Visitors who crave culture usually flock to a couple of big names in Los Angeles, including LACMA, MOCA, the Getty Museum and more recently, the Broad. But there are alternatives, both big and small, that help tourists and locals alike delve deeper into LA’s vivid and diverse history. Here are a handful of some of The Culture Trip’s favorite alternative museums operating in LA County.
The Culture Trip covered A+D in the past as one of the best places in the States for architecture and design, but it’s relocated in recent years to a dedicated building in downtown LA. Many of this museum’s exhibitions pair with local firms, studios, speakers and schools to answer past and present challenges of architecture and urban planning in LA’s quickly evolving landscape. The museum also offers a fantastic Urban Hikes program, taking visitors on foot to the hidden architectural and cultural gems of the city’s widely disparate neighborhoods.
While perhaps not having the widespread repute of major art museums, CAFAM boasts a history of outstanding exhibits and roster of guest curators to rival the best of its LA rivals. With the aim of altering how visitors think of ‘craft,’ CAFAM’s has showcased elaborate paper cut sculptures, experimental shoe design, and the work of modern male quilters. Added bonus: CAFAM’s gift shop is one of the funkier in the museum circuit.
Reopening in December 2015, this museum’s newly revamped façade houses one of the largest automobile collections in the world. The expansive collection includes hundreds of vintage and limited-release models, as well as famous cars from films like Herbie: Fully Loaded and Thelma & Louise. In the past, younger automotive aficionados could learn about the science behind modern vehicles in the Discovery Center, while the museum’s Streetscape exhibit used scale models of Southern California city streets and storefronts to contextualize LA car culture throughout history.
Located in Griffith Park as part of the Los Angeles Live Steamers Railroad Museum, this small museum functions as homage to both an animation great and his lesser-known fascination with trains. In the 1950s, Walt Disney operated his own miniature railroad out of this backyard barn on Carolwood Road, only a few years before undertaking the construction of Disneyland. The barn houses Disney memorabilia largely centered on his love of railroads, as well as items gifted from his animators. This place is often portrayed as the ‘birthplace of Imagineering’ and a predecessor to the Disney theme parks, and at the very least is an interesting tribute to the man behind the Mouse. Open every third Sunday from 11am-3pm.
Walt Disney’s Barn, 5202 Zoo Drive, Los Angeles, CA, USA, +1 310 213 0722
By Mayura Jain