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Best Los Angeles Museums

The Top 10 Museums in Los Angeles

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Los Angeles has so many museums that it's hard to figure out where to start. Here are my personal choices for LA's best museums. If you want to delve deeper into LA's vast collection of museums, start with my LA Museums Overview.

1. The Getty Center

Getty Center
Photo © 2012 Kayte Deioma, licensed to About.com

Los Angeles is blessed with an abundance of outstanding art museums, but if you only have time for one, the Getty Center combines an outstanding collection of classic and modern art and photography with stunning architecture and one of the best views in town. It's also one of the top free things to do in LA, although there's a fee to park.

Getty Center Visitors Guide

2. Getty Villa

Outer Peristyle with statue
Photo © 2006 Kayte Deioma, courtesy of www.KayteDeioma.com

This stunning hill-top villa houses the J. Paul Getty Museum's antiquities collection. They also have hands-on activities for kids and a variety of public programs and performances. Like the Getty Center, the museum is free, but there's a fee to park.

Getty Villa Visitors Guide
Getty Villa Photos

3. Los Angeles County Museum of Art

LACMA Egyptian Exhibit
Photo © 2007 Kayte Deioma, used with permission

The Los Angeles County Museum of Art is considered the largest encyclopedic art museum in the western United States. Its collections encompass the history of art from ancient times to the present, and from all corners of the world.

LACMA Visitors Guide

4. California Science Center

The giant echo tube in the Science Court at the California Science Center, Los Angeles, CA
Photo © 2009 Kayte Deioma, used with permission

The California Science Center in Exposition Park makes learning about science fun for the whole family. This is a great museum for families with kids a variety of ages from pre-school to teens. Grown-up kids will find it entertaining and enlightening as well.

California Science Center Visitors Guide
Exposition Park Visitors Guide

5. Natural History Museum of LA County

Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County
Photo © 2010 Kayte Deioma, used with permission

Who can resist massive dinosaurs, animated birds, gems and minerals, bugs and a Discovery Center where kids can get their hands on all kinds of furs and fossils? A museum expansion doubled the exhibit area, adding live animal exhibits, extensive garden habitats and an exhibit on the evolution of Los Angeles.

Natural History Museum Visitors Guide
Exposition Park Visitors Guide

6. Autry National Center

Autry National Center
© 2005 Kayte Deioma, courtesy of www.KayteDeioma.com

Although Gene Autry and his fellow TV cowboys are recognized at the Autry Museum, this museum is dedicated to the real story of the American West, not just the TV version. The Autry National Center in Griffith Park has been moving the collection of the Southwest Museum of the American Indian to the same location so the full story of the American West will be in one place.

More on the Autry National Center

7. Page Museum at the La Brea Tar Pits

Page Museum at the La Brea Tar Pits
Photo © 2009 Kayte Deioma, used with permission

The La Brea Tar Pits in Los Angeles is one of the world's greatest sources of Ice Age fossils and many of them are on display in the on-site George C. Page Museum. You can also view scientists at work in the excavation pits and in the museum's "fish bowl" lab.

Page Museum Visitors Guide

8. Hollywood Museum in the Max Factor Building

Hollywood Museum in the Max Factor Building
© 2004 Kayte Deioma, courtesy of www.KayteDeioma.com

This being Hollywood and all, there are plenty of museums and exhibits interpreting the history and culture of various facets of the entertainment industry from the tiny Hollywood Heritage Museum to the glitzy Grammy Museum, but the Hollywood Museum in the historic Max Factor Building is the richest glimpse into Hollywood movie history, from its restored hair-color-themed makeup rooms to the collection of movie sets and memorabilia, including an extensive Marilyn Monroe exhibit.

More on the Hollywood Museum

9. Griffith Observatory

Griffith Observatory at Griffith Park in Los Angeles
Photo © 2007 Kayte Deioma, used with permission

The Griffith Observatory in Griffith Park contains exhibits on planets, stars and the exploration of space via multiple super-powered telescopes for day and night viewing. There's also a planetarium show and super views of the Downtown LA skyline.

Griffith Observatory Visitors Guide

Griffith Observatory Photos

10. Museum of Tolerance

From Holocaust history to ongoing injustices in the world and in our daily lives, the Museum of Tolerance exposes things that may be hard to look at but help us live more informed and sensitive lives.

More on the Museum of Tolerance

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