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Searching for Art and Soul in Los Angeles, California


You might think there’s enough culture to catch (contagious or otherwise) just wandering Venice Beach or the touristy streets of Hollywood. But that would be a serious mistake. Greater Los Angeles, California, may have a varied reputation, but one thing must be said: there’s a fine selection of art museums to consider should you so desire, to say nothing of the area’s intriguing historic architecture. The biggest problem might be deciding how to divvy up your time, since the major collections dot the area that runs from downtown Los Angeles west to Malibu.

Starting in central Los Angeles, the biggie is, of course, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (MOCA). In addition to changing exhibits at the associated Greffen Contemporary at MOCA (in Little Tokyo), expect MOCA to showcase a broad selection of works by anyone who’s anyone in the art world since 1940.

Working west, the next logical stop is the Los Angeles County Museum of Art on Wilshire Boulevard (aka Museum Row). Here you can gaze upon ancient artifacts, Latin American art, Modernist works and Contemporary pieces, amongst many other things. Nearby find the Craft and Folk Art Museum which regularly hosts good changing exhibits.

Head due west down Wilshire Boulevard roughly 20 minutes and you’ll find the Armand Hammer Museum, of association with the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). Browse their collection for a glimpse of paintings by Impressionists and Old Masters but don’t linger so long you run short on time to thoroughly explore the J. Paul Getty Center, a short drive to the northwest. Noted for both its architecture and art collection, this fascinating facility takes in several centuries of Western Art which compete with the Getty Center’s hilltop perch for attention. And though it’s actually in Malibu, we’re including the Getty Villa because it makes a nice finish to a tour that began with the contemporary. Here, the focus is decidedly more dated with an emphasis on antiquities Greek, Roman and Etruscan in origin - and the villa’s architecture fits the theme.

Since in road miles you’re only looking at a distance of about 35 miles between destinations on our short list, you could, theoretically, see them all in one crazy day. Our recommendation? A more moderate approach - plan to spend three days exploring the creme de la creme of museums in Los Angeles, California, and you should emerge more cultured and mostly sane.

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Costa Mesa Costa Mesa Costa Mesa
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Catalina Island Catalina Island Catalina Island
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