The Golden State’s largest metro area is known for many things, including its vibrant arts scene. But what if you aren’t an art lover? LA still has plenty to offer!
Here are the 11 best museums in Los Angeles for those who aren’t into art.
1. Hollyhock House
In the picturesque Barnsdall Art Park, Hollyhock House is one of the best Frank Lloyd Wright sites in the United States. Designed by the legendary architect and completed in the early 1920s, Hollyhock House showcases Wright’s signature style of geometric shapes, open spaces, and seamless integration with nature.
The house gets its name from the hollyhock flower, which inspired the distinctive motifs and patterns found throughout the property. Whether you are an architecture enthusiast or simply looking to explore something new, Hollyhock House is a testament to the enduring legacy of Frank Lloyd Wright’s iconic designs.
Fun Fact: On July 7, 2019, Hollyhock House became Los Angeles’s first UNESCO World Heritage site as part of the 20th-century architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright.
2. Japanese American National Museum
For those interested in learning about the Japanese-American experience, the Japanese American National Museum is a must-visit in Los Angeles. Through various enriching experiences that include permanent collections, rotating exhibits, and traveling displays, this unique institution focuses on increasing awareness and understanding of the history and contributions of Japanese Americans. From everyday objects to personal mementos, this museum offers a rich tapestry of stories that will leave you with a newfound appreciation for the Japanese-American community.
3. Chinese American Museum
Located within El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historical Monument, considered the historic heart and birthplace of LA, the Chinese American Museum is a captivating tribute to the history and contributions of Chinese Americans. Symbolically housed in the oldest and last surviving structure of Los Angeles’s original Chinatown, the museum provides a cultural and physical link to the past while also shining a spotlight on the city’s multicultural future.
One of the highlights of the Chinese American Museum is the Sun Wing Wo general store and herb shop. This unique display is a recreation of a store in the Garnier Building in the late 1800s. It showcases a traditional Chinese herb shop and demonstrates how self-sufficient Chinese Americans were and had to be due to racism and discrimination. Although the store catered to ethnically Chinese customers, an increasing number of European, Japanese, and Mexican Americans visited to purchase Chinese merchandise over time.
4. California African American Museum
Located in Exposition Park along with several other can’t-miss museums, the California African American Museum (CAAM) is a cultural gem that celebrates African Americans. The museum’s permanent collection contains more than 5,000 objects that showcase African Americans’ extraordinary talent and creativity throughout history. In addition to its impressive collection, CAAM hosts educational programs and workshops providing a deeper understanding of African American culture, history, and art.
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5. Natural History Museum Of Los Angeles
To explore the wonders of the natural world, check out the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles. With an extensive collection of over 35 million objects, this museum offers a wealth of knowledge and excitement for visitors of all ages. One of the highlights of the Natural History Museum is its renowned Dinosaur Hall, featuring skeletons of a baby, juvenile, and sub-adult Tyrannosaurus Rex.
Beyond its indoor exhibits, the Natural History Museum also offers the opportunity to explore its outdoor Nature Gardens. These beautifully landscaped gardens are home to a wide variety of native plants and wildlife, providing a serene and immersive experience in nature. Visitors can also take advantage of guided tours and live theater shows to enhance their visit further.
6. La Brea Tar Pits And Museum
The La Brea Tar Pits and Museum is a must-visit if you’re looking for a unique and captivating museum experience in Los Angeles. This paleontological site is considered one of the world’s most fascinating, with over 3.5 million fossils discovered here.
Start at the museum, where you can explore a wide variety of exhibits and experiences. Then, head to the Fossil Lab, where you can get a front-row seat to the ongoing research and preparation of fossils found at the tar pits. You can also visit the excavation sites and observe fossil excavations in real time. Learn more about what it’s like to see the La Brea Tar Pits here.
7. California Science Center
Science lovers will also enjoy the California Science Center. The museum’s permanent exhibits allow visitors to journey through the history of fire safety, explore the beginnings of life on Earth, and delve into the intricate workings of different ecosystems. The California Science Center also houses the Apollo command module flown by American astronauts Tom Stafford, Deke Slayton, and Vance Brand to rendezvous with a Russian Soyuz orbiting Earth.
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8. Academy Museum Of Motion Pictures
Located next to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures is a must-visit for movie buffs. This museum celebrates the rich history and art of motion pictures, showcasing iconic costumes from classic movies, gowns worn by famous stars, and even Oscar statuettes. And if you’ve ever dreamed of attending the Oscars, The Oscar Experience provides a behind-the-scenes look at Hollywood’s most prestigious award ceremony. With over 13 million items in its extensive collection, the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures offers a comprehensive look into the magic of cinema, from the glamor of the red carpet to the innovation of filmmaking techniques.
9. Hollywood Wax Museum
Visiting the Hollywood Wax Museum on Hollywood Boulevard is a fun experience that allows you to take selfies with incredibly life-like wax figures from your favorite TV shows and movies. The museum also provides props and costumes, allowing you to immerse yourself in the experience and helping you capture unforgettable memories. Whether you’re a movie buff or just looking for a light-hearted and entertaining experience, the Hollywood Wax Museum is a must-visit museum in a city known for its motion picture and television industries.
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10. GRAMMY Museum L.A. Live
If music is more your jam, you’ll dig the GRAMMY Museum L.A. Live. Dedicated to the history and significance of music, it showcases a wide range of award-winning musical artists. The museum’s permanent exhibits allow you to explore how music has reflected and influenced history. But it also features a rich assortment of special exhibitions that spotlight artists like Peggy Lee, The Rolling Stones, and Shakira.
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11. Petersen Automotive Museum
Motorheads will love the Petersen Automotive Museum with its extensive collection of over 250 rare cars, motorcycles, and trucks, spanning 120 years of motoring history. Marvel at iconic vehicles that have left a lasting impact on popular culture, from the famous Batmobile to the time-traveling DeLorean from Back to the Future. You can also admire classic cars from renowned manufacturers like Porsche and Ferrari, appreciating the timeless elegance and craftsmanship that these vehicles embody.
Los Angeles is more than just a hub for art enthusiasts. It’s a city that celebrates diversity, history, and innovation in many forms. Whether you’re a movie buff, a history enthusiast, a science lover, or just someone looking for a unique experience, LA’s museums have you covered. So, next time you find yourself in the City of Angels, don’t limit yourself to its art galleries. Be sure to experience these fascinating museums, as well!
But, if you are an art lover and want to explore Los Angeles’s best art museums, here’s what you need to know.