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The 6 Best Art Museums in Los Angeles

Gloria Walker has a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in history and has been blogging about travel for four years.

The Getty Center in Los Angeles, California

The Getty Center in Los Angeles, California

The LA Art Scene

Although the city is best known for its movie stars and beaches, Los Angeles has a lot to offer art enthusiasts. There are several major art museums in and around Los Angeles whose exhibits cover a range of eras in art history. Some of them are surrounded by their own peaceful gardens.

Amongst the major area art museums in LA County are the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Getty Center. There are also the Museum of Contemporary Art and the Huntington Gallery. Neighboring Orange County also has its offerings. Two of these are the Orange County Museum of Art and the Laguna Art Museum.

The Los Angeles County Museum of Art

The Los Angeles County Museum of Art

1. LACMA

The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) is not only one of the largest art museums in Los Angeles, it's one of the largest in the United States. LACMA is housed in a mid-century modern building along the Miracle Mile segment of Wilshire Boulevard.

The museum's collection contains works from around the world. The assortment of European artists represented here would be worth a visit. These include Rembrandt, Claude Monet, Paul Cezanne, and Pierre-August Renoir. In addition to the European artists of the Modern Era, there's also a collection of art from ancient Greece and Rome.

In addition to the European artworks, there are a good number of non-Western exhibits. Asian art is well-represented in the form of numerous paintings and sculptures of Hindu gods. There are also artworks from Buddhism and Islam. LACMA has an entire pavilion dedicated to Japanese art dating from prehistory to the 20th century.

Another benefit that a visit to LACMA offers is that its neighbors include other museums that you might want to see. The museum is located next door to the La Brea Tar Pits and Museum. It's also across the street from the Petersen Automotive Museum. The recently-opened Academy Museum of Motion Pictures is another close neighbor.

Location

LACMA is located at 5905 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90036.

The Huntington Art Gallery

The Huntington Art Gallery

The Huntington Library, Art Gallery, and Gardens, also known as The Huntington, is housed on a large estate near Pasadena. It features an art gallery that focuses on European and American art from the 15th century to the 20th century. These include paintings, sculpture, and drawings as well as furniture and other decorative arts. Some of the artists whose works are on display there are Gilbert Stuart and John Singleton Copley.

The Huntington Library is also of interest, as it contains rare historical books and manuscripts. These include an original copy of the Gutenberg Bible, Newton's own copy of his Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica, and one of the copies of the Magna Carta.

The Rose Garden at The Huntington

The Rose Garden at The Huntington

A good botanical garden is like a work of art, and Huntington Gardens consists of 120 acres of gardens which represent cultures and climates from around the world. These include a Japanese garden as well as the largest Chinese gardens in the US. There's also the Jungle Garden displaying tropical plants like bamboo and orchids.

The Shakespeare Garden contains plants that were grown in Renaissance England, some of which were mentioned in Shakespeare's writings. There are daisies, daffodils, a pomegranate tree, and a willow. If you like roses, which Shakespeare often mentioned, the Rose Garden is adjacent and holds 3 acres of assorted rose varieties.

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Location

The Huntington is located at 1151 Oxford Road, San Marino, CA 91108.

The Museum of Contemporary Art

The Museum of Contemporary Art

3. MOCA

Fans of more recent art will probably enjoy the Museum of Contemporary Art in downtown Los Angeles. Also known as MOCA, this museum features American and European artworks that have been created since 1940.

An example of contemporary artworks there is the 2020 sculpture Briccs 2 by Lauren Halsey. This is a brilliant arch consisting of two pillars that look like bricks covered in chrome. They're topped off with a bright rainbow-colored ceiling.

Other artists whose works are displayed at MOCA include Dan Flavin, David Smith, Paul McCarthy, and Mark Grotjahn.

Location

MOCA is located at 250 South Grand Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90012.

Irises by Vincent van Gogh, one of the paintings on display at The Getty Center in Los Angeles.

Irises by Vincent van Gogh, one of the paintings on display at The Getty Center in Los Angeles.

4. The Getty Center

The Getty Center is another one of Los Angeles' major art museums, and it sits atop a high hill that offers spectacular views of the city. The focus of The Getty Center is European paintings, sculpture, and other artworks from up to the 20th century. They also feature photographs from the beginning of photography until the present.

Some of the most famous artworks on display at The Getty Center are Wheatstacks by Claude Monet and Irises by Vincent van Gogh. There are also works by Paul Cezanne, Edouard Manet, Rembrandt, and Peter Paul Rubens.

Like The Huntington, The Getty Center is one of the LA art museums that is surrounded by gardens. The gardens at The Getty Center feature a maze of streams, fountains, and waterfalls amongst the plants and green areas.

Location

The Getty Center is located at 1200 Getty Center Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90049.

5. Orange County Museum of Art

The Orange County Museum of Art, or OCMA, is in Santa Ana and focuses on art from the 20th century. These works include painting, photography, video, and sculpture.

An example of the exhibits here is Conversations with a Dog from the Portfolio Italy. This is a 1987 black-and-white photograph by Al Belson featuring a dog who is surrounded by three boys. As the title suggests, they appear to be in deep conversation.

Another exhibit at OCMA is Ask the Dust by Cindy Bernard. This is a series of black-and-white photos featuring scenic landscapes of the American West.

Location

OCMA is located at 1661 West Sunflower Avenue, Santa Ana, CA 92704.

The Laguna Art Museum in Laguna Beach, California

The Laguna Art Museum in Laguna Beach, California

6. Laguna Art Museum

The Laguna Art Museum (LAM) is located along the Pacific Coast Highway in Laguna Beach. Therefore, it would be easy to combine a visit to LAM with a scenic drive along the highway, which offers spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean.

The museum's collection consists entirely of art from California. These are nearly 4,000 works that date from the 19th and 20th centuries and come in numerous styles. There are scenic paintings and photos of California's landscapes as well as abstract art.

Location

LAM is located at 307 Cliff Drive, Laguna Beach, CA 92651.

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