The Best Museums in Los Angeles

The Best Museums in Los Angeles

L.A. is a huge, cultural city filled with museums of all types. Each neighborhood has something different to offer, whether it's a sports museum, a natural history museum, or a museum with a wacky theme. From museums dedicated to car culture to art museums to science museums, Los Angeles offers something for every type of traveler. Here are the best museums in Los Angeles for your next visit..
Barnsdall Art Park & Hollyhock House Photograph
This historic park serves as a public art gallery, architectural exhibit, and entertainment venue. It was donated by Aline Barnsdall and today it remains a unique cultural park that hosts cinema nights, wine tastings, and a number of other events that bring together young adults, couples, and families in one unique setting.
4800 Hollywood Blvd, Los Feliz, Los Angeles, CA, 90027
The Nethercutt Collection
This collection of classic cars includes European and American automobiles from the 1890s to the 1990s. This is a diverse and impressive collection that is in pristine condition. Also at the museum is a collection of antiques including furniture and mechanical musical instruments.
15151 Bledsoe St, Sylmar, CA, 91342
If you're looking for more information about Los Angeles, read The Best Local Museums in Los Angeles and The Best Neighborhoods for Ethnic Food in Los Angeles.
Spring Arts Tower
Located in Downtown L.A., this building is home to a number of art galleries where visitors can peruse works from various artists. They also host the Spring Arts Collective event to showcase new and emerging artists. A terrific bookstore is on the ground floor, too.
453 S Spring St, Downtown, Los Angeles, California, 90013
Battleship Iowa Museum
This impressive battleship educates visitors on what daily life was like at sea for sailors. There is a self guided tour and a scavenger hunt for the kids. There is also a behind the scenes tour available for those who want to see the ship on a different level.
250 S Harbor Blvd, San Pedro, Los Angeles, CA, 90731
Getty Center
Getty Center
This art museum, which has beautiful architecture and gorgeous gardens, is the home of a huge collection of art. The works are part of the J. Paul Getty Trust's collection which were formerly housed at the Getty House, but moved to this new location after its completion in 1997. The galleries are extensive, and visitors can peruse the impressionist paintings, works by French artists, an outdoor sculpture garden, and plenty more. Any art lover will feel right at home here. Admission is free, but parking is not.
1200 Getty Center Dr, Los Angeles, California, 90049
Discovery Cube Los Angeles
The Discovery Cube LA is a kids museum focused on STEM activities, environmental sciences, and healthy lifestyles. There are a number of kids activities that include a grocery store with a scavenger hunt and a simulated helicopter ride through California.
11800 Foothill Blvd, Sylmar, CA, 91342
Academy Museum of Motion Pictures
If you love the movies, this museum is just for you. Featuring exhibits that house a variety of props, costumes, clothing, and items from famous movies, visitors will get to peruse R2D2, the ruby slippers from the Wizard of Oz, the only remaining shark from Jaws, and many more. Other exhibits focus on historical filmmakers, contributions from African American filmmakers, and technical and production exhibits that focus on how movies were made throughout history.
6067 Wilshire Blvd, Miracle Mile, Los Angeles, California, 90036
Museum of Latin American Art (MOLAA)
Highlighting works from Latin American artists, this well designed art museum features a large indoor space as well as an outdoor sculpture garden. The museum actually features a work from every single Latin American country in a variety of mediums and forms. Also check out the cafe while you're there, as well as the numerous events and temporary exhibits.
628 Alamitos Avenue, Long Beach, California, 90802
If you're looking for more information about Los Angeles, read The Best Theaters for a Show in Los Angeles and Historic Buildings in Los Angeles.
Hauser & Wirth
Located near downtown, this large art gallery is an extension of the New York gallery under the same name. Set up in a former flour mill, the space here is intriguing as it feels both industrial and natural. In addition to the art, visitors can experience events and temporary exhibitions.
