Classic and Modern Art, Science, and Culture Fill the Hallowed Halls of LA's Hottest Museums

A veritable cornucopia of museums for every taste, art lover, and cultural background awaits you in the City of Angels. Ready for an art lover's afternoon delight? Check out highly popular museums like the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), and the private collections at the must see Getty Center. Eager to explore another culture's history? Stroll through unique ever-changing exhibitions at the Museum of Tolerance, California African American Museum, and Japanese American National Museum. Science and technology more your forte? The Natural History Museum of LA boasts a brand-spankin' new Dinosaur Hall twice the size of the museum's former gallery. The Petersen Automotive Museum and the Page Museum La Brea Tarpits also provide opportunities for the entire family to get "hands-on" offering specialized programs and tours for adults and kids. The Norton Simon Museum is a work of art on its own, its classic and modern art collections housed in a unique building designed by renowned architect Frank Gehry. Each museum offers its own creative lectures and monthly or weekly programs to enhance the enjoyment and educational experience for all guests. Audio and live tour guides are provided to take a closer look at pieces and special exhibitions. Check museum websites for up-to-date info on current and future special events. Most, if not all, museums offer one free day a month to the general public and also on select complimentary Target days. Museums charging free admission all the time include The Getty Center and California African American Museum.

10 Norton Simon Museum
With its curved exterior and dramatic, Frank Gehry-designed interior, this museum's magnificent building is a work of art in itself. An impressive permanent collection spans the 14th century to the present and features everything from early Baroque paintings to Impressionist works and modern art. The garden surrounding the museum was inspired by Monet's "Giverny" and features a large pond and gorgeous sculptures. Current exciting exhibits include Proof: The Rise of Printmaking in Southern California and The Original Print: An Introduction to Printmaking in the Postwar Period. Check the online calendar for special events like adult art classes, lectures and musical and dance performances. (626-449-6840)

9 Page Museum — La Brea Tar Pits
Rancho La Brea, located in the heart of LA, is home to one of the world's most famous fossil sites. Learn about the sabre-toothed tigers and woolly mammoths that roamed the Los Angeles basin 10,000-40,000 years ago, during the last Ice Age. Be mesmerized by the gurgling tar, which spits up out of the pits while strolling down Wilshire Boulevard. Guests also get a first-hand glimpse of fossil preparation in the paleontological laboratory. When you've completed the interior attractions, stroll through the surrounding park. Admission to the Page Museum is free on the first Tuesday of every month, except July and August. (323-934-7243)

8 Japanese American National Museum
This museum occupies a remodeled Buddhist temple and features over 60,000 unique photographs, personal objects, art, and artifacts reflecting the history of Japanese immigration and assimilation into American culture. Among the facility's attractions are those that allow visitors to experiment with origami, examine Japanese family photo albums, learn about World War II internment camps, and view the short film "Moving Memories." Current popular exhibitions include Desire for Magic: Patrick Nagatani and Common Ground: The Heart of Community. An exciting upcoming exhibit highlights Folding Paper: The Infinite Possibilities of Origami. Take advantage of free admission every third Thursday of the month. (213-625-0414, 800-461-5266)

7 Los Angeles County Museum of Art
By far one of the most popular museums in the city, the LA County Museum of Art is the largest art museum in the Western United States. The multi-building complex houses a permanent collection that spans the globe and features everything from European to Islamic art. Don't miss the impressive Latin American collection, which showcases pre-Columbian masterpieces as well as works by modern and contemporary artists like Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo and Jose Clemente Orozco. Current popular exhibits include California Design 1930-1965: Living in a Modern Way and Mural Remix: Sandra de la Loza. Enjoy free admission the second Tuesday of every month. (323-857-6000, 323-857-0098)

6 Museum of Contemporary Art
MOCA's primary location is this Arata Isozaki-designed building, but two satellite locations exist at the Geffen Contemporary in Little Tokyo and at the Pacific Design Center. Art offerings range from paintings and works on paper to sculptures and installations. The museum features works by well-known artists like Jackson Pollock, Claes Oldenburg, Mark Rothko, Diane Arbus, Frank Stella, and Piet Mondrian. Emerging artists are also represented. Current popular not-to-be-missed exhibitions include A Tribute to Beatrice and Philip Gersh and Naked Hollywood. Learn more about contemporary art through special activities aimed for kids, adults, and teens. Enjoy free admission every Thursday from 5-8pm. (213-626-6222)

5 Museum of Tolerance
This museum offers interactive, high-tech exhibits that explore and identify racism and prejudice. It utilizes film, technology, photographs, and artifacts to relate its story and that of a variety of American families. Don't miss the brand new "Freedom's Sisters" exhibit, a collaboration between SITES and Cincinnati Museum Center. It highlights African American women equal rights crusaders, from 19th-century historical figures to leaders of today. Another must see exhibit is Para Todos Los Ninos: For the Children, emphasizing equality in contemporary California. Call in advance for reservations. Tickets are for a specific time of admission; allow three to four hours to see all the exhibits. (310-553-8403)

