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5 Great Art Museums You Absolutely Can’t Miss in Los Angeles

Los Angeles

Los Angeles may be known for its beaches, and Hollywood scene, but it has much more to offer than that. If you are visiting with friends and family members that are obsessed with the star life, but that isn’t your style, don’t worry, there is still plenty to do. 

And if art is more your thing, you can rest assured knowing that there are plenty of museums around Los Angeles to keep you entertained. So even if you just have an afternoon before you fly out, here are some great museums to visit. 

1. Japanese American National Museum

If you like Japanese culture and art, you can’t miss the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles. It is dedicated to promoting understanding and appreciation of America’s ethnic and cultural diversity by sharing the Japanese American experience.

In addition to the many art exhibits, there is a fascinating campus, which includes a former Buddhist temple, a pavilion designed by the famous architect, Gyo Obata, and a 200-seat theater with a plaza. 

They often feature visiting exhibits and in turn share their exhibitions with museums all over the country. Some of their previous shows include artwork by famed Mine Okubo as well as multiple interpretations highlighting the experience of more than 130 years of Japanese American history from the first Issei generation through World War II and up to the present day.

2. Los Angeles County Museum of Art

Many people walk past the Los Angeles County Museum of Art without even realizing it. Outside of the entrance is an art installation called Urban Light, made with 202 streetlamps from around L.A. People will often walk up to the lamps, taking pictures with them, before realizing there’s a whole set of breathtaking pieces just behind them. And that’s all before you get inside.

The museum often has two or three different visiting exhibits, as well as standard exhibits, so even if you’ve been before, you can see likely something new each time. 

With over 149,000 different objects that span 6,000 years of history, this museum can keep you entertained for hours, It is located within walking distance of the La Brea Tar Pits and Museum, the Petersen Automotive Museum, and El Rey Theater, so if you still have time to spare, check out one of these other buildings. 

3. The Huntington Library

The Huntington Library offers access to many multiple experiences both within and outside of its walls.

While it does have an extensive library, this research and collection-based educational institution and library founded by Henry E. Huntington in 1919 provides much more.

There is a large art collection that focuses on European art from the 18th and 19th centuries, and a collection of American art from between the 17th and 20th centuries. 

On nice days, you can also explore the botanical gardens, comprising 120 acres on the property. Included in the botanical gardens are sections such as the Japanese Garden, Desert Garden, and Chinese Garden.

In addition to its exhibitions the Library also hosts various photographic temporary exhibits that tend to be focused on certain social and political subjects to make people think and see things from various perspectives.

4. The Broad

If you are looking for more contemporary artwork, The Broad may be a great option for you. They have a lot of special and temporary exhibits but also have a few amazing and unique exhibits that are there permanently. 

One is the Infinity Mirrored Room – The Souls of Millions of Light Years Away and Longing for Eternity, both by Yayoi Kusama. These two are mirrored rooms. Filled with various lights that repeat on forever thanks to the mirrors.

In addition to the unique contemporary artwork, the building itself is designed like an art piece. The building is often called “The Veil and the Vault”, since there are sections designed to hold and display all the artwork, and there are pieces designed to hold artwork not available to public viewing.

However, despite these pieces being separated, they are still somewhat on display. Guests cannot go in directly to the vaults that hold stored artwork, but there are windows so people can look inside and get an idea of the expansive art storage.

This art museum was created by Eli and Edythe Broad. Eli originally had two Fortune 500 companies in vastly different industries. He and his wife worked together to create an art museum dedicated to contemporary art, which later came to be named after them. They also created a foundation that has helped to provide more than 600 museums with over 8,800 artwork loans since 1984.

5. The Last Bookstore

If you like both books and art, The Last Bookstore is a must-visit. This isn’t technically an art museum. It is primarily a bookstore, with 22,000 square feet. In addition to used books, it sells comics, records, and yarn. However, this store combines art with functionality; with five art studios, a book tunnel, a mammoth head, and plenty of secrets hiding in the dark nooks and crannies. 

You may never have thought about wanting to live in a bookstore before, but this one has anything and everything you could ask for to make yourself at home. You can even arrange to hold a wedding in the building.

Although fairly close to the major L.A. scenery, The Last Bookstore is a bit out of the way, so you’ll need a way to get there. Depending on how much time you have, a great alternative to renting a car is to reserve a luxury car service. For example, if you want to spend your few final hours visiting museums before you fly out of LA, we recommend airport transfers LAX to get to Last Bookstore or one of the other great museums on this list. 


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