Los Angeles, the city of angels and dreams. LA is what you imagine when you think of California, It is the city you picture in films and music videos, and yet it is so much more. When I decided to travel to Los Angeles I didn’t know what to expect, a lot of people told me I shouldn’t spend there more than 2 or 3 days, but I was personally very intrigued by that city.
And it did not disappoint me. To be honest, no matter how much I love New York City, I would have a very tough time choosing between LA and NYC.
It could be because of the beach vibes, the warm weather, those big highways that look a lot like freedom and adventures, or just because I am a dreamer as everyone who lives and loves LA, but that city has something magical and it shows.

Sure it has its pros and cons. Like the traffic, or the fact that it is so spread out that it feels like you are constantly on a journey of some sort every time you have to get outside to run errands or just meet some friends. But boy, those palm trees are beautiful!
And since I have a friend that just recently moved to LA and keeps sending me beautiful photos of the City of Angels, I figured I should write something about its thrilling art scene.

Because Los Angeles is more than just fit bodies, boulevards, and sunny beaches. It is a thriving and exciting destination for contemporary art, with huge museums and galleries, and a million smaller spaces.
So, as we wait for the pandemic to be over, let’s daydream of LA and discover four major museums in Los Angeles worth a trip to California.

MOCA – Museum of Contemporary Art Los Angeles

The Los Angeles Times called it the most impressive collection of contemporary art in America, and it is in fact one of the most interesting museums you can visit in the US. With a collection of over 6000 pieces, mostly donated by board members, artists, and Hollywood personalities, MOCA Los Angeles is the number one museum you want to visit in LA.
It has two branches not too far away from one another. The main branch is located in Downtown Los Angeles, the second one – known as the Geffen Contemporary – in Little Tokyo. Moreover, it has a third location in the Nevada desert, where you can visit Michael Heizer’s earthwork Double Negative.

The museum exhibits both American and International contemporary art, created after the 1940s.
Its massive collection has a piece for everyone, whatever you like you can rest assured they have it. Any big artist from the past sixty to eighty years is part of the collection, whether you are looking for paintings, sculptures, video art, performances, land art, minimal, pop art. You name it, they have it.

The collection is on view year-round and they additionally host temporary exhibitions, working with some of the most interesting contemporary artists around.
Needless to say, they also have a rich program of events, lectures, artist talks, tours, and activities, for families, kids, teens, and adults. And while you are at The Geffen Contemporary branch, don’t forget to stop at the WAREHOUSE, MOCA’s bookstore and cafe, where you can enjoy video installations and other artworks while sipping a coffee or working from your laptop.
To top it all off, the general admission to the museum is always free, but I would strongly recommend visiting the temporary exhibitions as well.

MOCA Los Angeles
Main branch: 250 South Grand Avenue; Los Angeles, California 90012
The Geffen Contemporary: 152 N Central Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90012, United States

Info, tickets and opening hours: 

LACMA – Los Angeles County Museum of Art

LACMA has one of the funniest social media managers of all time. I love following their Instagram page for its hilarious posts and art memes!
But other than the IG page, the museum is sensational. It has a collection of over 150.000 works, spanning the history of art from ancient times to the present.

Located on Museum Row on Wilshire Boulevard, the museum was first opened in 1961 and it is now the largest art museum in the western United States, with nearly a million visitors annually.
The structure was initially supposed to be demolished in 2004 to be replaced by a larger new building designed by Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas, but the project was never funded and it was later replaced by a new renovation project by Renzo Piano.

The museum’s collection is not specifically focused on contemporary artists, but modern and contemporary art have two entire buildings of their own. In the Ahmanson Building, you will find the Modern Art collection, which comprises works from 1900 to the 1970s. The Contemporary Art collection is displayed in the Broad Contemporary Art Museum (BCAM).
The admission is always free for the general collection, so why not also checking out the amazing Asian and African collections while there? The museum is huge, so plan ahead and give yourself enough time to visit it.

Los Angeles museum - LACMA - Chris Burden Urban Lights

Photo by Ruben Gutierrez on Unsplash

Lastly, LACMA is where you will find Chris Burden’s Urban Light installation. Created in 2008, it consists of 202 antique cast-iron street lights from various cities in and around the Los Angeles area. The lights turn on in the evening and are one of the most instagrammable and Insta-famous spots in all Los Angeles!

5905 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90036

Info, tickets, and opening hours:

“Hammer Museum” by Smart Destinations is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Hammer Museum

Drive west from LACMA down Wilshire Boulevard, and you won’t miss the striped building of the Hammer Museum. This is yet another free contemporary art museum in Los Angeles you really don’t want to miss.
The museum was founded by Armand Hammer to exhibit his extensive art collection, after a failed attempt to donate it to the LACMA. Hammer disagreed with the museum on how his collection would be displayed and decided to open his own museum instead. Oh, the things we do for love!

The museum opened in 1990 and ever since its opening it has become one of the leading institutions in Los Angeles. It is now affiliated with the University of California Los Angeles, and together with its permanent collection and temporary exhibitions, it also hosts a very rich program of events, lectures, activities, and also artist residencies.
The museum made a name for itself not just for the amazing collection, but also for the interesting temporary exhibitions, that focus on over-looked as well as emerging contemporary artists. Here you will find artworks ranging from Van Gogh to Paul McCarthy to Sarah Lucas, Petrit Halilaj, or Marisa Merz.
Lastly, since 2010 the museum also hosts its biennale, named Made in L.A. Devoted exclusively to Los Angeles artists, it has become one of the leading platforms for California and Los Angeles based artists and a focal point for the local art scene.

Hammer Museum
10899 Wilshire Blvd,  Los Angeles, CA 90024

Info, tickets, and opening hours:

The Broad Museum

If you want to stay around the Downtown Los Angeles area, then The Broad museum is the destination for you. Founded in 2015 by philanthropists Eli and Edythe Broad, it is located on Grand Avenue, just opposite the Walt Disney Concert Hall. 
The museum was built from scratch following the project by NY based architecture firm Diller Scofidio + Renfro and features a honeycomblike facade, light filled galleries and a strange, minimal, yet fascinating lobby. 
The museum’s collection, comprising over 2.000 works, is on display together with rotating temporary exhibitions. The collection features 200 artists, ranging from the 1950s to the present day, that is made accessible to everyone through free entrance and a vast program of activities. 
It includes works by Jeff Koons, Ed Ruscha, Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol, Yayoi Kusama, Ragnar Kjartansson, and the largest collection of Cindy Sherman works worldwide.

The Broad Museum
221 S Grand Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90012

Info, tickets, and opening hours:

Photo by Pedro Marroquin on Unsplash