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5 of the Best Museums to Visit in Los Angeles

Tracy Givens
November 18, 2022

While scouting around looking for the best views of The Hollywood Sign, don't forget about the other amazing landmarks that Los Angeles has to offer. You might not immediately think of LA when you think about museums, but trust us—a visit to one of these beauties will be a time well spent.

Are you a film buff who wants a closer look at Oscar history? Check. An automobile collector with a flair for the dramatic? Check. A family looking for an activity to entertain the kids and distract them from their phones? Check and check.

Here's a closer look at the best museums to visit in Los Angeles.

Academy Museum of Motion Pictures

Academy Museum of Motion Pictures

LA's newest museum can be found right next to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (see below), so if you're hoping to visit both in one day, you're in luck. The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures appeals to the most likely to visit this area, to begin with: serious movie fans.

While within its walls, you'll have the opportunity to view costumes from classic movies, including the iconic ruby slippers from 1939's The Wizard of Oz. There are also numerous gowns and outfits once worn by famous stars who walked the red carpet and the Oscar statuettes themselves.

Note that you'll need an advance reservation to visit this museum. All children under the age of 17 are admitted for free.

Los Angeles County Museum of Art

Did you know that the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, or LACMA, is the biggest art museum in the western US? Once you're inside, you'll believe it. The space is home to more than 145,000 pieces, covering 6000 years of art history.

There are works from Picasso and Matisse on permanent display and outdoor exhibits, such as Chris Barden's Urban Light sculpture. They're joined by scores of ancient Etruscan, Greek, and Roman artifacts. Younger visitors are sure to be taken in by the rotating exhibitions, which focus on more contemporary work.

Petersen Automotive Museum

Petersen Automotive Museum

In LA, cool cars are just a part of the landscape as the Hollywood sign. The Petersen Automotive Museum captures this aspect of the culture, focusing on the future of the automobile in addition to its rich history.

With its bright red exterior accented by steel ribbons, the museum has plenty of eye appeal on its own. But inside, you'll find models of cars like the DeLorean, immortalized in Back to the Future, and others featured in the Batman and James Bond films. And if you're worried that the kids will be bored, fear not—there's an entire storytelling exhibit featuring characters from Disney/Pixar's Cars series.

The Getty

The Getty Villa

Museums don't get much classier than the Getty, which spans two campuses and houses an impressive collection of art dating back to the medieval period. Getty Villa in Pacific Palisades was the original venue, but more of the collection can now be found in the Getty Center.

Feast your eyes on paintings by Rembrandt, Rubens, Van Gogh, and Renoir, along with Greek and Roman sculptures and antiquities. If you're a literature fan—or even if you're not—you should certainly view the numerous illuminated manuscripts from Medieval Germany. For a special experience, sign up for one of Getty's guided tours.

Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County

The Natural History Museum is undoubtedly one of the best museums to visit in Los Angeles, but if you have children going through a dino-loving phase, it may just be one of the best in the country. It's educational, but it also offers kiddos a chance to run around and get dirty—a rarity in these modern times.

Check out the dinosaur bones and wildlife dioramas before turning the kids loose in the Get Dirty Zone, where they can explore a house built from willow branches. Even if you don't have young ones in your party, the dioramas are worth a look, as are the architectural details of the building itself. Don't miss the stained-glass dome and marble columns in the rotunda.

With all the culture and history that Los Angeles offers, we hope you'll soon be planning a return visit!

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