A museum for every mood in LA

Pallavi Mehra | Updated on June 28, 2019 Published on June 28, 2019

Shine on: Chris Burden’s Urban Light, a display at the central plaza of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art   -  IMAGE COURTESY: LOS ANGELES TOURISM

What lies beyond Beverly Hills and Hollywood

There is much more to Los Angeles (LA) than Hollywood, Beverly Hills and the Santa Monica beach. The sunny southern California city is also the home of some of the biggest names in the world of museums. From contemporary exhibits at The Broad to classic art through the ages at the Getty Center, there’s a museum for every mood. There’s even a museum devoted to exploring the cosmos (The Griffith Observatory) and one dedicated to cars (Petersen Automotive Museum). Here we list the must-see museums in LA.

The Broad

Located in downtown Los Angeles, the Broad, founded in 2015, is a $140-million, 1,20,000-sq-ft honeycomb-like building with 2,000 pieces of contemporary artwork. The museum building showcases an innovative ‘veil-and-vault’ concept. The ‘veil’ is the airy, one-of-a-kind honeycomb-like structure that envelops the museum and provides natural sunlight to the exhibition spaces. The ‘vault’ stores portions of the collection not on display. Instead of the storage being a secondary space, the vault is always in sight and has windows, so you can view the extensive stored collection at all times.

Must see: Works by Jeff Koons, Andy Warhol and Robert Therrien. A special mention for Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirrored Room — The Souls of Millions of Light Years Away.

Free admission; thebroad.org

The Getty Center

Designed by award-winning architect Richard Meier, the Getty Center opened in 1997. Located on a hilltop in the Santa Monica Mountains, it has spectacular views of Los Angeles and the Pacific Ocean. You can take a tram to the top of the hill, where you are greeted by a campus with multiple buildings covered with Italian travertine and gardens built around a central plaza. The Getty Center is well known for its extensive permanent collection of American, European and Asian photographs, paintings, sculptures and decorative arts.

Must see:Irises by Vincent van Gogh, a self-portrait by Rembrandt, Cardinale Seduto, a bronze sculpture by Giacomo Manzù. Don’t miss the Central Garden and the Cactus Garden.

Free admission; getty.edu

Los Angeles County Museum of Art

The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) is more than 50 years old. This sprawling campus is home to over 120,000 global masterpieces. Chris Burden’s cast-iron street lamps — known as Urban Light — stand in the central plaza, from which labyrinthine walkways lead to the numerous buildings of the museum. Later this year, the museum will be undergoing a $600-million redesign by architect Peter Zumthor. The plan is to build a new S-shaped building that will curve around the existing structures.

Must see: Works by Chris Burden, Christian Marclay and David Hockney.

Entry: $25 a ticket for adults; lacma.org

Petersen Automotive Museum

Wheels of time: Charting the history of motorcars at the Petersen Automotive Museum   -  DAVID ZAITZ


This museum tells the history of automobiles and their influence on global culture. In 2015, Petersen Automotive Museum underwent a massive $90-million redesign by architectural firm Kohn Pedersen Fox(KPF). The renovated building signifies a car in a wind tunnel. The main design inspiration for the new exterior is the movement of air over the body of a moving car. KPF architects executed this by constructing 308 individual silver ‘ribbons’ made of stainless steel. The steel ribbons against a bold red backdrop make for an astounding façade.

Must see: Hollywood Dream Machines: Vehicles of Science Fiction and Fantasy, an exhibition showcasing futuristic cars from cult classic films.

Entry: $16 a ticket for adults; petersen.org

The Griffith Observatory

The Griffith Observatory is one of the most recognisable buildings in Los Angeles — thanks to its appearances in films such as The Terminator and La La Land. This majestic structure, located on the slope of Mount Hollywood in Griffith Park, offers panoramic views of downtown LA, the Hollywood sign and the Pacific Ocean. The three-domed, Art Deco construction goes back to 1935. It was renovated and expanded in 2006. The Griffith Observatory offers a wide selection of space- and science-related exhibits and displays. It also has telescopes and a planetarium.

Must see: The Roman Sundial, the Foucault Pendulum, the Gunther Depths of Space: The Planets exhibition; make time for a show at the Samuel Oschin Planetarium.

Free admission; griffithobservatory.org

Pallavi Mehra is a freelance writer based in Mumbai

Published on June 28, 2019
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