72 Hours in Los Angeles for Art Lovers

"Urban Light" at LACMA

The thriving Los Angeles arts scene could fill a lifetime, and for visitors that experience begins with the Public Art and Exhibitions Program at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). Just have a few days? Not to worry. That’s enough time to get immersed in plenty of culture, from classic to contemporary art, music, dance and cuisine.


Day One: Hotel Wilshire

Check into your room at The Hotel Wilshire, an urban oasis with perks like in-room spa services and complimentary bicycles. The hotel rooftop is a destination in itself, beginning with breakfast or a yoga class by the pool. Watch the sunset from the rooftop during Wine Hour, then dine at The Roof on Wilshire, featuring American bistro fare by celebrity chef Eric Greenspan. Several museums along L.A.'s famed Museum Row are within walking distance of the hotel, including the Petersen Automotive Museum, with its three floors of historic vehicles.

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Day One: LACMA

Located steps away from the Hotel Wilshire, the art experience at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) begins on the grounds, where the Resnick North Lawn houses Michael Heizer’s Levitated Mass, a 340-ton granite megalith perched above a 456-foot-long slot. Outside the BP Pavilion, a cluster of 202 illuminating antique street lamps comprises Chris Burden’s iconic Urban Light installation. Venture inside the museum to see works from other greats like Alexander Calder and David Hockney. A favorite exhibit for young and old is Chris Burden’s Metropolis II, a kinetic sculpture with miniature cars speeding along an intricate roadway system. Ongoing series are devoted to film screenings and live music. Next door to LACMA is the Ice Age-focused Page Museum at the La Brea Tar Pits.

Ray's and Stark Bar

Day One: Ray's & Stark Bar

Catch sight of a flatbread being delivered from the wood-burning oven to a table, and there will be no passing by this Mediterranean-inspired LACMA venue. The Cur-ATE cuisine series pairs food with special exhibits.

Day One: Getty Center

The world-famous Getty Center, located on a hilltop above Brentwood, is a must for any art or architecture fan. A tram transports visitors high above the city, and the museum’s mountaintop gardens and views are masterpieces unto themselves. Inside are paintings, decorative arts, photography, and sculptures from the 19th to the 21st century. There’s no need to leave at dinnertime - The Restaurant at the Getty Center offers diverse fare sure to please a variety of palates. The restaurant often features menu items inspired by special art exhibits. To enjoy some evening performance art, check the Getty Center’s schedule for live music.

Day Two: MOCA

Downtown L.A. is the art destination on Day Two, home to the Grand Avenue location of the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), where more than 6,800 works represent abstract expressionism, minimalism, pop art, conceptual art, and postmodernism. MOCA has three facilities: its main headquarters on Grand, The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA in Little Tokyo, and MOCA Pacific Design Center in West Hollywood.

Day Two: Geffen Contemporary

Minutes away from MOCA Grand Avenue, more visual tantalization awaits inside the Geffen Contemporary at MOCA, located in the historic district of Little Tokyo. The building was once a police vehicle warehouse before famed architect Frank Gehry worked his transformational magic.

Walt Disney Concert Hall at the Music Center

Day Two: Walt Disney Concert Hall

This acclaimed Frank Gehry-designed building is home to the Los Angeles Philharmonic, where Music Director Gustavo Dudamel weaves the air with performances to remember. Continuing its 10th anniversary celebration into the 2014 season, the concert hall’s calendar is filled with chamber music from its TchaikovskyFest to world premieres of new works from renowned composers like Andrew Norman. Time permitting, take an hour-long guided or self-guided audio tour of the architectural and acoustical wonder.

Getty Villa courtyard | Photo by Stephen Lee Carr, Flickr

Day Three: Getty Villa

Day Three begins at the Getty Villa, located in the Pacific Palisades. Modeled after a first-century Roman country house - the Villa dei Papiri in Herculaneum, Italy - the Getty Villa houses a collection of 44,000 Greek, Roman, and Etruscan antiquities that span 7,000 years of history, from the end of the Stone Age to the fall of the Roman Empire. Among the Villa's treasures is the Lansdowne Herakles, one of L.A.’s masterpieces and renowned as one of the greatest statues of ancient Rome.

"Dr. Pozzi at Home" (detail) at the Hammer Museum | Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

Day Three: Hammer Museum

Located in Westwood Village near UCLA, the Hammer Museum houses a permanent collection that includes paintings by masters such as Rembrandt, Cezanne, Pissaro, Monet and van Gogh, as well as the famous portrait by John Singer Sargent, Dr. Pozzi at Home. The Hammer is also renowned for its impressive contemporary art collection, and frequently presents acclaimed special exhibits and events. The Hammer's biennial exhibition, Made in L.A., is currently on view through October 2014. Made in L.A. 2014 takes over the entire museum and features works by 35 Los Angeles artists, with an emphasis on emerging and under-recognized artists. Admission to all exhibitions and public programs is free and open to the public.

AMMO at the Hammer | Photo courtesy of the Hammer Museum

Day Three: Ammo at the Hammer Museum

AMMO at the Hammer features roll up glass and steel doors that open to a tree-lined courtyard. At lunch - the café’s meal de resistance - AMMO primarily features sandwiches and salads. Enticing options include a grilled cheese sandwich with Fontina, braised escarole and chili; and roasted kabocha stew with cumin yogurt sauce.

Visitors experience the Secret Annex | Photo by Benny Chan, courtesy of


The Museum of Tolerance (MOT) is the educational arm of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, an internationally renowned Jewish human rights organization. The only museum of its kind in the world, the MOT is dedicated to challenging visitors to understand the Holocaust in both historic and contemporary contexts, and confront all forms of prejudice and discrimination in our world today. Currently on display at the MOT, Anne is an extraordinary immersive exhibit on the life and legacy of Anne Frank. Anne’s story, told in her own words, comes to life through rare artifacts, unique documents, and photographs.