Find Inspiration at This Month’s Must-See Exhibits at L.A. Museums and Galleries


We’re blessed with an abundance of museums and art galleries here in L.A., but with so many shows rotating in and out at any given time, it can be hard to keep up. Nobody wants to be the person who only finds out about a cool exhibit when it’s closing down and heading out of town. To help you make the most of your gallery-going, we’ve picked five fantastic shows currently on view.

New Openings in May

Beyond the Streets — Werkartz Studios

May 6 to July 6

Beyond the Streets is something of a sequel to the blockbuster 2011 MOCA exhibit Art in the Streets, but it takes the concept in a bigger, bolder direction. The show pops up in a 40,000-square-foot indoor-and-outdoor space, with immersive environments, large-scale installations, and works on display by over 100 influential artists from Jean-Michel Basquiat to Shepard Fairey.

Pathways to Paradise: Medieval India and Europe — Getty Center

May 1 to August 5

Global sharing of ideas didn’t start with the invention of the internet. Explore these ancient illuminated manuscripts which reveal the cultural exchange between Asia and Europe dating back to the medieval era. The pieces include small works with religious themes that travelers would often transport with them as they moved, often providing the first glimpses of the beliefs and practices of people from far-off places.

Ongoing Exhibits

Shinique Smith: Refuge — California African American Museum

Closes September 9

Shinique Smith’s first solo show at CAAM is inspired in part by her recent move to Los Angeles, themes of displacement, housing insecurity, and homelessness, and the physical landscape of Southern California. The artist hails from Baltimore (and even appeared in some John Waters movies) and lived in New York City before finding herself drawn to L.A., finally moving here at the beginning of 2018. In just a few months, she’s soaked up inspiration for a compelling show that reflects the city in a way even natives will find eye-opening.

Louise Bourgeois: The Red Sky – Hauser & Wirth

Closes May 20

This solo show collects a group of works never publicly displayed before, all created between 2007 and the artist’s death in 2010. While you may know her best from her large-scale sculptures, she was also a renowned painter and printmaker, as these works on paper express.

David Hockney: 82 Portraits and 1 Still-Life — LACMA

Closes July 29

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David Hockney may have been born in England, but he’s made L.A. his home for much of his life. Even now, 50 years into his career, he’s still making art inspired by the city, its environment, and the people who live here. Most of the works in this show were created in his L.A. studio, and many of the 82 portraits’ subjects were locals, too. This exhibit, which originated at the Royal Academy of Arts in London, makes its only U.S. appearance at LAMCA.

Rafa Esparza: De la Calle — Institute of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles

Closes July 15


For L.A. artist Rafa Esparza’s first solo museum exhibit, he will be turning the ICALA Project Room into a collaborative art-making space where he will work with a diverse group of other local artists and creatives from the city’s cultural scene, producing works that will be created in public view and displayed as soon as they are completed. The pieces will then be collected into a final portfolio and a culminating live performance staged en la calle amid the bustle of DTLA’s Santee Alley. Look for themes of identity, colonialism, history, and community.

Real Worlds: Brassaï, Arbus, Goldin — MOCA Grand Avenue

Closes September 3

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Curator Lanka Tattersall dove deep into MOCA’s own collection for most of the works on display in this exploration of three of the most influential photographers of the past century, Brassaï, Diane Arbus, and Nan Goldin. Expect poignant, occasionally unsettling, and often beautiful photos documenting moments of modern life.

King Tut: Treasures of the Golden Pharaoh — California Science Center

Closes January 6, 2019


Celebrating the 100th anniversary of the discovery of King Tut’s tomb, this touring exhibition is the most complete collection of artifacts ever shown outside of Egypt. While the run lasts over six months, don’t wait until the last minute to check it out—tickets for this blockbuster show have been selling out weeks in advance.

Closing Soon

Jasper Johns: Something Resembling Truth — The Broad Museum

Closes May 13


One of the most complete retrospectives ever assembled of Jasper Johns’s career (which, after six decades, is still in progress), this show is stuffed with some of the most iconic works of 20th century American art. All the targets and flags you’re expecting are here, as are a number of special pieces that, before now, had never been publicly displayed.

Unspeakable: Atlas, Kruger, Walker — Hammer Museum 

Closes May 13


For this exhibition, the Hammer Contemporary Collection has installed influential video works from three legendary artists: Charles Atlas, Barbara Kruger, and Kara Walker. The pieces show very diverse approaches and styles, but have in common that they were all made within the last 10 years and that they are all powerful statements on identity in American culture.

Adrián Villar Rojas: The Theater of Disappearance — The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA

Closes May 13

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This complex, site-specific installation, built into the museum’s warehouse space, features glowing, other-worldly displays. Sculptures made from concrete, clay, petrified wood, found objects, and other materials are displayed in glass cases, like alien medical specimens. Old shoes and organic bits are placed on the floor to give the impression that the space is some kind of laboratory, which was hastily abandoned and has been left to begin to decay.

RELATED: This Jasper Johns Retrospective Is the Broad’s Next Big Thing

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