Downtown Los Angeles is a city of art, and for art.
With galleries ranging from the cavernous to the intimate, DTLA boasts a vibrant and varied art scene that is constantly injecting new energies, bold assertions, and inspiring interpretations into the city. From the twin titans of MOCA and The Broad, to secret pop-ups and street art, Downtown LA is sparking with thought-provoking expression spanning the world-renowned to the underground.
No trip to LA is complete without exploring a gallery and here are five spots that are worth the time and will reward the effort.
You can't talk about art and LA without mentioning MOCA. Since 1979, the Museum of Contemporary Art has been a leading art destination in Downtown LA and has been crucial to the ongoing development of the Los Angeles art community. With one the world's most compelling collections of challenging and historically significant art housed in a building designed by the Pritzer Prize-award winning architect Arata Isozki, MOCA simply should not be missed. Now under new leadership by the celebrated Klaus Biesenbach of New York's MoMA PS1 fame the future looks as bright as its past. Complementing the gallery exhibits, MOCA also hosts screenings, performances, readings, and a range of lectures. Recently, MOCA has gone to a free admission policy, thereby opening up their incredible and inspirational body of work to anyone with an inquisitive mind. Be sure to not overlook MOCA's satellite location, the Geffen Contemporary at MOCA. The spacious warehouse-turned-gallery is found in Little Tokyo, a short mile walk away from the Grand Avenue MOCA location. This former police car warehouse was renovated by famed architect Frank Gehry and offers up 40,000 square feet of exhibition space. Expect big ideas from this big space, then relax a bit in WAREHOUSE, their multi-use area great for a cup of coffee from Café Dulce or a book from the bookstore.
The Broad is the new jewel of Grand Avenue, a creative venue and cultural experience so far beyond your standard gallery fare it has become a work of art in and of itself. A generous gift to the city of Los Angeles from Eli and Edythe Broad, The Broad houses one of the world's most prominent collections of contemporary art and exhibits globally exalted works as well as a rotating roster of special installations. The Broad has elevated the gallery experience through thoughtful, challenging curation, welcoming environments, and a dedication to preserving the legacies and legends of many of our most cherished creators. See works from such influential artists like Barbara Kruger, Cy Twombly, Andy Warhol, and Jean-Michael Basquiat and marvel at the building's bold architecture; especially the unique and striking facade. The gallery opened in late 2015 to immediate fanfare and praise and is still drawing record crowds. Today, the gallery welcomes almost a million people a year and long lines around the block are common. Free reservations are strongly recommended!
Need more music with your art? Dance on over to the Grammy Museum at LA LIVE and tap your toes to a pitch-perfect collection of music memorabilia, exciting exhibits, and hands-on audio experiences. This feature-rich gallery and museum is a celebration of the power of music and is an investigation into the influences, traditions, and accomplishments that have entertained us for decades. Be sure to visit In the Studio, an engaging string of interactive experiences that puts you front and center of the recording process and Culture Shock where you learn more about music's most revolutionary figures. Regardless of your taste in music, the Grammy Museum will strike a chord with its high-gloss, informative displays and dedication to celebrating the most important moments and movements in music.
Get a little fresh air with your art, and go for a walk. The ever-popular DTLA Art Walk is here to curate a ramble through some of the most compelling galleries, exhibits, and murals in Downtown LA. This well-run, volunteer-powered association of art lovers is a mainstay in the Downtown LA art scene and has played a vital role in the celebration of this important creative community. They have two primary tours: the Downtown Art Walk Gallery Tour and the Historic Core Mural and Street Art Tour. Led by knowledgeable and affable Art Walk insiders, these strolling surveys of DTLA creative crucibles support local artists and celebrate their work. Want to go at your own pace? Pick up a detailed Art Walk map and follow your instincts sans pilot. Either with a guide or going it alone, the deep knowledge and curatorial prowess of DTLA Art Walk will reveal an active and stimulating art community which is sure to color any visit to Downtown LA.
Once you've gotten your fill of high-culture hot spots and Artforum superheroes, truck on over to Chinatown and visit one of the largest collections of velvet-based art in the world. Once relegated to the world of not-so-fine art, the Velveteria has elevated this much maligned medium and given it a rightful place in the painttheon. Collectors of the curious, Caren Anderson and Carl Baldwin, have lovingly amassed over 3,000 paintings from around the world, showing around 400 or so at given time in their quirky gallery. Of course you'll find your standard Velvet Elvises and "sad clown" paintings, but you'll also find more esoteric effort like the haunting image of early 90's teen heartthrob, GG Allin.
While these are certainly a few highlights of the DTLA art scene, there's still so many other places to check out! Have a look at our interactive Museums and Galleries Map for a complete list of galleries, art spaces, and museums.