Your guide to museums around Los Angeles

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Your guide to museums around Los Angeles

Himerria Wortham

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Museums may still have a bad rap for many college students who remember the days their parents dragged them to that “boring place” with “old things.” Luckily, we are all adults now and have the capability of appreciating a quiet place to learn without the pressure of a test. Whether alone or as a first-date option, there is a museum for everyone.

LACMA: the one-stop shop

5905 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90036

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Children play among “Urban Light”, an installation of vintage street lights at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. (Photo courtesy of MCT)

The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) is a one-stop shop for art lovers. As the largest art museum in the western United States, LACMA contains over 100,000 pieces ranging from ancient to contemporary art, according to the museum’s website. This venue of seven architecturally diverse buildings is renown for housing artists’ work from around the world with a particular strength in Japanese, Latin and Islamic art.

“Urban Light,” one of the museum’s outdoor installations, attract tourists as well as locals with its 202 orderly arranged antique street lights from Los Angeles and its surrounding cities. At night, this center of illumination turns into a haven for photography pros and casual Instagramers alike.

LACMA’s range of diverse exhibits allow returning audiences a chance to discover something new with every visit. The museum also offers special film screenings, music concerts and educational programs in art for all ages adding a touch of entertainment and self-exploration to the mix.

The program “LACMA9: Art +Film Lab,” for example, is a mobile lab that offers a five week filmmaking workshops in communities of the Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties. Adults are given tools to create artwork, in collaboration with artist Nicole Miller, that will be exhibited at LACMA.

The Paley Center for Media: for the media buff

465 N Beverly Dr, Beverly Hills, CA 90210

The internet is a great place to find an array of TV shows, especially because of its relatively easy access. However, media connoisseurs might need a little more to satisfy their hunger for programs from the 60s than a quick video clip on YouTube.

The Paley Center for Media, with locations in both Los Angeles and New York, is known as one of the leaders in the public archiving of media, offering a comprehensive collection of more than 100 years of TV and radio. It is unlike a traditional museum, presenting the majority of its content via video clips. This may be a selling point to most visual learners of our TV and YouTube generation.

With a database of over 140,000 programs ranging from news, sports, commercials, sitcoms, variety shows and arts programming, this center offers TV media history for nostalgics and academics alike.

The center does not halt at the sole presentation of media, as in the exhibit “This Happened Today,” a collection of special dates in history such as the finale of the TV show “Roots” on January 30, 1977.

The museum also creates events where experts, such as journalists, industry professionals and thought leaders are regularly invited to speak about their perspectives on entertainment and the role media has and has had on society.

The Center engages its audience with regular panels that feature the makers and cast of popular current television show such as “Parks and Recreation.”

“The Paley Conversations appeal to a younger audience because it gives students the chance to hear about the making of shows from the creators and cast,” said Rene Reyes, director of public programs and festivals.

These panels are the institution’s way of honoring the show. In turn, the actors, writers and producers are usually more relaxed in answering questions in this celebratory and intimate environment, Reyes said.

Beatles fans should check out the upcoming two-day event on February 8 and 9. Visitors will get a chance to watch the entire Ed Sullivan Show with commercials and experience what it may have felt like seeing the iconic group make their debut on television.

California Science Center: for the inner kid

700 Exposition Park Dr, Los Angeles, CA 90037

Shuttle Endeavour on Display

The retired space shuttle The Endeavor, on display in its new permanent home, the California Science Center. (Photo courtesy of MCT)

Science can be fun, at least when you don’t have to study the molecular ecology of a single-cell organism for a midterm exam. Try learning in a pressure-free environment at the California Science Center, known for its interesting approach to presenting science and engaging with the public.

Permanent exhibits such as “World of Life,” “Ecosystem” and “Creative World” are free to the public year-round and offer insight on a variety of scientific fields. The in-house IMAX theater might be more interesting to those who like to kick back and watch a flick. This seven-story high movie screen with state of the art cinematic technology is the largest IMAX screen in Los Angeles. The theater offers visitors the opportunity to explore new worlds in high definition, such as the current showing of “Flight of the Butterflies.”

The Space Shuttle Endeavor is the most recent addition to the permanent exhibits, giving visitors a live and up close view of the Endeavor. Endeavor: The California Story, an accompanying exhibit, gives background information on the Endeavor’s historical accomplishments in space history, its technological functionalities and its relation to California history.

Destination Station is an exhibit that was added to the roster on Jan. 24. The exhibit gives visitors hands-on, audio and visual insight of life aboard the largest space station ever constructed, the International Space Station (ISS). On the ISS, an orbiting research lab, astronauts from 15 countries conduct research on human health, life and physical science and earth and space science.

“Destination Station is an outreach effort by NASA to share, educate and inspire the public about the International Space Station,” said Paula Wagner, associate director of communication for the California Science Center. “This is the result of a peaceful international partnership of five space agencies representing 15 countries.”

The Nethercutter Collection: for the gear head

15200 Bledsoe St, San Fernando Valley, 91342

The Los Angeles Auto Show is a great place to discover the latest cars that will innovate auto history of tomorrow. But how did we get to today’s automotive technology and design? The Nethercutter Collection, with its 250-plus automobiles dating back to 1898, answers that exact question.

Guests of the Nethercutter Collection museum are guided through recreated grand salons of the 1920s and 1930s, as they discover an assortment of carefully restored antique cars. Some of the earliest Renault, Maybach, Cadillac and many other European and American models are presented in the two facilities of the museum. The display shows the dramatic changes in the technology of automobiles from the early days of the 1900s through 1950s and 60s.

“People can follow the evolution of the automobile from its design to its radiator technology,” said curator Skip Marketti.

Everything about the modern automobile started somewhere and this museum will give visitors an overview of the evolution.

The museum also exhibits a steam locomotive, a collection of fine porcelain dolls, vintage mechanical musical instruments and radiator hood ornaments, among other things.

The Violino is one of the museum’s many prized mechanical musical instruments. The machine plays three violins and a piano at the same time, directed by a perforated paper roll that is by the instrument like a sheet of music notes.

FIDM Museum and Galleries: for the fashionista

919 South Grand Avenue, Suite 250, Los Angeles, California, 90015

If Yves Saint Laurent and Gianni Versace get you going, then the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising (FIDM) Museum and Galleries may be the right place for you.

Initially started as a collection for students studying at the FIDM, this museum is now free and open to the public. It is home to over 15,000 historical items spanning 200 years of fashion, while creating a seamless overview of fashion highlights and tastemakers.

The museum collection includes women’s, men’s and children’s fashion as well as accessories and fragrance packaging. Over 80 percent of the collection is women’s fashion due to the wide accessibility of women’s garments, said museum curator Kevin Jones.

The men’s collection is much smaller, but the museum is in the process of expanding it. For those interested in world fashion, the museum offers a non-western collection of garments as well.

This museum can even be an exciting destination for movie buffs, as it is located in the film capital of the world and exhibits original costumes from some of Hollywood’s famous films.

With awards season approaching, the museum will be opening its 22nd annual Art of Motion Pictures Costume Design exhibition on Feb. 11. The show will most notably feature pieces from the movie “Anna Karenina,” last year’s Oscar winner for best costume design.