Pick Six: Best Los Angeles Museums Near APU

While living and being on campus is a wonderful facet of the college experience, branching out can mean discovering an adventure right in your own backyard. At APU, access to Los Angeles museums can shape your education and add context to classroom learning. William Catling, MFA, co-chair of the Department of Art and Design, summarized it this way: “The digital world is amazing, but standing in front of a Van Gogh is a completely different experience. Seeing the actual brush strokes and the size of the work creates a dialogue that cannot compare with the screens of our devices.” With world-class destinations close at hand, there’s no time like the present to get out and explore. Grab a carpool buddy or jump on the Metro Gold Line and head to these Los Angeles museums the first chance you get.

The Getty Center

Located in the hills above Brentwood, overlooking L.A., The Getty Center offers rotating art exhibits, an impressive permanent collection, compelling architecture, and a beautiful garden center with breathtaking views. A bonus is that admission is free; you only have to pay for parking. You can easily spend an entire day here, taking in the art, strolling in the gardens, and admiring the skyline. On Saturdays, the museum stays open later for an inviting nighttime experience.

California African American Museum

The California African American Museum (CAAM), founded in 1977, was the first museum dedicated to African American art, history, and culture that was fully supported by a state. It houses a permanent collection of 4,000 artifacts, along with other temporary exhibitions. The first contribution to the museum was a bronze bust of civil rights activist Mary McLeod Bethune created by Richmond Barthe, a prominent Harlem Renaissance sculptor. CAAM is packed with culturally and historically relevant work by underrepresented artists from the past and present.

Los Angeles County Museum of Art

Also known as LACMA, this is the largest art museum in the Western United States. Housing more than 135,000 objects and covering approximately 6,000 years of history, this Los Angeles museum is every art major’s dream. Also located outside the museum is the alluring cluster of vintage-style street lights—an illuminated installation called Urban Light—that you see plastered across Instagram. This is a great place for a weekend outing with roommates and friends, filled with a variety of places to take photos while appreciating the artists who crafted each incredible piece of artwork.

Norton Simon Museum

Located in the heart of Pasadena on Colorado Boulevard, the Norton Simon Museum houses a collection of artwork amassed by one man, Norton Simon. Outdoor sculpture gardens offer a tranquil setting for reflection. Indoors, you’ll find masterworks by such recognizable names as Rembrandt, Degas, and Picasso. Simon was an entrepreneur, philanthropist, industrialist, and voracious art collector, and the museum reflects his compelling belief in art as one of the most powerful forms of communication.

The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens

This attraction is a triple threat: library, art museum, and botanical gardens all in one. Each year, more than 750,000 people visit The Huntington Library. The library holds one of 12 original copies of the Gutenburg Bible, which changed the way we view the printed word forever. Museum holdings include thousands of art pieces from Europe and the Americas. If that weren’t enough, the botanical gardens are some of the finest around. There are a multitude of themed regions to explore, including a Japanese garden with tea house, a desert landscape, and a Shakespearean garden. This is the perfect place to spend a leisurely Sunday afternoon.

California Science Center

Near CAAM in Exposition Park, the California Science Center hosts four permanent exhibits that allow the science geek in you to explore Earth’s ecosystems, the creative world, the world of life, and air and space discoveries. Admission into the science center and its regular exhibits is free, though special exhibits and the IMAX theater have a cost. Educational and highly interactive, one of the best aspects of this off-campus adventure is viewing the Space Shuttle Endeavor up close.

Art and culture are vital to the human experience, and in greater Los Angeles, there’s no shortage of opportunities to engage with both. Through these experiences, students gain a new understanding of their studies and the world around them. And, Catling noted, creative pursuits are rooted in faith. “‘In the beginning, God created,’ he said. “Five words that provide us with clarity on the nature of God and the importance of how we might view the world. Creativity is at the core of God’s character and in His image, so it should be in ours as well.”