In Arts + Entertainment

An Art Lover’s Guide to Los Angeles’ Best Galleries and Museums

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Home to cutting-edge contemporary art spaces, traditional museums, quirky cult galleries and pop-up exhibitions aplenty, Los Angeles is truly an art lover’s dream come true.

From Paris to London, New York to Sydney, there are a handful of cities where art has become part of the fabric of the city. The City of Angeles has firmed earned a place on that list – these are a few of the artistic gems worth discovering on your next visit.

Paul Getty Museum

The Getty Villa Photo: Getty Museum

Businessman and art collector J. Paul Getty believed art to be a civilising influence in society and he dedicated his adult life to making art available for the public’s enjoyment and education. His legacy continues in the J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center.

A unique museum combining a phenomenal collection with beautiful gardens and stunning views over the city of Los Angeles, the J. Paul Getty Museum is as beautiful as the pieces within. Perched on a hilltop in the Santa Monica Mountains, it’s covered in 16,000 tonnes of travertine stone sourced from Bagni di Tivoli, located around 25kms east of Rome, Italy.

The vast collection spans from medieval times to the present day, and features everything from illuminated manuscripts to Roman antiquities, drawings by Leonardo da Vinci, Vincent van Gogh’s Irises, and so much more.


A BoJack Horseman themed Photo: Gallery 1988: LA

What do Derek Zoolander, the NeverEnding Story’s Childlike Empress, and WWE superstar Randy Savage have in common? All three have served as the inspiration for art exhibits at Gallery1988 – the world’s first art gallery devoted entirely to celebrating pop culture.

Located on iconic Melrose Avenue, the gallery was opened in 2004 with a goal of elevating pop culture to high art and has since developed a cult-like following among art lovers and celebrities. Its annual Crazy 4 Cult art exhibition is one of the hottest events of the year.

The gallery often features vintage-style posters and artworks inspired by your favourite films, comics and memes, and has held exhibitions dedicated to the likes of Star Wars and The Avengers, and the ultra-camp swagger and spandex of WWE wrestling. A must-see.

The Broad

The Broad Infinity Mirror Room Photo: Yayoi Kusama/Supplied

As stunning inside as it is out, contemporary art gallery The Broad is the public home for Eli and Edythe Broad’s collection of more than 2,000 post-war and modern artworks. Opened in 2015, it has become a landmark among the many landmarks in Downtown L.A.

Designed by architects Diller Scofidio + Renfro, in collaboration with Gensler, the sprawling 120,000-square-foot building features two floors of gallery space and hosts an active program of rotating exhibitions. Two of the most famous exhibits within are the Infinity Mirrored Rooms by artist Yayoi Kusama – guaranteed to dominate your Instagram feed.

Though home to more museums and art institutions than any city in the United States, Los Angeles is not resting on its laurels – there are several new museums in the works.

2019 will see the opening of the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures on Museum Row Cnr of Wilshire & Fairfax , while the hotly anticipated Lucas Museum of Narrative Art, a non-for-profit museum from visionary director and philanthropist George Lucas, is expected to open in 2021.

Annenberg Space for Photography

King of New York 1997 laughing contact sheet | King of New York 1997 Photos by: Barron Claiborne

King of New York 1997 laughing contact sheet | King of New York 1997 Photos: Barron Claiborne/Annenberg Space for Photography

American landscape photographer and environmentalist Ansel Adams once said, “A photograph is usually looked at, seldom looked into”. At the Annenberg Space for Photography in Century City, looking into photos is the name of the game.

Opened in 2009, the Annenberg Space for Photography is devoted to bringing print and digital photography photos to life. Home to a mix of traditional prints and digital photos presented with state-of-the-art 4K technology, it’s dynamic, interactive, and allows you to see photography in a new light. Exhibits change every three to six months, so chances are each visit will reveal a completely different experience.

The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA

The Geffen Contemporary Photo: MOCA

Modern art is a bit like coriander – there are those who love it and those who love telling you every reason why they don’t. If you consider yourself in the former camp, The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA in the heart of downtown L.A. is where you need to be.

A former police warehouse turned contemporary art exhibition space, The Geffen was re-designed by noted Californian architect Frank Gehry in the 1980s and now ranks among the most perplexing, inspiring and thought-provoking modern art venues in the city.

With 40,000 square feet of exhibition space to play with, it hosts an ever-changing calendar of exhibitions from local and international contemporary artists such as Adrián Villar Rojas, Zoe Leonard, and Laura Owens. Photography, sculpture, painting, movement and purpose-built art installations; a visit to The Geffen at MOCA always reveals something new.

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Published 14 December, 2018