It may be home to glitz, glamour, Hollywood movies and sun-kissed beach communities, but Los Angeles also boasts some of the world’s best museums and art galleries. In fact, there’s plenty of opportunity to enlighten yourself with the Top 10 Cultural Pursuits in Los Angeles.
1. Getty Center
One of the most visited museums in the United States, the Getty Center in Brentwood welcomes over a million visitors each year. They’re attracted to one of the world’s most extensive collections of Western art stretching from medieval times to the modern era, while the stunning Richard Meier-designed grounds offer a welcome retreat high in the hills and away from the hustle and bustle of the city.
2. The Huntington Library
Though the library itself houses some seriously important artefacts – including a Gutenberg Bible – it’s actually the surrounding Botanical Gardens which lures most visitors to this popular San Marino landmark. Set amid 120 acres of meticulously manicured gardens, The Huntington Library also houses an extensive collection of European and American art.
3. Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles
One of the city’s more recent additions, the Museum of Contemporary Art is a world-renowned contemporary art museum spread across three distinct locations. Its main facility is its critically acclaimed Arota Isozaki-designed Grand Avenue site, which houses the bulk of its stunning collection of American and European contemporary art.
4. Los Angeles County Museum of Art
Located on a section of Wilshire Boulevard known as ‘Museum Row,’ the Los Angeles County Museum of Art is the largest art museum in the western United States and attracts more than a million visitors each year. Its numerous exhibitions include several dedicated to popular culture, while its extensive modern art collections mixes traditional pieces with works of sculpture, film and photography.
5. Los Angeles Philharmonic
One of the most highly regarded orchestras in the United States, the Los Angeles Philharmonic was founded in 1919. Its winter season takes place in the Walt Disney Concert Hall and a summer season is held outdoors in the Hollywood Bowl, making this innovative orchestra both influential and widely popular.
6. Walt Disney Concert Hall
Not only one of the homes of the world renowned Los Angeles Philharmonic, but also one of the city’s most recognisable buildings, the Frank Gehry-designed Walt Disney Concert Hall is as striking as it is acoustically flawless. This 2,265-capacity concert hall is one of Downtown’s most striking structures, attracting admiring visitors with its breathtakingly angular design.
7. Page Museum at La Brea Tar Pits
A stunning natural relic formed centuries ago, La Brea Tar Pits are a group of well-preserved tar pits formed in the middle of urban Hancock Park. The impressive George C. Page Museum was built on the edge of the pits to inform and educate the many visitors who come to learn about the lives of those who once dwelled in their midst, thousands of years ago.
8. Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County
Fittingly located in Exposition Park – once an agricultural fairground – the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County boasts a collection of more than 35 million specimens and artefacts. That makes it one of the largest museums in the western United States, and this comprehensive collection of natural history also makes it one of the city’s most diverting tourist attractions.
9. Griffith Observatory
Commanding unparalleled views over the Los Angeles Basin, Griffith Observatory is as famous for its picturesque location as it is for its impressive astronomical facilities. The views make it one of the city’s most popular tourist attractions, however the stunning 'Centered in the Universe' planetarium show make Griffith Observatory well worth a visit in its own right.
10. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
Ever heard of a little ceremony called The Academy Awards? It’s administered by The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and their Beverly Hills headquarters houses several movie-related galleries which are open to the public. The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures is also currently under construction and is expected to be completed by 2017.
Words by Mike Tuckerman