4 Petersen Automotive Museum
Located on Wilshire at Fairfax, this museum offers fun, interactive exhibits that present the history of the automobile, along with full-scale reproductions of scenes and buildings that mark important milestones in the development of the motor car in Los Angeles. Five galleries house changing exhibitions of various types of vehicles while other galleries display automotive memorabilia. Don't miss the May Family Discovery Center on the third floor, which teaches children basic scientific principles using car fundamentals in the interactive "hands-on" learning center. Families with kids under 6 can attend Discovery Hour, a weekly interactive activity with storytelling, scavenger hunts, and races. (323-930-2277)

3 Natural History Museum of Los Angeles
Dinosaur lovers rejoice! Check out the newly opened 14,000 square foot Dinosaur Hall which is TWICE the size of the museum's former dinosaur galleries. Score! Not-to-missed are the T. Rex growth series, Triceratops and Stegosaurus. Well-known for detailed exhibits of North American and African mammals, the museum also has a fascinating marine life exhibit that includes Megamouth, the rarest shark in the world (only 17 have been found since 1976). Don't miss the Hall of Birds, the insect zoo, or the Discovery Center, which offers lots of hands-on activities for kids. Grownups will enjoy First Fridays, come to have a drink and roam the Dinosaur Hall. (213-763-3466)

2 Getty Center
The Getty Center is the legacy of billionaire J. Paul Getty, a gorgeous paean to the arts. Perched high in the Santa Monica Mountains, the Richard Meier-designed complex is stunningly beautiful both outside and in. The museum's vast collection includes works by Van Gogh, Monet, Manet, Renoir, Cezanne and many other artistic masters, as well as ancient antiquities, modern sculptures, illuminated manuscripts and more. The gardens are particularly inviting and the Restaurant at the Getty offers up locally sourced fare with an amazing view. The permanent collections are always on view as well as constantly changing special exhibitions. Admission is always free, but note that parking is $15. (310-440-7300, 310-440-6810)

1 California African American Museum
Thanks to a wonderful collection of art and artifacts, this museum traces the history, experience, and culture of African Americans, focusing on California and the western US. Stroll through the permanent and continuously changing exhibits, including a current rich display celebrating the achievements of African American women, many lesser known. The museum also offers educational programs and workshops featuring music, film, and the fine arts. Call ahead to make a reservation for the docent-led tours offered throughout the day. Check out the once-a-month Target Sundays where you can create your own art piece depending on the month's theme, led by local artist Teresa Tolliver. (213-744-7432)

Living in the land of perpetual sun, beautiful beaches, and gorgeous people has fueled Sujata Day’s creativity in myriad ways. Her short story “Forbidden Fate” won the WRITE STUFF competition sponsored by MTV and People magazine, birthing a prosperous writing career. The tale was published in a collection of short stories titled Pieces, edited by Stephen Chbosky. Reviews hail Pieces as “an exciting glimpse into the future of fiction” and “endearingly raw, undeniably bold, and engagingly inventive.” Since moving to LA from the suburbs of Pittsburgh, PA, Sujata has appeared in many TV shows, films, and internet productions. TV credits include Desperate Housewives, Secret Life of the American Teenager, Campus Ladies, Greek, and The Loop. She plays a supporting role in 2009’s Down For Life, alongside Danny Glover and Snoop Dogg. Sujata produced, wrote, and starred in the web pilot Raveena and the Vampire chosen to launch as a 2010 premiere vehicle on the popular internet channel, Somebody’s Basement. Currently, she stars as ‘CeCe’ in the hit web series, Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl. Sujata can be seen next starring in the film, Big Breakin', to be released in early 2012.

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Maps and Directions

Norton Simon Museum 10Best List Arrow
Type: Architecture, Art Museums, Museums
Page Museum — La Brea Tar Pits 10Best List Arrow
Type: Museums, Science Museums
Neighborhood: Melrose
Japanese American National Museum 10Best List Arrow
Type: Art Museums, History Museums, Museums
Neighborhood: Little Tokyo
Los Angeles County Museum of Art 10Best List Arrow
Type: Art Museums, Museums
Neighborhood: Melrose
Museum of Contemporary Art 10Best List Arrow
Type: Art Museums, Museums
Neighborhood: Downtown
Museum of Tolerance 10Best List Arrow
Type: History Museums, Museums
Neighborhood: Beverly Hills
Petersen Automotive Museum 10Best List Arrow
Type: History Museums, Museums
Neighborhood: Melrose
Natural History Museum of Los Angeles 10Best List Arrow
Type: Museums, Science Museums
Neighborhood: Exposition Park
Getty Center 10Best List Arrow
Type: Art Museums, Museums
Neighborhood: Brentwood
California African American Museum 10Best List Arrow
Type: Art Museums, History Museums, Museums
Neighborhood: Exposition Park