L.A.’s Best Art Museums to Visit with the Kids

While spring may mean blooming tulips, just-hatched baby birds and planting in the garden, it also means the new season of art has arrived. Whether you want to check out a large museum or local gallery there are more than enough exhibits to inspire your littles and yourself. Check out our hit list of must-see art this season, cause you can never overdose on culture.

Videos From Tinybeans

photo: Marciano Art Foundation

Marciano Art Foundation
If you haven’t been to the Marciano Art Foundation for a visit now is the time to go. This incredible space was formerly the home to the Scottish Rite Masonic Temple in Mid-City. Created by Maurice and Paul Marciano, brothers and Guess? co-founders, the gallery features the family collection, commissioned work, and site-specific pieces like Olafur Eliasson’s “Reality Projector.”

Elasson uses projected light and the existing architecture of the Marciano’s Theater Gallery, free of objects, to create shadow play that will have the family mesmerized. Go ahead, take a seat on the floor and soak in the colors and the full experience. The show runs through Aug. 26. 

The museum also features German painters Albert Oehlen and Peppi Bottrop’s “Line Packers,” which are a series of the artists’ paintings hung in dialogue to one another. Bottrop’s charcoal paintings, which are a nod to the coal industry that once powered the world, are hung alongside Oehlen’s “Computer Paintings” that make use of lines created by 20th century Texas Instrument computers. These black and white images are reminiscent of architecture and map-scapes. 

Let your littles follow the lines and imagine a world outside of them. And if the Marciano wasn’t great enough, it’s also free! Click this link to reserve your time slot. The show runs through Jun. 

Marciano Art Foundation
4357 Wilshire Blvd.
Online: marcianoartfoundation.org

photo: Hauser & Wirth Los Angeles

Hauser & Wirth Los Angeles
If you haven’t spent much time in the Downtown Arts District, well, now’s the time. Not only are there lots of galleries, murals, and people watching, there’s great food to boot. One way to get your newbie feet wet is at Hauser & Wirth Los Angeles. Hauser & Wirth is a renowned publisher of art books with locations in Zurich, New York and Hong Kong, London, Somerset, and Gstaad.

The L.A. location is a 100,000 square feet former flour mill that has been transformed into a beautiful gallery. This season features three exciting exhibitions run through May 20: “Geta Bratescu: The Leaps of Aesop,” “Mark Bradford: New Works” and “Louise Bourgeois: The Red Sky.” Each of these unique collections will transport the family into a world all their own.

The “Red Sky” features printmaking work all in the color of red that brings up emotion while also creating a surreal quality that could really inspire your little art aficionados. The “Leaps of Aesop” are works of 92-year-old Bratescu who is a pioneer in Romanian conceptualism and includes drawing, collage, textiles and experimental film that awaken senses and question reality. Bradford’s layered collages, created from recycled material, are an incredible sight that could open up the family to all the beautiful and infinite ways to create art.

While you’re there you can also have a meal at the gallery’s in-house restaurant, Manuela that specializes in fresh, local cuisine with a southern charm. Hauser & Wirth also hosts great family activities including open family studio and family garden workshops. No matter how strong your art interest is, there is a little something for everyone here.

Hauser & Wirth
901 E. 3rd St
Online: hauserwirthlosangeles.com

photo: J. Paul Getty Museum

The J. Paul Getty Museum
The Getty Center is just one of those places you have to get to at least once a season if you can. The stunning hilltop views and the tram ride that gets you there are almost enough but the world of art and culture that awaits you solidifies the experience.

Currently presenting “Rembrandt and the Inspiration of India,” this exhibition displays the way Rembrandt, a Dutch artist, was influenced by artist serving in the Mughal Court in India. Rembrandt’s work is displayed alongside the Mughal artists and you can talk to your littles about the similarities, the differences and the ways cultures have and continue to influence each other throughout the centuries.

If you have a little archaeologist on your hands be sure to check out the exhibition “Beyond the Nile” where you can explore the art of Ancient Egypt, Rome and Greece and the ways each culture influenced the other. The exhibit runs through Jun. 24.

And of course, no visit is complete without a stop by the Family Room where the kids can get out their wiggles and draw, build, read and explore freely.

The Getty Center is always free but it cost $15 to park ($10 after 3 p.m.). And if you have the stamina, parking at the Getty Center also gets you into the Getty Villa (or vice versa) on the same day.

The Getty Center
1200 Getty Center Dr.
Online: getty.edu/visit/center

photo: Museum of Contemporary Art

MOCA Grand Avenue
Get the family downtown and over to MOCA Grand Avenue. You can even make it an adventure and ride the Angels Flight up to the museum. Most importantly, there is still time to check out Lauren Halsey: “we still here, there” where Halsey has created a fantasy-like system of caves that visitors are welcome to walk through and explore. Halsey is changing the environment regularly during her residency so you may even want to visit more than once to witness the evolution.

If you visit on a Thurs. you can also check out a real-time preservation in progress of Jackson Pollock’s “Number 1, 1949.” Conservator Chris Stavroudis works in an open studio on select Thursdays to clean the surface of the painting and to reveal brighter whites and metallics. It’s an awe-inspiring experience and we can’t recommend it enough.

Finally, while you’re there visit “Real Worlds: Brassaï, Arbus, Goldin,” which hosts the works of three of the most renowned contemporary photographers. There are hundreds of photos that provide keen perspective and capture moments in real time. Some images may be challenging for the younger set so use your discretion.

All shows run through Sept. 3.

