The 9 Best Free Museums in Los Angeles
It’s no secret that Los Angeles can get a bit pricey. However, if you have an art and culture itch get your fix at one of the many free museums in the city. From history to art to science, L.A. has quite a collection of museums. Visitors and Angelenos alike can rejoice and ruminate in these cultural spaces for the great price of free. So save your precious pennies and check out our roundup of the best free museums in Los Angeles. (Psst: Unless otherwise noted, all museums listed are free every day they are open.)
1. The Getty
The only museum mentioned in this list that has its own ride is the Getty. OK, maybe it’s not so much a ride as a tram that takes you to its location in the Santa Monica Mountains above the 405. It’s still pretty cool. The museum’s changing and permanent exhibitions draw on their robust collection of paintings, sculptures, decorative arts, drawings, manuscripts, and photographs from Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Americas. Pieces date back to medieval times to the present. In addition to the art inside, the gardens and grounds are gorgeous and masterpieces themselves.
1200 Getty Center Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90049; getty.edu
2. Getty Villa
From the creators of The Getty, we have the Getty Villas. Located in beautiful Malibu, the Villas house roughly 44,000 Greek, Roman and Etruscan antiquities dating from 6,500 BC to 400 AD with more than 1,200 on display at any given time. If for some reason you don’t admire the art, you are sure to love the museum’s architecture. Inspired by a first-century Roman country house, the Villa has beautiful mosaic floors and trompe l’oeil which are surrounded by gardens and grounds with plants known from the ancient Mediterranean.
17985 Pacific Coast Highway, Pacific Palisades, CA 90272; getty.edu
Advance timed tickets are required and can be obtained at getty.edu or at (310) 440-7300.
3. The Broad
You may know of The Broad from your Instagram feed, however, it is so much more than Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirrored Room. The museum features work from some of the most influential artists from the 1950s to today. See inspiring works from renowned artists like Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Cindy Sherman, Kara Walker and Jean-Michel Basquiat.
221 S Grand Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90012; thebroad.org
Advanced reservations online recommended
4. California Science Center
Kids and kids at heart alike can let their minds run wild at the California Science Center. This educational-without-feeling-too-educational museum includes over 150 interactive exhibits including some with live animals! Learn about different biomes, space and all the stuff you should’ve learned in science class but didn’t. Star chasers will love to see Space Shuttle Endeavor up close and learn the science behind it.
700 Exposition Park Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90037; californiasciencecenter.org
Admission to permanent galleries is free
5. Hammer Museum
Walking through The Hammer sort of feels like you’re getting one over someone. Because how could somewhere so cool be free? You can expect to see dynamic photography, art and installations by artists who challenge you to see the world differently and inspire change. Through their work, the exhibiting artists believe art is more than aesthetics and have the ability to offer insight in current cultural, political and social questions.
10899 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90024; hammer.ucla.edu
6. California African American Museum
Located in Exposition Park, the California African American Museum explores the African American experiences, history and culture in California and the American West. Their collection contains objects that include landscape painting and portraiture, modern and contemporary art, historical objects and print materials, and mixed-media artworks. Past exhibitions have dived into topics like fashion, hip hop and the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin during Nazi rule in which Black American athletes won 14 medals.
600 State Drive, Exposition Park, Los Angeles, CA 90037; caamuseum.org
7. Autry Museum of the American West
If you’re guessing that this museum is all about cowboys and Western films, you would be wrong. While it does touch on those topics, exhibitions on display explore all the diverse stories of the American West through historic and contemporary objects. Located in Griffith Park, the museum also has free parking.
4700 Western Heritage Way, Los Angeles, CA 90027; theautry.org
Free admission every second Tuesday of the month.
8. Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County
You could easily spend an entire day at the Natural History Museum. They have dinosaur skeletons (including the world's only Tyrannosaurus rex growth series), dioramas with animals from around the world, a spectacular collection of gems and minerals, and we can keep going but we’ll run out of room. You can stroll through their Nature Gardens, and learn more about plants and animals in their Nature Lab.
900 Exposition Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90007; nhm.org
L.A. County residents receive free Museum Admission 3-5 pm daily.
9. The Wende Museum of the Cold War
Justinian Jampol took his curiosity of the Cold War and academic background in European history to found the Wende. The title of the museum comes from the German word “Wende” which means “transformation,” and is commonly used to describe the era leading up to and following the fall of the Berlin Wall. On display, you can find visual and material culture from Cold War-era Soviet Union and the former Eastern Bloc. Expect to see vandalized busts of Lenin, propaganda posters, installations with everyday objects from the era set to look frozen in time and more that will give a different perspective to the time period.
10808 Culver Boulevard, Culver City, CA. 90230; wendemuseum.org
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