Celebrating its 50th anniversary on Wilshire Boulevard’s Miracle Mile in 2015, LACMA has grown Topsy-like, as if mirroring the city’s own crazy-quilt expansion. Its 120,000-piece permanent collection now spans seven structures on its 20-acre campus. (The museum made some headway in 2014 on future plans for the biggest overhaul yet; stay tuned.) It makes for a scattered and sometimes disorienting experience, but you’ll find help from staff at every turn. The global collection dates from the ancient world to the present, with its greatest strengths in Asian, Latin American, and Islamic art. Ranking among the nation’s best, it’s collection is replete with masterworks by the likes of Van Gogh, Rembrandt, Matisse, Degas, Monet, Picasso, O’Keefe, Hockney, and others. Contemporary and experimental art also are well-represented. Don’t even think about trying to see it all one day, or even two. Do some homework and set your goals.
Here’s a brief rundown: On the east side of the Grand Entrance, fronted by the Instagram-ready “Urban Light” installation, are The Pavilion for Japanese Art, which showed the quirky “Kimono for a Modern Age” in fall 2014; the Bing Center auditorium, theater and cafe; the Art of the Americas Building, whose recent shows include the work of Mexican cinematographer Gabriel Figueroa and art of the ancient Americas; the Hammer Building, containing the children’s gallery and ancient and Korean art; and the Ahmanson Building, housing the bulk of the permanent collections, most notably German Expressionism, Islamic art, and Indian and Southeast Asian art. To the west are the Broad Contemporary Art Museum (BCAM), showing the likes of Koons, Johns, Warhol, and Lichtenstein, plus the fascinating “Metropolis II” kinetic sculpture of an imagined future city; and the Resnick Pavilion for diverse special exhibitions. Free docent-led tours are offered daily; check the online calendar for details.
LACMA’s retro restaurant and outdoor lounge, Ray & Stark’s Bar in the Grand Entrance, offers specialty cocktails and a Mediterranean-inspired menu prepared on a wood-fired oven and grill. It joined L.A.’s cadre of destination restaurants soon after its 2011 debut.