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Art Lover’s Guide to LA

From the Getty Center to Los Angeles County Museum of Art, here's where to head.

Hi, I'm Mandy!

Mandy Hegarty is a writer who specializes in food and travel. Currently based in Dublin, Ireland, she’s previously lived in New York, London, and Montreal. She has written for the likes of Time Out New York, Air Canada, and Singapore Airlines.

California’s biggest metropolis is a hotbed of creativity. As well as its world-renowned film industry, Los Angeles harbors a thriving art scene. From fine art museums to Instagrammable installations to street murals, here’s what you can expect from the Los Angeles art scene, which caters to art fans of all stripes.

Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens

In the tranquil botanical gardens of LA.
In the tranquil gardens.Foto: Kit Leong / Shutterstock

The Huntington makes for one of LA’s loveliest days out. Wander through galleries hung with works by household-name European and American artists from Thomas Gainsborough to Andy Warhol. Afterward, take a stroll through the enchanting gardens.

The Getty Center

The green maze outside the Getty Center.
The maze at the Getty Center.Foto: BKingFoto / Shutterstock

Set high on a hill above the clamor of Downtown Los Angeles, this vast complex of Richard Meier–designed pavilions houses an art collection so extensive, it is the envy of many other museums. Among its holdings are decorative arts and paintings from European bigwigs ranging from Rembrandt and Titian to Monet and Van Gogh. It also has a first-rate photography collection that includes works by the likes of Julia Margaret Cameron, Walter Evans, and Robert Mapplethorpe.

Los Angeles County Museum of Art

The exterior of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
LACMA has a large installation of old LA streetlamps.Foto: Michael Gordon / Shutterstock

Sprawling across a 20-acre (8-hectare) Hollywood campus, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) has long been among the city’s top destinations for art appreciation. The museum is home to Chris Burden’s Urban Light, a large-scale installation made from hundreds of old LA streetlamps and a popular selfie backdrop. Nearby is the Renzo Piano–designed Broad Museum, whose contemporary collections focus on postwar works.

Museum of Contemporary Art

A bright exhibit at the Museum of Contemporary Art in LA.
Exhibits at the Museum of Contemporary Art.Foto: Michael Gordon / Shutterstock

Pieces from the 1940s onward are spotlighted at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), which is spread between two sites: MOCA Grand in Downtown LA and MOCA Geffen in Little Tokyo. Twentieth-century heavy hitters such as Rothko, Hockney, and de Kooning share space with lesser-known modern artists.

Graffiti Art Tours

Street art in the city of LA.
Street art in the city.Foto: Hayk_Shalunts / Shutterstock

It’s impossible to mention LA art without talking about the city’s graffiti and murals. LA’s street art scene—particularly that of the Arts District in Downtown LA—has exploded in recent decades, with both international and local artists making their mark on the city. On graffiti-focused walking tours, participants are schooled on the district’s street art legacy and shown some of its best-known works.

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