L.A.’s Hidden Art & Culture

From an eye-opening cemetery to a jaw-dropping dinosaur den to a house of Duesenberg worship, let the horizon broadening begin

Clark Memorial Library
Constructed in the 1920s by William Andrews Clark Jr. as a tribute to his copper baron father, the Italian baroque library resides in a parklike setting in West Adams. It houses some of the world’s rarest manuscripts and the definitive collection of Oscar Wilde’s works. The coveted tickets for intimate chamber music concerts are only $25 and are awarded by lottery. If you can’t score one, the library also offers lectures and tours; the male nude on the vestibule ceiling is reputedly of Clark’s longtime boyfriend. » 2520 Cimarron St., West Adams, 323-731-8529.

Raymond M. Alf Museum Of Paleontology
Located in a circular stone-bespeckled building designed by Millard Sheets, it’s the country’s only accredited museum on a high school campus. And not just any campus: The Webb Schools is the prestigious private academy that gave David Lee Roth and Ron Reagan Jr. the boot. Famous for its collection of trackways (fossilized impressions made by ancient animals), the compact two-story museum also holds a sizable collection of dinosaur bones and castings, including a life-size brontosaurus and the fierce-looking skull of the improbably named diablosaurus. » 1175 W. Baseline Rd., Claremont, 909-624-2798.

The Nethercutt Collection
A top the Merle Norman Cosmetics Factory, the four-level museum holds the cache of vintage cars, music boxes, orchestrions, and hood ornaments amassed by the company’s late cofounder, J.B. Nethercutt. He and his wife, Dorothy, hosted dinners and concerts among the treasures for years. No need to wait for an invite; to see the massive re-creation of an old auto showroom or anything else, book the two-hour tour, which culminates in a prerecorded recital on the Mighty Wurlitzer. » 15200 Bledsoe St., Sylmar, 818-364-6464.

Forest Lawn Museum
Decades ago tourists would stream into Forest Lawn cemetery to enjoy the art and architecture created by founder Hubert Eaton. Beneath an electrified cross at the top of the compound, he erected a museum to hold the relics he’d accumulated, from sculpture to armor to stained glass. A few years ago the institution was revamped under a new curator, who has brought unexpected exhibitions about tiki culture and custom car design to the once stuffy repository. » 1712 S. Glendale Ave., Glendale, 800-204-3131.

Foursquare Church
Trailblazing 1920s evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson used her theatrical flourish and the power of radio to fill her cavernous Angelus Temple three times a day. She lived around the corner in a two-story compound called the Parsonage, which has become a museum dedicated to the Foursquare Church founder. Artifacts like her Bible and typewriter are laid out as they were when she lived here, but the 21st-century talking hologram of Sister Aimee is something she could never have imagined. » 1100 Glendale Blvd., Echo Park, 213-816-1109.

Wells Fargo Museum
Touring the Wild West on the ground floor of a skyscraper is one of downtown’s odder surprises. The weathered stagecoach alone is worth a peek, but you’ll want money in the meter after you see the aged six-shooters, bank notes, gold nuggets, and rusty miners’ gear on display. Just don’t go on the weekend (it’s closed), and do call ahead to avoid field trippers. » 333 S. Grand Ave., downtown, 213-253-7166.

Public Education
The works of famous artists are all around downtown—and not only at Moca

theessentials_masa_tIsamu Noguchi
A fountain, pine trees, masonry, and a pair of 20-ton basalt boulders unite in To the Issei, the sculptor’s peaceful garden plaza at the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center. It hides behind a concrete wall fronting the street. » 244 S. San Pedro St.

theessentials_masa_tRobert Rauschenberg
Fargo Podium
—a glass-enclosed collage of photos, X rays, and silks—sits before an Equinox gym, exposed to the elements on the Citigroup Center’s mezzanine, evoking the ancient and the futuristic, the natural and the man-made. » 444 S. Flower St.

theessentials_masa_tJoan Miro
It should be hard to miss an 11-foot-tall female nude made from an outhouse seat, soccer balls, and a donkey’s hat, but the Wells Fargo Center courtyard bustles at lunchtime. The Spaniard’s 1967 La Caresse d’un Oiseau stands in an alcove behind CPK. » 333 S. Grand Ave.

Most of the guerrilla stencils the English artist created when he visited L.A. for the premiere of Exit Through the Gift Shop are gone. But one of a girl swinging from the word parking survives at fashion designer Tarina Tarantino’s Sparkle Factory.  » 908 S. Broadway.