While some associate fine art exclusively with the museums of Europe and New York City, Los Angeles's ever-expanding art scene makes a strong case for the city's status as a major cultural hub. The city is teeming with art museums worthy of your attention, not only for their groundbreaking exhibitions but for their impressive permanent collections. If you find yourself in L.A. and at a loss for something to do, consider spending the day perusing the halls of one of L.A.'s many art museums.
If you're a fan of contemporary art, head downtown to pay a visit to The Broad. If impressionism is what gets your heart racing, drive north to Pasadena where the Norton Simon Museum holds some of the most groundbreaking works of the 19th century. If you want a little bit of everything (with the added bonus of one of the best views of the city) take the 405 to the J. Paul Getty Museum. Just be sure to set aside a full day to make it through all of the impressive galleries and stunning gardens.
Ready to see L.A. in a whole new light? Whether you're a local or just visiting for the weekend, these are the art museums in Los Angeles worth visiting. All you have to do is choose where to begin.
The Museum of Contemporary Art
Permanent Collection: The only artist-founded museum in Los Angeles, The Museum of Contemporary Art was established in 1979 and currently houses around 7000 objects of contemporary art. They specialize in all mediums of art created after 1940. Think Ansel Adams, Jackson Pollock, Robert Rauschenberg, and Joseph Kosuth.
Currently on View: Real Worlds: Brassaï, Arbus, Goldin
Must-See: "Red and Brown" by Mark Rothko (1957)
Visit: 250 South Grand Avenue, Los Angeles, California, 90012
Norton Simon Museum
Permanent Collection: This art museum located in idyllic Pasadena holds art from the greats like Raphael, Rembrandt, Degas, Courbet, and Van Gogh. In addition to the astounding collection of European works from the Renaissance to the 20th century, you can enjoy the simply stunning sculpture garden outside, where you can walk among casts of some of Rodin's finest works.
Currently on View: Line & Color: The Nature of Ellsworth Kelly
Must-See: "Portrait of a Peasant" by Vincent van Gogh (1888)
Visit: 411 West Colorado Boulevard, Pasadena, California, 91105
Permanent Collection: One of L.A.'s newest art museums, The Broad opened its doors in 2015 and has become the destination for contemporary art in the city. Founded by philanthropists and avid art collectors Eli and Edyth Broad, the museum is home to over 2000 works of art. You likely recognize popular works displayed in the museum like Jeff Koons's iconic oversize balloon animals from your Instagram feed.
Currently on View: A Journey That Wasn't
Must-See: "Norm's, La Cienega, On Fire" by Ed Ruscha
Visit: 221 South Grand Avenue, Los Angeles, California, 90012
California African American Museum
Permanent Collection: The California African American Museum exclusively acquires art made by African, diasporic, and African American artists. There, you'll find over 4000 objects from paintings and photography to mixed media and sculpture from the 1800s to the present, making it one of the most expansive museums of its kind.
Currently on View: Alder Guerrier: Conditions and Forms for blck Longevity
Must-See: "Extra Value (After Venus)" by Genevieve Gaignard (2016)
Visit: 600 State Drive, Exposition Park Los Angeles, California, 90037
Permanent Collection: Shortly after the museum was opened by Armand Hammer, it partnered with UCLA to form the institution that exists today. The Hammer Museum's permanent collection consists of everything from 16th-century European and American art to contemporary drawings, sculptures, and paintings. Located near UCLA's campus in Westwood, the museum is easily accessible.
Currently on View: Made in L.A. 2018
Must-See: "The Massacre at the Rue Transnonain, April 15. 1834" by Honoré Daumier (1834)
Visit: 10899 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, California, 90024
The J. Paul Getty Museum
Permanent Collection: Commonly known as The Getty, this expansive museum is filled with some of the most magnificent art on the West Coast. It houses antiquities, drawings, paintings, photographs, manuscripts, and sculptures from across the globe. Head here if you're looking to spend an entire day wandering through gallery upon gallery of works of art all in the most scenic location.
Currently on View: Icons of Style: A Century of Fashion Photography, 1911-2011
Must-See: "Still Life with Apples" by Paul Cézanne (1893-1894)
Visit: 1200 Getty Center Drive, Los Angeles, California, 90049
La Plaza de Cultura Y Artes
Permanent Collection: At the LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes, you'll find art that remembers and celebrates the influence of Mexican and Mexican American culture, specifically focusing on the Mexican American experience in Los Angeles. It houses interactive exhibits and thoughtful exhibitions in order to tell the ongoing story of Mexican Americans in Southern California and the rest of the country.
Currently on View: LA Starts Here!
Must-See: Calle Principal: Main Street Los Angeles, 1920s
Visit: 501 North Main Street, Los Angeles, California, 90012
Permanent Collection: Located just outside of Los Angeles, this art museum is worth the drive. Aside from its stunning gardens, The Huntington Library's art collection focuses on European art from the 15th to early 20th century, as well as American art from the late 17th to the mid-20th century. Come for the art and stay for the scenic gardens and a spot of tea in the Rose Garden Tea Room.
Currently on View: Orbit Pavilion
Must-See: "Breakfast in Bed" by Mary Cassatt (1897)
Visit: 1151 Oxford Road, San Marino, California, 91108
Annenberg Space for Photography
Permanent Collection: This unassuming art museum is located in Century City between towering office buildings; however, inside the Annenberg Space for Photography, you'll discover ground-breaking photographic works. Inside the small space, the exhibits are constantly changing, and you'll be sure to discover something new each time you walk inside.
Currently on View: Not and Ostrich: And Other Images from America's Library
Must-See: "Migrant Mother" by Dorothea Lange (1936)
Visit> 2000 Avenue of the Stars, Los Angeles, California, 90067
Los Angeles County Museum of Art
Permanent Collection: The Los Angeles County Museum of Art has been a staple of L.A. art culture since 1965. The permanent collection holds over 135,000 objects spanning 6000 years of history. Tour rooms filled with abstract expression art in one corridor and galleries that house unique antiquities in another.
Currently on View: 3D: Double Vision
Must-See: "Weeping Woman with Handkerchief" by Pablo Picasso (1937)
Visit: 5905 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, California, 90036
Head to one of these art museums in Los Angeles to discover the city in a whole new way.
Subscribe to our newsletter to discover more things to do in Los Angeles.