901 E 3rd St, Downtown, Los Angeles, California, 90013
Skirball Cultural Center
This Jewish cultural center is also a combination of an art museum, culture museum, children's museum, and public events and educational space. Fostering a sense of welcoming and inclusion within the community, the center showcases a number of events and exhibitions throughout the year. Some of the exhibitions focus on history and religion, while others center on pop culture, children's education, food and cuisine, and more. Normally an admission is charged, but it's free on Thursdays.
2701 N. Sepulveda Blvd, Sherman Oaks, Los Angeles, California, 90049
Getty Villa
Getty Villa
This art museum, styled like an ancient Roman villa, was the former art museum of wealthy oil tycoon J Paul Getty's collection of art before it was moved to the Getty Center. Now, the villa is still a museum showcasing some of the works of art as well as numerous murals, plus beautiful gardens and a terrific view out to sea. The views and gardens make this worth the trip, and the world-class art is an added bonus. It's just north of Santa Barbara on the way up to Malibu. Admission is free, but you'll have to pay to park.
17985 Pacific Coast Hwy, Los Angeles, California
Museum of the American West
This museum, as the name implies, focuses on the history of the western United States. Their overall goal is to provide an inclusive view of this history, so many of the exhibits focus on Native Americans as well as minorities and their contributions to American history and culture. A large portion of the museum also focuses on the culture of cowboys and the idea of "the wild west" as a frontier which was tamed by explorers. Children and adults enjoy this museum, and it's located in Griffith Park. It's free on the 2nd Tuesday of every month.
Western Heritage Way, Griffith Park, LA, California, 91201
Hollywood Wax Museum
With a large number of was replicas of famous movie stars and characters, kids and adults alike will enjoy visiting this fun museum and experience where they can see all of their favorite movies and TV shows come to life before their eyes. Located in Hollywood along the walk of fame, it's fun for the whole family.
6767 Hollywood Blvd, Hollywood, LA, California, 90028
Hammer Museum
With an emphasis on local artists, the Hammer Museum is partnered with UCLA to showcase modern art, design, photography, and works from Armand Hammer's collection before he died. Admission is free. Lectures, film screenings, and concerts are also on their calendar of events, which are quite popular.
10899 Wilshire Boulevard, Westwood Village, LA, California, 90024
Planning a trip to Los Angeles? You might also be interested in An Art Lover's Guide to Los Angeles and Educational Places and Activities in Los Angeles.
La Brea Tar Pits
Centered around pits that were bubbling up from an underground lake of oil, scientists discovered a number of fossils and animal remains here. Now it's a museum focusing on the fossils, bones, and the general topic of paleontology. Kids love it, adults enjoy it, and it's a terrific learning experience for everyone. The indoor section of the museum requires a ticket for admission, but the outdoor section of this museum is free, and is quite interesting to see.
Wilshire Boulevard, LA, California, 90036
Japanese American National Museum
With a goal to preserve and showcase the culture and history of Japanese Americans, this museum is located near downtown L.A. in Little Tokyo. Many of the exhibits are dedicated to Japanese immigration, the internment during WW2, and various artwork from historical and current artists in the community. An admission is normally charged, but it's free on Thursdays.
369 East 1st Street, Little Tokyo, LA, California, 90013
Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA)
Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA)
This free museum features contemporary art from 1940 to the present by artists such as Jackson Pollock as well as plenty of lesser known names. In addition to the main location, the museum actually has two other locations in L.A., so don't miss those, either.
250 South Grand Avenue, Bunker Hill, LA, California, 90012
Los Angeles County Museum of Art
Los Angeles County Museum of Art
This large art museum has a variety of exhibits inside and outside. Inside visitors will find a variety of modern and historical art by famous names such as Andy Warhol, Picasso, Cezanne, and more. The exterior artwork of the museum has become somewhat famous recently due to a very photographic sculpture, Chris Burden’s Urban Light, which brought old streetlights from around town back to life. This area of the museum is free, but admission is required for entry to the inside galleries.
