Best of LA: How We Picked The Best Museum Tour

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We played tourist on this one and joined guided groups in museum foyers around town. We came, we saw, we asked arty questions. Here’s how these edifying jaunts, which are free with admission, stacked up

THE CONTENDERS
Getty Villa’s Collection’s Highlights Tour
Natural History Museum’s Gallery Exploration Tour
Los Angeles County Museum of Art’s In Focus Tour
Norton Simon Museum’s Spotlight Talks 

ROUND 1
The LACMA docent walked too fast, and her knowledge of the material wasn’t impressive. The Norton Simon’s offerings are infrequent—Spotlight Talks are on Saturdays; one-hour guided tours, only twice a month—and weekend traffic caused us to miss out on the first try. 

THE FINALS
Collection Highlights Tour
We’ll never look at a nude statue the same way after the Getty Villa’s daily tour. The guide knew her stuff, right down to ancient poses, but her delivery was a tad on the dry side. 

Gallery Exploration Tour
The NHM guide modified our tour when she realized not everyone was intrigued by gardens. We learned about dinosaur poop before sniffing out the difference between Thai and Italian basil. 

THE WINNER
Natural History Museum’s Gallery Exploration Tour
Despite the large size of our group, the guide was personable, doling out plenty of positive reinforcement, and she knew the place well. After unhooking a velvet rope, she led us through the “VIP exit” to the brand-new gardens. » 900 Exposition Blvd., South L.A. 

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