LACMA, MOCA, the Getty. If you hear “Los Angeles” and “museum” mentioned in the same breath, it’s likely that someone is talking about these stalwarts of L.A.’s cultural life. But a willingness to travel off the beaten track offers great rewards—and a chance to engage with some less familiar aspects of Angeleno art and history. This coming Saturday, you’ll get a chance to check them out for free: It’s the Museums Free-for-All, when twenty area museums welcome visitors free of charge. While you might want to use this opportunity for some of the pricier sites—like the Getty Villa—if you’re looking to avoid crowds and see something different, we’ve got a couple of recommendations:
William S. Hart Park
The home of silent movie star William S. Hart, this Newhall museum is a great destination for adults and kids alike. Featuring a tour of the star’s home, which contains artworks by famed Western artists Frederic Remington, Joe de Yong and Charles M. Russell, the park also boasts a bison herd and a collection of barn animals. Public tours are given every half hour.
Where: 24151 Newhall Avenue, Newhall
Chinese American Museum
This tiny gem is located in El Pueblo del Los Angeles, near historic Olvera Street. Located on the site of the original Chinatown, the best—and most interactive aspect of the museum—is the replica nineteenth-century Chinese herbalist’s shop. Following the arc of Chinese-American presence in Los Angeles, the museum explores the area we know today as Chinatown as well as the emerging Chinese-American presence in Monterey Park.
Where : 425 N. Los Angeles Street,
Torrance Art Museum
Currently hosting two exhibitions, Sincerely Yours, a re-examination of Romanticism and Manifest American Mythic, an exploration of the Old West, this museum is worth a visit. Make sure to take a look at works by painters Annie Lapin (whom we’ve covered in the past) and Maja Ruznic.
Where: 3320 Civic Center Drive, Torrance
Los Angeles Fire Department Museum
With locations in San Pedro and Hollywood, this special museum allows you learn about safety and pay tribute to some of our city’s most important heroes. See Old Fire Boat No. 2, which was involved in some of L.A. harbor’s biggest fires, or pay a visit to Fire Station 27 on Cahuenga Blvd, which contains a perfectly restored 1930s fire station.
Where: 1355 N. Cahuenga Blvd, Hollywood & 638 Beacon Street, San Pedro
Paley Center for the Media
Make sure to get to the Paley Center this Saturday to catch the Steven Soboroff typewriter exhibition. This special exhibit, which closes on Sunday, showcases typewriters owned by the famous and the infamous: machines used by Ernest Hemingway and John Lennon are on view, among others. And as always, you can check out the center’s collection of over 160,000 television shows, commercials and radio programs.
Where: 465 N. Beverly Drive, Beverly Hills
Craft and Folk Art Museum
Located across the street from its more famous neighbor LACMA, the Craft and Folk Art Museum is currently displaying three new exhibits that are all edgy and provocative, in different ways. Man-Made: Contemporary Male Quilters comprises quilts made by male artists, which contain unexpected content, such as sci-fi and heavy metal. Focus Iran explores contemporary Iranian photography and video, and The Pile, by artist Jonas Becker, is a multimedia piece employing video, photography and handcrafted sculpture, interrogating the nature of unfulfilled desire. The exhibits are on view until May 3. Admission is normally $9, so don’t miss this opportunity so catch great art for free.
Where: 5814 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles