Guide: 20 LA museums to offer free admission Saturday (map)

The Los Angeles Contemporary Museum of Art and 19 other SoCal museums will be offering free admission on Jan. 25.
The Los Angeles Contemporary Museum of Art and 19 other SoCal museums will be offering free admission on Jan. 25.
Andy Castro/Flickr Creative Commons


Get lost in a maze of snowflakes at the Santa Monica Museum of Art, enjoy the sights and sounds of the American West at The Autry or step into a 3D film filled with thousands of monarch butterflies at the California Science Center.

Angelenos can enjoy free admission to 20 museums — including LACMA, the Fowler Museum and the Annenberg Space for Photography — during SoCal Museum's ninth annual Free-For-All Saturday on January 25, 2014.

What exhibitions and museums should you plan on attending?

Stacy Lieberman, vice president of communications and visitor experience at the Autry Museum, suggests the Pasadena Museum of California Art for "Picturing Mexico: Alfredo Ramos Martinez in California." 

Lieberman expects a high turnout at the event this year.

"We often see groups coming together, groups from women's shelters, Boy Scout troops..and I think the Free-For-All gives the community a chance to think about access to museums," she told KPCC.

In anticipation of Saturday's event, we've created a mini cheat sheet to help you make the most of the day. Here are a few highlights, exhibitions and food destinations you don't want to miss: 

1. Visit the gardens at the Getty Villa 

(Mark Weston/flickr Creative Commons)

Enjoy a relaxing day at the Getty Villa and surround yourself with the sights, smells and sounds of Mother Nature. Explore 300 different varieties of plants, herbs, fruit trees and rare flowers before visiting the Outer Peristyle — one of the largest gardens at the Villa (complete with intricate Greek and Roman-inspired architecture and glittering ponds). What's the secret behind the Villa's amazing architecture? Find out in this interactive 12-minute video.

2. Take selfies and view contemporary art at LACMA

You can never take too many selfies at LACMA. Get sucked into a vortex of giant noodles, enjoy the popular dreamy urban lights installation and grab a bite to eat at the museum's spacious outdoor food court. (You can also find some great meals at the food trucks across the street.) 

When you're done stuffing yourself with tasty Mediterranean food, walk over to the Metropolis II exhibition and experience Chris Burden's surreal interpretation of a modern city. Expect to see dozens of miniature cars whizzing by on colorful roadways. Bring the kids; they'll definitely get a kick out of this creative and kinetic exhibit. 

3. Sip on Café Viva's delicious Mexican hot chocolate at the Museum of Latin American Art 

(Isabelle Boucher/flickr Creative Commons) 

Make it a lunch date and head over to Café Viva for a flavorful taste of Latin America. Choose from a variety of vegetarian and meat options. If you're a foodie, order the Oaxacan Tlayuda Chicken Mol and a warm cup of Mexican hot chocolate (or wine) to help you relax. Remember to save some room for that coconut flan you've been dying to devour like a champ.

4. Photos galore at the Annenberg Space for Photography

Need a creative space where you can analyze, critique and learn more about the story behind the lens? View photos and surreal moments captured by some of the world's best photographers at the museum's Skylight Studios. To stimulate your mind, enjoy a variety of topics during the Iris Nights lecture series. You can expect to hear personal accounts and photo techniques from professional photographers and experts in the field.

Here's a sneak peek:

5. View art inspired by the American West at Autry National Center

Looking for the perfect excuse to visit both a museum and the zoo in one day? Now's the chance to brush up on your American West history while perusing a collection of paintings, pottery and vibrant native beadwork. Be sure to grab your cowboy boots and jam out to music inspired by the West. After you've visited your favorite exhibitions, hang with your favorite amphibians and zoo animals at the Los Angeles Zoo, conveniently located across from the museum. 

6. Dizzying patterns and student creations at the Santa Monica Museum of Art

Known as the only non-collecting museum in Southern California, the Santa Monica Museum of Art displays a unique blend of contemporary, every day art. Visit the latest Wall Works Black Holes exhibit for a striking display of milk cartons transformed into surrealist art by local students. Obsessed with the outdoors and anything that involves snow? You'll love this creative exhibition and indoor mountain replica. 

(Floyd B. Bariscale/flickr Creative Commons)
Browse through an impressive display of vintage fire trucks, fire engines and other memorabilia dating back to the 1880s, preserved by the Los Angeles Fire Department Museum. Honor the memory of firefighters at the Fallen Firefighter Memorial and Plaza and find trinkets and other great gifts at the gift shop located at Old Engine Co. No. 27, which was restored after the Northridge quake. The coolest thing about this museum? They'll provide fire safety lessons for kids and adults at the learning center.

Here's a full list of museums that will offer free admission for the day (parking fees may apply). Check individual museum websites for the hours of operation: 

Here's a map with a list of the museums.

(Map by Monica Luhar)
What's your favorite SoCal museum and why? Send us pictures at mluhar@scpr.org or tweet us at @KPCC.