The amazing museums that Los Angeles has to offer are just one example of the many things to see and do in the city beyond the beach and the weather. Wonderful museums covering topics such as local history, space exploration, and film can be found in this city in California.
Despite Los Angeles’ reputation as a city where everything is new and shiny, the city’s finest institutions deserve special recognition. Museum-goers in this sunny Southern California city need not worry about being cooped up in dark, stuffy buildings; many institutions offer expansive outdoor areas in parks or on the mountainside.
The Hollywood Museum and the Grammy Museum pay tribute to the entertainment industry, while the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles and the Getty Center transport visitors to bygone eras where they can view priceless works of art and learn about the history of Hollywood. When you explore Los Angeles, be sure to stop by these top institutions and museums.
Planning a trip to LA? Don’t miss these Top 10 museums
While we understand that you’ll want to spend time at the beach and at nightclubs, we also want to remind you that Los Angeles is home to some of the world’s finest museums. If you’re planning a trip to L.A., we invite you to read this article with me to learn about the 10 best museums to visit in Los Angeles.
- Grammy Museum
- Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History
- Getty Center
- Los Angeles County Museum of Art
- Autry Museum of the American West
- Petersen Automotive Museum
- California Science Center
- The Broad Museum
- Academy Museum of Motion Pictures
- Griffith Observatory
The Grammy Museum is a four-story attraction in downtown Los Angeles that honors music in all its forms through displays and interactive encounters. This museum is one of Los Angeles’s top museums.
While the Grammy Awards recognize outstanding achievements in the recording business, the museum provides a more comprehensive exploration of music, from its historical roots to modern innovations in recording and production.
The 200-seat Clive Davis Theater also plays home to a wide variety of special exhibits, films, seminars, and live acts all year round. Check out the bronze disks honoring previous Grammy champions that are set in the walkways around L.A. Live before you go inside.
- Address: 800 W Olympic Blvd, LA, CA 90015, United States.
- Wednesday to Monday from 11 AM to 5 PM.
- Closed on Tuesdays.
Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History
The Dinosaur Hall at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles is the most well-known exhibit, but that’s not to say the museum doesn’t have plenty more to offer. Explore the museum’s Nature Gardens, Age of Mammals, Gem and Mineral Hall, and other displays to learn about the past of Earth over billions of years. The Otis Booth Pavilion is a 6-story glass cylinder that houses the enormous bones of a fin whale, immersing visitors in a whale experience.
Back in Dinosaur Hall, this display of dinosaur fossils, including three imposing T. rex bones, is likely to keep tourists there for some time. It would take a complete day to see everything the museum has to offer. This museum is, without a doubt, one of the best museums in all of Los Angeles.
- Address: 900 Exposition Blvd, LA, CA 90007, United States.
- Timings: every day from 9:30 AM to 5 PM.
The Getty Center or Villa in Los Angeles is an enormous, sprawling sanctuary for art, history, and environment which is one of L.A.’s top museums. The J. Paul Getty Museum, the Getty Conservation Institute, the Getty Research Institute, and nearly 90 acres of landscaped grounds are all part of the main compound atop the hill.
Getty Villa, located in the Pacific Palisades some ten miles distant, houses a collection of ancient Greek and Roman sculptures. All of the Getty’s structures and gardens are free to visit; the only costs are associated with parking.
Ancient artifacts, medieval statues, Baroque paintings from the 17th century, and hundreds of photos from the 19th to the 21st century are on display at the center, which is an exhibit of the vast and varied art collection of the late J. Paul Getty. There are free concerts on Friday evenings and interactive displays in the center’s Family Room, making it a wonderful place to take kids.
- Address: 1200 Getty Center Dr, LA, CA 90049, United States.
- Tuesday to Sunday from 10 AM to 5:30 PM.
- Closed on Mondays.
Los Angeles County Museum of Art
More than 120,000 works of art from around the world are on display across 5 structures at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). From ancient Asian and Latin American artifacts to cutting-edge modern artists, the museum’s collection encompasses the world and thousands of years. In addition, it houses a significant portion of the world’s Islamic art. The amazing exhibits and displays make this place one of Los Angeles’s best museums.
Hancock Park, where LACMA is located, lies between central Los Angeles and Santa Monica. The adjacent La Brea Tar Pits fossil excavation site and exhibit allow tourists to extend their day of visiting Los Angeles’s historical sites.
- Address: 5905 Wilshire Blvd, LA, CA 90036, United States.
- Thursdays and Tuesdays from 11 AM to 7 PM.
- Closed on Wednesdays.
Autry Museum of the American West
The Autry Museum of the American West, located in Griffith Park and called after the legendary “singing cowboy” Gene Autry, is home to more than 50,000 works of art and artifacts related to the American West.
