Los Angeles has some of the finest art museums in the country. They are as varied as the city itself. No matter what your pleasure, Modern, Old Masters or Contemporary, the city has something to offer you.
Los Angeles County Art Museum
Founded in 1910 as part of the Museum of Science, History and Art, the Los Angeles County Art Museum has over 100,000 pieces of art in its collection ranging from ancient times to current works. The collection here is so deep, that many painting, sculptures and other works of art may not be on display at any given time. If there is a particular piece you are interested in seeing, the LACMA website will tell you which pieces are on display when you are visiting.
Their collection covers the entire globe from Southeast Asia and Islamic Art to American and European. Expect to find sculpture by Degas, Rodin and della Robbia and works of art by Rembrandt, Rubens, Titian, Veronese, Boucher, Cezanne, Holbein, Tintoretto, Sargent, Copley, Homer and Cassatt. They also have a fine collection of California artists represented.
On the second Tuesday of each month, general admission to the permanent galleries and non-ticketed exhibitions is free to all. Most days there is a spotlight tour lasting 15 minutes at 1:30 p.m. In Focus Tours which last 20-25 minutes are offered most days at 1:30 p.m. Permanent collection tours are given daily but you need to check the calendar on their website.
The building housing the Getty Collection is a work of art itself. Set high on a hill, it offers great views and a very open and spacious feeling. This is the collection of the late billionaire J.P. Getty and therefore reflects his taste in art. There are few antiquities here, the majority of them are housed at his villa. The bulk of the collection is Western Art. There are five pavilions that display this collection. Expect to see works by Chardin, Cezanne, Alma Tadema, Daumier, David, Degas, Durer, Van Gogh, Vigee LeBrun and much more. This is a fantastic not to be missed collection.
All of this is offered free to the public. There is an audio guide to help you find your way through the collection ($). Parking is not free and no longer needs to be reserved in advance.
This Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens is located in San Marino. Though technically not in LA proper, this is one of the writers favorite museums and is close enough to Los Angeles to make it worth adding to the list.
The Huntington Museum has 120 acres of splendid gardens and three art galleries. It is the home of the famous “The Blue Boy” by Thomas Gainsborough and his female counterpart “Pinkie” by Sir Thomas Lawrence. Among the more famous works of art here are Rogier van der Weyden’s “Madonna and Child.” The library houses such famous pieces as a Gutenberg Bible and a 15th century copy of the Canterbury Tales. Beyond that, it is just a beautiful place to visit and immerse yourself in the sights and smells of the gardens.
Plan to come here so that you can have tea in the Rose Garden Tea Room. A traditional English tea room menu is served.
Admission to The Huntington is free to all visitors on the first Thursday of every month with tickets acquired in advance.
Armand Hammer Museum
What is here today is only two thirds of what Armand Hammer managed to collect in his lifetime. In 1965 he gave the University of Southern California his collection of Dutch, German, Flemish and Italian works from the 15th-17th century. The two additional collections that he managed to amass from that time until his death are what forms this collection, minus what he donation to the National Gallery in Washington.
The collection consists primarily of painting and works on paper by 19th century French artists including Corot, Gauguin, Manet, Monet and Pissaro. Beyond the French there are four works by Vincent Van Gogh and a small but high quality collection of old masters including Rembrandt, Rubens, Titian, Goya and Tintoretto. His American works include, Mary Cassatt, George Bellows, John Singer Sargent and Gilbert Stuart. He was a collector of modern works as well and has pieces by Andrew Wyeth. The good news is that the museum continues to add to the collection.
Whether you live is Los Angeles or are just visiting, there will be no shortage of fine art museums for you to visit. These are just the tip of the iceberg. Choosing the best art museums in Los Angeles is very much a matter of personal taste and your list may be very different from mine.
Photo: Public domain “Thomas Gainsborough – The Blue Boy (The Huntington Library, San Marino L. A
I have been an Internet writer for more than 16 years. While I specialize in travel, I write on a variety of subjects. I love genealogy, food, and fashion. I have 10 grandchildren so family travel is something we often do.