One of my favorite things to do is spend an afternoon in an art museum sketching. Some people run through a museum glancing at the art and never really see anything. But drawing a picture gives you a chance to get to know a piece of art. Plus you get to take home a momento of your adventure.
museums of LA & Orange County
Los Angeles County Art Museum - My favorite California museum, this place is the motherlode. I especially enjoy the clothing exhibits that they have had over the years. If I could only go to one museum this would be it. The special exhibits have always been memorable, like the recent "Made in California" exhibit with one hundred years of California art and culture.
Huntington Library - Gardens without end, Pinky and Blue Boy, what more could you want? The Japanese gardens are serene, the cactus gardens are hysterical, wear your walking shoes.
The Norton Simon - This is what an art museum should look like. They have recently redone the surrounding gardens and they make for a very pleasant stroll. There are a lot of famous artists represented here and also an extensive Asian Art collection. Check out Rembrandt's painting of his son Titus.
And while you are in Pasadena don't forget to see the Gamble House.
MOCA - the LA museum of Contemporary Art - Art that makes you think.... if you like that kind of thing.
Petersen Automobile Museum - a great place to bring guys to with luscious cars, a interactive kids section and a place to plug in your electric car.
UCLA Hammer - This museum in Westwood always has something different going
on. My favorite special exhibit that they have had in recent years was one
on children's book illustration that had all the greats, Arthur Rackham, Maurice
Sendak, Doctor Suess, Kay Nielsen. It was incredible.
The J. Paul Getty - Not a place to take toddlers, let me tell you. The garden has sharp metal borders, you can drive a minivan through the railings and there is only one bathroom in the whole place and it doesn't have a changing table. BUT it is a beautiful space and the view of Santa Monica is lovely. Lots of wonderful art just get a baby-sitter. UPDATE 11/20/01 They have added bathrooms and changing tables. Benches and railings around the fountains have been put up as well to keep people from walking right into the fountains. The "family area" is still the size of a large closet but our little Warhol in training had a great time.
County Museum of Art - A great place to get married. Lots of cutting edge
stuff to be found here. They also have a good film series with many varied
The Bowers Museum - All the special exhibits I've seen here have been wonderful. They have really done a good job of getting a large variety of art from all over the world. The last thing that I saw there was an exhibit of Egyptian art from the British Museum in London.
Art museums of Europe
The Victoria and Albert - They have a whole room devoted to textiles with tables where you can sketch them... my idea of heaven.
The British Museum - Elgin Marbles and Mummies. The way the light streams in at closing time will take your breath away.
The Musée d'Orsay - Room after room of Impressionist painters. Everybody famous is there. They also have a roomful of Art Nouveau furniture that is exquisite. The building used to be a train station. It has the most beautiful of all art museum restaurants.
The National Museum of Finland - This fortress-like museum in Helsinki has cases of interesting woodcarvings and costumes. A great place to spend a day sketching.
The Glacier Garden in Lucerne is a weird and wonderful place if for nothing else than the Alhambra "Hall of Mirrors." The Transportation Museum is interesting as well.