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Los Angeles has some of the country's best museums. The Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) and the Getty Museums (Two locations: the Getty Center in the Brentwood section of Los Angeles and the Getty Villa in the adjacent city of Malibu) are unique in their own ways.
The Gettys have vast and impressive collections of sculpture and art but the most stunning piece of art are the Getty properties themselves. Spend the day -- buy a bottle of wine and a cheese plate -- and enjoy the view from one of their many outdoor leisure spots. Getty info is available at www.getty.edu/visit
Going to MOCA is a great excuse to go to dinner downtown! Take in MOCA's offerings and head to Patina for a wonderful meal.... Stop in and see the Disney Concert Hall while you are there. Amazing! Actually, MOCA has 3 locations: On Grand Avenue in downtown Los Angeles adjacent to the L.A. Music Center performance halls, on Central Ave in the "Little Tokyo" section of downtown L,A. (this property is known as the Geffen Contemporary) and at the Pacific Design Center in the city of West Hollywood. Info about these museums can be found at www.moca.org.
LACMA (www.lacma.org) inhabits a number of buildings on Wilshire Boulevard on the eastern edge of L.A.'s Miracle Mile. With over 100,000 pieces of art, LACMA is the largest encyclopedic museum west of Chicago. The museum offers a vast array of Special Exhibitions as well as programs in art, music and film. The Pavillion for Japanese Art is a separate building on the Museum's grounds. Works from the Edo period -- ranging from finely painted works of the Rimpa, ukiyo-e, or Maruyama-Shijo schools to spontaneous expressions by Zen monks -- form the core of the museum's Japanese painting collection. Adjacent to LACMA is the Page Museum and the La Brea Tar Pits. LACMA info is available at www.lacma.org. Info about the Page Museum and the La Brea Tar Pits is available at www.tarpits.org .
Perhaps, one of the best-kept secrets in L.A. is the Hammer Museum (hammer.ucla.edu/) in the Westwood neighborhood of Los Angeles. This museum features the small but impressive collection of the flamboyant business tycoon, Armand Hammer but also features 3 temporary galleries that promote burgeoning or controversial artists of the present. Westwood is easily accessible by car or public transit. There is parking provided at the museum at a modest charge allowing visitors to enjoy the museum and explore the Westwood neighborhood of shops, restaurants and bars without moving their car.
In the city of Pasadena (north of downtown Los Angeles), the Norton Simon Museum has a nice collection of Impressionist Art and outstanding sculptings, especially by Rodin, Maillol,and Degas. They also have a fine collection of Italian Renaissance paintings (Raphael, Martini, B.Daddi), Dutch Master paintings (Rembrandt, Frans Hals), and French realistic paintings (Corot, Courbet, Millet).
The Huntington Library and Museum has superb botanical gardens and a number of collections of note. The Library has a collection of rare books and manuscripts in the fields of British and American history and literature. Of particular note, a manuscript of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales and a Gutenberg Bible on vellum. The Museum is scattered amongst a number of buildings on the massive estate including collections of 18th- and 19th-century British and French art (Gainsborough’s Blue Boy is amongst these as well as British Portraiture (works by Gainesborough, Reynolds, and Romney). The Museum's collecgtion also includes American Art from the 1690s to the 1950s such as Mary Cassatt’s Breakfast in Bed.