7 Cultural Museums in Los Angeles That'll Broaden Your World
Los Angeles is so diverse, you can practical travel the globe right on the 10 Freeway. Okay, you may have to venture just slightly off the 10, but it will be well worth it to visit museums celebrating Mexican heritage, cowboy culture, African American art, car culture, and Jewish stories.
Being in the city of Los Angeles can transport you to just about any time or place, depending on the neighborhood and time of day. Choose your own adventure at any of the city’s many diverse cultural museums and monuments – and stamp your cultural passport all over the world.
Stroll down historic Olvera Street, the original pueblo of Los Angeles, now lined with Mexican restaurants and authentic toys and games from south of the border. Learn more about this Spanish settlement across the plaza at La Plaza de Culturas y Artes, a relatively new museum campus dedicated to the continuing influence of Mexican and Latino culture on Los Angeles.
Kids can take in Calle Principal, a version of Olvera Street from the 1920s, when the old Spanish square was repopulated by new immigrants from Mexico. Each re-creation of a typical Main Street storefront has interactive elements – costumes, grocery games, music stations, and Spanish reading materials. Adults can discover the story of the city in the exhibit, “LA Starts Here!”
Cowboys and Indians loom large at the Autry National Center in Griffith Park. Celebrate the great American West with country music from the legend himself (TV cowboy Gene Autry, the museum’s founder and namesake), or learn about the shared artistic influences of Native Americans and Wild West pioneers in an exhibit devoted to practical arts (furniture, clothing and interior design).
Country music sing-a-longs and exhibit-specific scavenger hunts spark the imagination of your little ones.
Preserving the art and culture of African Americans on the west coast, the California African American Museum is yet another piece of the museum hub in Exposition Park. Blending permanent exhibits that explore African American history with rotating events that promote cultural legacy, the museum’s offerings are diverse and often one-time-only.
Outdoor film screenings dovetail nicely with exhibits on view and feature a discussion time after the fact. Jazz performers and contemporary musicians perform live at the museum during Black Music Month.
Supplement your visit with a trip to nearby Leimert Park Plaza for more live music throughout the year.
With such a large population of Japanese-Americans in Los Angeles, it makes sense that the ethnic neighborhood of Little Tokyo in downtown would also be home to the Japanese American National Museum. Subjects of exhibits range from ancient samurai swords to Hello Kitty merchandise, displaying the diversity between ancient and modern Japanese culture filtered through the lens of Japanese-American exports.
Learn taiko drumming with your kids or take them to the Kamishibai Theater for a traditional form of Japanese storytelling. Down the street from the museum, a variety of delicious lunch options await: a bento box of teriyaki chicken, ramen noodle bowls, gooey mochi ice cream, and rice bowls are just a few options.
Learn all you ever wanted to know about another prominent sector of Los Angeles society. The ancient culture of Judaism and its intersections with American democracy is the subject of the Skirball Cultural Center’s exhibits and experiences.
Rock concerts, spoken word poetry, homage to Jewish beat poets and the 50’s-era film noir made by exiled Jewish film directors are just some of the offerings you can expect to find at this fiercely modern and always-inspiring museum.
Families love musical performances in the Amphitheatre that take them on an auditory road trip through the U.S. But the winning exhibit for kids is Noah’s Ark, a wooden structure built for climbing aboard, playing with and matching up the animals that need to gain passage – all while exploring concepts of community.
Located in the oldest building in LA's "Old Chinatown," the museum is dedicated to the Chinese American experience and history in Southern California. Ongoing exhibits showcase the vibrant Chinese immigrant history that began over 150 years ago when the first major Chinese settlement was documented in Los Angeles. Sun Wing Wo General Store and Herb Shop is a recreation of an actual store that was housed in the Garnier Building in the 1890’s. The store was a multi-purpose space that showed how self-sufficient the Chinese were and had to be due to racism and discrimination, while also being responsive to the needs of their community. Temporary exhibits zero in on focused topics that deserve closer investigation. Special events include art exhibitions and musical showcases.
Planning a trip to Los Angeles? Which attractions are top of your list? Share ‘em with us in the comments below!
Mesa Drifters by Logan Maxwell Hagege. Hello Kitty Display by enchanted_fairy/Shutterstock. Petersen Automotive Museum by Mr. Interior/Shutterstock.Tags : travel los angeles california