From the progressive Arts District to the mountaintop Getty Center, LA’s art scene is hotter than Hollywood.
Los Angeles is rich with creative excellence. Its nearness to the Pacific Ocean inspires free-spirited minds, while its mansion-covered hills encourage big dreams. Artists from all walks of life are drawn to this legendary city, making its culture all the more dynamic.
Institutions old and new
LA has no shortage of contemporary art museums—and with two new additions over the past decade, its collection continues to attract visitors from around the world. Most recently, the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures (6067 Wilshire Boulevard) opened on Museum Row, showcasing the history, science, and art of filmmaking. Before that, it was The Broad (221 South Grand Avenue) that made headlines with its honeycomb-like facade and fantastical mirror rooms by Yayoi Kusama
Welcoming these two newcomers to the area is the mighty Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA; 5905 Wilshire Boulevard), where visitors can take photos of Chris Burden’s permanent outdoor exhibit Urban Light and marvel at the works of Diego Rivera and Pablo Picasso, among others. The UCLA-managed Hammer Museum (10899 Wilshire Boulevard) is a must-visit for its bold and provocative exhibits.
Downtown LA’s dynamic Arts District
Starting in the ’70s as a gritty expanse of former warehouses and factories, the Arts District has blossomed into a street-art and gallery hub. Located near Little Tokyo and the LA River, it’s a rich cultural center that sees most of its action by Third and Traction avenues.
Take time to wander past the industrial buildings splashed with vibrant colors—you might even see a mural in the making. These temporary artworks were once banned from the city, but their undeniable beauty helped lift the ban in 2013.
As for the galleries, Art Share L.A. (801 East Fourth Place) is a sight to behold. One of the city’s finest places to discover cutting-edge work, it also provides housing, studios, and classrooms for up-and-coming artists. Hauser & Wirth’s LA outpost (901 East Third Street), on the other hand, is your go-to for exhibitions of contemporary masters. For a bit of neon-drenched innovation, check out Lili Lakich Studio (704 Traction Avenue), but be sure to call ahead to secure a spot.
It’s a Getty affair
If any name turns heads in LA’s art scene, it’s Getty. Known mostly as a supplier of stock and editorial images, Getty also represents the height of prestigious art collections.
J. Paul Getty, an oil tycoon and art lover, established the Getty Villa (17985 Pacific Coast Highway, Pacific Palisades) in 1974. The luxurious villa—modeled after Villa dei Papiri—houses Getty’s oldest treasures, including Greek, Roman, and Etruscan antiquities.
And seated high up in the Santa Monica Mountains—about a 13-mile drive from the villa—is the Getty Center (1200 Getty Center Drive). Spread across six buildings, the expansive collection features works from Van Gogh, Rembrandt, Cézanne, and many others. But don’t limit yourself to the indoors; outside, you’ll find four stunning gardens, including a lovely sculpture garden and the sweeping Central Garden created by California artist Robert Irwin.