MOCA Grand Avenue
250 South Grand Ave.
Online: moca.org

photo: Skirball Cultural Center

Skirball Cultural Center
Jump on the chance to see the work of Los Angeles born and bred artist Kehinde Wiley. Wiley, known as the artist commissioned to paint President Barack Obama’s official portrait, is also known for his signature style that uses large canvasses to take anonymous men and women of color and paint them gifted with power and stature.

The Skirball is featuring an artist’s spotlight with Wiley’s work “The World Stage: Israel,” inspired by people in nightclub and shopping districts in Tel Aviv. The two paintings are of men from the Ethiopian Jewish community who told their own stories of immigration, struggle, community, and inclusion while sitting for the portraits. This spotlight is an inspiring way to step into a conversation about the complications and multi-faceted nature of community and nationality–even in its earliest forms. The show runs through Sept. 2.

photo: John E. Barrett. Kermit the Frog © Disney/Muppets.
Courtesy The Jim Henson Company/MoMI

Also, if you have a Muppet or Labyrinth fan (okay, maybe you’re the Labyrinth fan) on your hands you’re in luck. The Skirball will be posting “The Jim Henson Exhibition: Imagination Unlimited” beginning Jun 1.

This show is a traveling exhibition organized by the Museum of the Moving Image in Collaboration with the Henson Family and includes over 100 objects and 25 of those most iconic puppets that we all know and love. This is a great way for the entire family to dive into a bit of American pop culture that has had a lasting and unique effect on the world of film, art, and entertainment. Really, where would we be without Sesame Street?

Explore the world of The Muppets, The Dark Crystal, Labyrinth and Sesame Street through sketches, storyboards, scripts, and costumes. Afterward, the whole family can work on creating their own puppets and learning the art of puppeteering.

All hands on deck for this interactive exhibition. I mean, who doesn’t want to see Kermit the Frog in the “flesh”? We do. The show runs from Jun. 1-Sept. 2.

Skirball Cultural Center
2701 N. Sepulveda Blvd.
Online: skirball.org

Photo: Tiger Strikes Asteroid

Tiger Strikes Asteroid
If you want to venture away from the large museums and support a local gallery check out the “Bodies of a Different Mass” exhibition at Tiger Strikes Asteroid Downtown. This exhibition will include artists from Philadelphia and Los Angeles who have influenced each other through their art or through their acquaintances.

The show includes mixed media and is filled with a large group of artists, half of whom are living and working right here in our city. This is a great opportunity to expose the littles to the world of art on the local scale and to inspire the possibility of expression. The show runs through May 13.

Tiger Strikes Asteroid
1206 Maple Ave., Suite 523
(209) 553-0462
online: tigerstrikesasteroid.com

Watts Towers Art Center
An inspiration in and of themselves, Simon Rodia, an immigrant from Italy, built the famed towers with recycled materials with his own two hands over the course of 33 years. He had no assistance, no scaffolding but surely a tremendous amount of heart. He named the towers “Nuestro Pueblo” or “Our Town.”

If you visit on the weekend, take a tour with one of the informed docents at the center. While you’re there be sure to visit the Art Center that hosts a permanent collection of art and musical instruments from around the world. On view now is the group exhibition “Creative Souls”, which features a collection of work from 21 L.A.-based, black artists. This is a varied range of work curated by the center’s director, Rosie Lee Hooks and UCLA professor Paul Von Blum who wrote a book of the same title that explores the history of black art in Los Angeles. The exhibition runs through Jul. 8.

Once you’re finished soaking up the art, be sure to head back outside where the kids can run or ride scooters in the beautiful shadows of the towers.

Watts Towers Arts Center
1727 East 107th St.
Online: wattstowers.org

photo: LeTania Kirkland Smith

Peter Shire at Kayne Griffin Corcoran
If your family is not familiar with the work of Echo Park (born and bred) artist Peter Shire, now is a good time to get acquainted. Shire is known for his unique, quirky, and colorful ceramics and sculptures.

Check out Shire’s work in the show “Peter Shire: Drawings, Impossible Teapots, Furniture or Sculpture” exhibit. Shire’s pops of colors and geometric sculptures will likely inspire a burst of light into your littles. The show runs through May 12.

If you’re nervous about taking them into the gallery setting you can also see Shire’s sculpture at the Frank Glass and Grace E. Simons Memorial or Angels Point in Elysian Park. A combination of colorful curves, angles, and even a functional mobile at the top all overlooking the downtown skyline from the hills is a great way to soak in some culture and fresh air. Then you can let them run it all out in the park.

Kayne Griffin Corcoran
1201 S La Brea Ave.
Online: kaynegriffincorcoran.com

photo: Annenberg Space for Photography

Annenberg Space for Photography
A total gem in the Los Angeles museum scene, this season the gallery is presenting “Not an Ostrich: And Other Images for American’s Library.” Photography curator Anne Wilkes Tucker selected nearly 500 images out of over 14 million from the Library of Congress in Washington D.C. to create this show. Images include early daguerreotypes, the first photographic process, images of giants like Abraham Lincoln and Cesar Chavez as well as modern processes that display American life and culture. This is a great way to dive into American History through photographs with your littles.

The exhibit opens Apr. 21 and runs through Sept. 9.

Annenberg Space for Photography
2000 Avenue of the Stars
Online: annenbergphotospace.org

Where do you go to get your family’s hit of culture? Let us know in the comments below!

—LeTania Kirkland Smith


Los Angeles Activities: Explore Pasadena

7 Local Kid-Inspired Businesses We Love

Awesome Spring Festivals to Celebrate the Season


L.A.'s Best Art Museums to Visit with the Kids


Parenting news, advice, and inspo… right in your inbox.

By signing up to Tinybeans newsletters you agree to our Terms and Privacy Policy