The Los Angeles County Museum of Art is one of the most iconic Museums in Los Angeles. Its location is central and accessible, the permanent collections are amazing, and its film and concert series are unparalleled. In a city that feels somewhat disconnected, this museum seems to be successful in drawing in the mass public with their feature exhibitions. It’s a museum that truly pays attention to its local audience. The art and the atmosphere is vibrant, and the crowd is like a microcosm of the many personalities of the city of LA.
The Museum offers a unique free youth membership program called NexGen, which anyone under the age of 17 and their adult guest can take advantage of. It’s a great opportunity for families to enjoy free Museum membership for family visits with the kids. The best section to visit for families with young kids is the Broad Contemporary Art Museum (BCAM) building, which houses much of the Contemporary Art at the LACMA. The massive elevator at the front lobby is a sight to behold. The clear glass front façade and overwhelming yet soft interior lighting makes for a truly surreal experience for the rider. The ongoing exhibits in this building will not disappoint the young ones, such as Richard Serra’s Band and Chris Burden’s Metropolis II. Sierra’s massive sculpture is heavy, serene, and numbing. It is an interactive piece that welcomes the viewer to walk around, in and through, which is perfect for kids. In contrast, Burden’s moving sculpture/installation is an elaborate construction of a city with miniature cars and trains moving in every which way in fast speed. The vehicles run for an hour every 2 hours or so and the sights and sounds are absolutely mesmerizing. My son in particular loves to watch from all the different angles and notice new details, shouting over the loud noise of toy cars whizzing down the roadways in excitement to share the new discoveries. One of the most popular current exhibitions, Random International’s Rain Room, has been a real hit amongst every age group as proven by long wait times and lines. However, lesser popularized exhibitions, such as Noah Purifoy’s Junk Dada which ended in January, are just as intriguing to even the youngest viewer as long as the adult engages them in the appreciation of the pieces in a way they can relate.
The Boone Children’s Gallery is such a treasure, and one of the best ongoing children’s programs in Museums. It is an art room nestled inside the Hammer building. It features traditional Asian brush painting stations, and open tables welcoming children of any age to make as many pieces as they are interested in making. My daughter, being the artist she is, loved creating different pieces using the brushes, crayons, and markers. I have a series of pieces they both have created from our trips framed and hung in our home.
Adjacent, in the Korean gallery, LACMA offers Story Time a couple of times a week in the early afternoons geared toward younger kids. The Museum also runs a formal art class series and various camps throughout the year from “Meet the Shapes” for toddlers, “Art in Nature” for older kids, to “Costumed Figure Drawing” for adults. The weekly family event, Andell Family Sundays, is truly worth checking out. It is an artist led workshop that gives an opportunity for families to learn about and respond to a particular collection. It’s a complete immersive experience that ends with participants creating their own inspired artwork. The LAMCA also partners with the Los Angeles Unified School District to offer regular after school programs, collaborate with educators for specialized class tours and offer competitive teen internships. The museum is absolutely focused on art education for the public, especially for the youth. This is what makes this museum such a jewel of the city, its inclusivity and remarkable outreach.
There is definitely no lack of great food or drinks within close distance. Coffee+Milk offers Intelligentsia Coffee, and treats of all sorts as the perfect pick me up for your outing. It’s conveniently located just outside the Boone Children’s Gallery. The LACMA Café is a favorite amongst families for its casual outdoor seating and extensive kids’ menu, including a build-you-own-lunchbox for just $7. It’s also a perfect location to catch an outdoor Live Jazz performance (always sponsored by the world famous KJAZZ) on summer months at dusk. Thank you for what you do for families and the city of LA, LACMA!