Best Museums Los Angeles
Credit: Iwan Baan

22 of the Best Museums in Los Angeles and How to Get in for Free

Art, Culture and History Collide at These Amazing LA Museums

Charged with the power to transmit powerful social statements, provide a touch of aesthetic beauty and express our innermost emotions to those in our community, art can be found in the tiniest details. With International Museum Day (May 18) right around the corner, there’s no better time to visit one of Los Angeles’ museums. Diverging from traditional forms of artistic craft, the city is home to a wealth of specialized showrooms highlighting everything from the art of automobiles to natural landscapes, digital media and so much more. Here are 22 of the best museums in Los Angeles and how to get in for free!

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The Broad

Best Museums Los Angeles
Credit: Metrolink

A contemporary art museum that houses Eli and Edythe Broad’s collection of more than 2,000 post-war works. Don’t skip the Infinity Mirrored Room!

Free Days: Every day (except special exhibits). Tickets must be reserved in advance.

7/4

 

Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA)

A mainstay on LA’s Museum Row that displays artistic expressions from around the globe. There are over 150,000 collections to explore, including Chris Burden’s iconic “Urban Light” sculpture.

Free Days: Second Tuesday of each month (all visitors) and weekdays after 3 p.m. for LA County residents.

 

The Getty Center

The world’s largest cultural organization supporting global arts with collections and exhibitions highlighting artistic talent and cultural heritage from around the world. There’s a total of 125,000 objects on display!

Free days: Tuesday-Sunday (closed Mondays)

7/8

 

The Huntington Library

Best Museums Los Angeles
Credit: The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens

Houses a visual timeline documenting British, European, American and Asian art history. Folk art, prints, paintings, drawings and photography are complemented by contemporary art displays.

Free Days: First Thursday of every month 

6/18

 

Norton Simon

Credit: Norton Simon Museum

Formed from Norton Simon’s original storied collection of visual arts from 19th and 20th century painters like Daumier, Degas and Picasso, this modern-day gallery now boasts 12,000 pieces. 

Free days: First Friday of every month from 4-7 p.m. 

 

The Getty Villa Museum

Credit: Hester Qiang

The sister museum to the Getty Center, this Roman-inspired museum sits on the Malibu coastline. Major highlights of this exquisite roasting gallery include Greek and Roman antiquities, including The Beauty of Palmyra, Statue of a Victorious Youth and the Caeretan Hydria.

Free Days: Every day

7/7

 

Academy Museum of Motion Pictures

Best Museums Los Angeles
Credit: Academy Museum

An ode to the art of moviemaking, this the largest museum dedicated to the sciences and artists of the film industry. Don’t skip out the seasonal exhibitions that reveal behind-the-scenes production of classic film favorites like “Casablanca” and “The Godfather.” 

Free Days: Every day for youth ages 17 and under

 

Hammer Museum

Best Museums Los Angeles
Credit: Eric Staundemaier

Consists of a curated collection of historical and contemporary art pieces as well as weekly programs that highlight modern social justice issues. The exhibitions highlight cutting-edge, controversial and under-represented artists from local LA districts. 

Free Days: Every day

 

Natural History Museum

Celebrating the diversity of vibrant, flourishing landscapes found across the globe, this exposition park features botanical gardens, a butterfly pavilion and dioramas. The dueling dinos exhibit is a particular fan favorite!

Free Days: Monday-Friday from 3 to 5 p.m. for LA County residents 

 

California Science Center

Credit: California Science Center

A catalyst for sparking creativity and innovation in communities, this inspirational science center examines the interconnectedness of the planet’s ecosystems, air and space, and more. Special exhibitions include Leonardo da Vinci, The Curious World of Seaweed and Goos Bumps! The Science of Fear.

Free Days: Every day 

 

MOCA Grand Avenue

Credit: Elon Schoenholz

As the only artist-founded museum in Los Angeles, MOCA Grand Avenue is the largest of its three LA locations. Classical architecture displays and contemporary art pieces speak to trending Los Angeles pop culture.

Free Days: Every day

 

The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA

A police car warehouse-turned-museum, the sister location to MOCA Grand Avenue is home to 40,000 square feet of contemporary art exhibitions.

Free Days: Every day

 

Craft Contemporary

A unique gem in Los Angeles, exhibits at this art institution examine the influential power of artistic pieces formed from craft media and processes, with an emphasis on supporting emerging artists. Educational programs and hands-on workshops complement innovative displays. 

Free Days: Sundays (pay what you wish!)

 

Autry Museum

Founded as a token of acknowledgment to the Gabrielino/Tongva people who once inhabited Tovaangar (now the Los Angeles basin and the Channel Islands), this museums boasts exhibits like Western Frontiers: Stories of Fact and Fiction, Art of the West and The Balance of Power on the American Frontier. 

Free Days: Every Tuesday and Wednesday from 1-4 p.m. Reservations are required.

 

LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes

Best Museums Los Angeles
Credit: LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes

An interactive fiesta of Latinx culture that commemorates Mexican and Mexican American people across Southern California. Exhibitions range from transformative music to its culinary arts program, LA Cocina de Gloria Molina. 

Free Days: Every day 

 

Skirball Cultural Center

Best Museums Los Angeles
Credit: Skirball Cultural Center

Rooted in Jewish heritage and culture, this cultural oasis explores the universal concepts of freedom and equality through immersive exhibitions, such as the fan-favorite Noah’s Ark exploratory exhibit. Little ones can explore the wooden-crafted ark teeming with wildlife that demonstrates the sacred connection between all forms of life.

Free Days: Every Thursday

 

Museum of Latin American Art

Houses a bold, vibrant portfolio of contemporary Latin American and Latino art with a permanent collection of 1,300 art pieces and a 15,000-square-foot sculpture garden. 

Free Days: Every Sunday 

 

La Brea Tar Pits

Best Museums Los Angeles
Credit: La Brea Tar Pits & Museum

This is an active paleontological research site that doubles as a National Natural Landmark. Capturing the history of the Ice Age, exhibitions like the Lake Pit and Dire Wolf Wall bring this period to life through interactive displays. 

Free Days: Free for active or retired military and California PreK-12 teachers; Free for LA County residents Monday-Friday from 3 to 5 p.m.

 

Hauser & Wirth

Credit: Hauser & Wirth

A single outpost of an international gallery, this glamourous showroom displays modern and contemporary art pieces, including works from Louise Bourgeois, Eva Hesse and Jason Rhoades. 

Free Days: Every day

 

Vincent Price Art Museum

Credit: Monica Orozco

A valuable resource for the diverse audience of East Los Angeles College and the surrounding community, each showroom here highlights visual art demonstrations from Mesoamerican, African, Native American and European cultures.

Free Days: Every day

 

Griffith Observatory

Perhaps the most iconic museum in Los Angeles County, this popular attraction sheds light on the galaxy’s night sky through telescopes, exhibits and live shows inside the Samuel Oschin Planetarium and Leonard Nimoy Event Horizon Theater.

Free Days: Tuesday-Sunday (closed Monday)

 

Torrance Art Museum

Los Angeles’s premier visual art gallery with an emphasis on handcrafted contemporary works from the Southern California region. Its two gallery spaces host modern art pieces as well as educational programs, artist talks and symposia.

Free Days: Every day

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