5912 Wilshire Boulevard, Miracle Mile, LA, California, 90036
California African American Museum (CAAM)
The California African American Museum (CAAM), found in Exposition Park, has a focus on the history, heritage, and cultural of African Americans. Specifically, it covers topics related to African Americans in California and the western region of the United States. Visitors will find a variety of art exhibits as well as events for adults and children. Public educational programs, rotating exhibits, and concerts and film screenings are all part of this museum's programming.
600 State Drive, Adams Normandie Historic District, LA, California, 90037
Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County
Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County
Boasting a huge collection that is second only to the Smithsonian, the Natural History Museum of LA Country will take you quite some time to explore every level. From dinosaurs to gems to animal skeletons to an outdoor natural area, kids and adults will love spending the day here learning about a variety of topics. Even the building itself is a bit of a masterpiece.
Adams Normandie Historic District, LA, California
Los Angeles has plenty more to offer, so see also our other articles: How to Spend One Day in Los Angeles and The Best Art Museums in Los Angeles.
California Science Center
This is one of the largest science museums on the west coast, and it has an impressively large list of exhibits, many of which feature fun, hands-on experiences which are great for kids and adults alike. Visitors can also see an aquarium, various ecosystems featuring a variety of animals, plenty of air and space vehicles (some are outside), and even more rotating exhibits about biology, chemistry, physics, and more. On site is also an IMAX theater.
700 Exposition Park Drive, Adams Normandie Historic District, LA, California, 90037
Griffith Observatory
Griffith Observatory
The Griffith Observatory lies on the south-facing slope of Mount Hollywood in Griffith Park. With a gorgeous view of Downtown Los Angeles, Hollywood, and the Pacific Ocean to the southwest, this spot is a popular tourist attraction for a variety of reasons. From here you also have a great view of the Hollywood Sign, too. Inside, visitors can find a variety of space and science exhibits, as the building is a stellar observatory after all. Admission is free. A planetarium is on site with fun shows that educate the public about astronomy, too. (Planetarium tickets are not free.)
2800 East Observatory Road, LA, California, 90027
The Hollywood Museum
Located in the historic Max Factor building, this amazing museum is one of the most visited in L.A. Visitors can see a variety of memorabilia, props, costumes, and other paraphernalia from their favorite movies and TV shows. The collection has more than 10,000 items such as Marilyn Monroe's famous dress to costumes from Star Trek, I love Lucy, Glee, and more. Part of the museum also includes makeup rooms where movies stars were prepped for their shows and films.
1660 Highland Avenue, Hollywood, LA, California, 90028
Petersen Automotive Museum
Petersen Automotive Museum
Focusing on all things automotive, this car-themed museum has a lot to offer. When visiting, you can see supercars, vintage historical vehicles, and famous cars from the movies. Other exhibits focus on the history of the automobile and how it shaped communities and culture.
6060 Wilshire Boulevard, Carthay Circle, LA, California, 90036
The Broad Museum
The Broad Museum
This free museum is full of contemporary art. It's most famous for the immersive mirror rooms in which you will see yourself multiplied in Yayoi Kusama's modern art installations. If the line is long, don't worry, plenty of other modern exhibits are on display, including some from Andy Warhol and other famous artists. Also, relax in the beautiful courtyard or dine at Otium, the on-site restaurant.
221 South Grand Avenue, Bunker Hill, LA, California, 90012
Museum of Neon Art
MONA, the Museum of Neon Art, showcases a variety of artwork and signs made of neon lights and other electric lights. It describes artwork made with neon lights as part science and part artwork. Some of the exhibits are modern sculptures created in neon, while others focus on historical neon signage.
Glendale, California, 91210
If you're looking for more information about Los Angeles, read The Best Children's Museums in Los Angeles and The Best History Museums in Los Angeles.
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