The museum features a bar that looks like it was plucked straight from the Old West and a complete reproduction of a town square from a 1950s Western. This museum, with its interesting exhibits, shows an important part of American culture, and it is one of the greatest museums in Los Angeles.
Located at 234 Museum Drive on Mount Washington, the Southwest Museum of the American Indian is owned and operated by the organization that runs it. It houses a sizable assortment of Native American artwork and artifacts. Hundreds of American Indian artists and craftspeople showcase their wares every November at the American Indian Arts Marketplace.
- Address: Griffith Park, 4700 Western Heritage Way, Los Angeles, CA 90027, United States.
- Tuesdays to Fridays from 10 AM to 4 PM.
- Saturdays and Sundays from 10 AM to 5 PM.
- Closed on Mondays.
Petersen Automotive Museum
The Petersen Automotive Museum is a haven for car enthusiasts, housing hundreds of cars and displays dedicated to the automotive industry across three stories. The building’s exterior of curving steel bands reminds one of the skins of a streamlined and seductive hot rod car.
You’ll find classic cars, contemporary supercars, and even some cars that were once driven by a Hollywood star around the Los Angeles freeways and hills. Vehicles from movies like “Back to the Future” and “Blade Runner,” as well as high-performance Porsche racing cars and stylish Italian motorbikes from the freewheeling ’60s, are on display at this place which is one of Los Angeles’s top museums.
- Address: 6060 Wilshire Blvd, LA, CA 90036, United States.
- Timings: every day from 10 AM to 5 PM.
California Science Center
The California Science Center is located right next to the Natural History Museum and features hands-on displays for kids of all ages relating to science, biology, ecology, and space. There is an exploration area for younger children to explore, but the museum is best suited for children of school-going age. This museum is not just for children, as it is one of the finest museums in Los Angeles.
The enormous Endeavour space shuttle is kept in the science center’s Samuel Oschin Pavilion, making it the center’s obvious centerpiece. An accompanying exhibit describes the massive effort of transporting the last shuttle constructed for NASA’s Space Shuttle program from Cape Canaveral, Florida, to Los Angeles.
- Address: 700 Exposition Park Dr, LA, CA 90037, United States.
- Timings: every day from 10 AM to 5 PM.
The Broad Museum
Visit the Broad in downtown Los Angeles to see the newest in modern art by such luminaries as Jeff Koons, Jasper Johns, Cindy Sherman, Andy Warhol, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Barbara Kruger, and Roy Lichtenstein, among many others. This museum is surely one of the best museums in Los Angeles.
The structure of the Broad Museum is itself a piece of art. The museum, which debuted in 2015 and was designed by the same company responsible for the Museum of Modern Art and the High Line, “the veil and the vault,” is an innovative take on traditional museum design.
When not on exhibit, the artwork is kept in the vault; however, visitors can catch a glimpse of the works ready to be displayed through viewing windows located in the museum’s stairwells. The honeycomb-like construction that encloses the building forms the veil, which allows sunlight to enter the halls.
- Address: 221 S Grand Ave, LA, CA 90012, United States.
- Tuesdays to Sundays from 10 AM to 6 PM.
- Closed on Mondays.
Academy Museum of Motion Pictures
The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, LA’s newest museum, was decades in the making, but now it perfectly captures the reason many people travel to the city: to learn more about the past of the film business.
Located at the crossroad of Wilshire and Fairfax Boulevards, the museum is housed in two buildings: the historic May Company department store, which was renovated by architect Renzo Piano, and a brand-new, globe-shaped structure that houses a 1,000-seat cinema theater.
The centerpiece of the first structure is an installation called “Stories of Cinema,” which spans three floors and displays the work of filmmakers from all over the world, from the earliest films to the cutting-edge works of today. The Oscar statuettes, as well as the red slippers worn by Judy Garland in The Wizard of Oz, artifacts from Citizen Kane, the makeup and prosthetics used in Bombshell, and ensembles from a wide variety of classic films, are all on display here.
- Address: 6067 Wilshire Blvd, LA, CA 90036, United States.
- Sunday to Thursday from 10 AM to 6 PM.
- Friday and Saturday from 10 AM to 8 PM.
The Griffith Observatory is a popular attraction for a distinct kind of stargazer in Los Angeles. The telescope was established in the 1930s and is located in Griffith Park on the southern summit of Mount Hollywood. Everyone who comes can look through the telescope for free (though there is a small charge for performances at the Samuel Oschin Planetarium).
In the Leonard Nimoy Event Horizon theater, visitors can watch a short video about the Griffith Observatory’s past while taking in the stunning sky and cityscape views. If you get there during the day, you can walk around the park for free and check out the paths. This museum is one of the best museums in Los Angeles.
- Address: 2800 E Observatory Rd, Los Angeles, CA 90027, United States.
- Tuesday to Friday from 12 PM to 10 PM.
- Saturdays and Sundays from 10 AM to 10 PM.
- Closed on Mondays.