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Museums of the Arroyo Day — an alternative look at Los Angeles

Visitors were asked to look for the three Lummis family members whose names are carved into the stones of the Lummis home.
Visitors were asked to look for the three Lummis family members whose names are carved into the stones of the Lummis home.
The Museums of the Arroyo Day

If biking throughout L.A. isn't your thing, there's an alternative this Sunday. Stroll through any of the six history-based locations participating in Museums of the Arroyo Day to get your fix of the architecture, art and history of the Arroyo Seco preserved in modern-day northeast Los Angeles.

Brenda Rees, a Museums of the Arroyo Day coordinator, told KPCC that the 27th annual event sheds a different light on the city, shifting the perspective.

“Los Angeles is not all Hollywood Walk of [Fame], we do have this history that’s really rich and varied," she said.

The open house-style event, Rees said, brings places in the city that are otherwise off the radar into the spotlight for a day. From the Native Americans of L.A. to later prominent society members like Charles Lummis, the day is designed to show visitors what the city once was. 

Visit one or all of the venues between noon and 5 p.m. on Sunday, free of charge.  

Each location will be participating in a "Hidden in Plain Sight" activity that requires guests to search for a specific historic object on the grounds.

Here's a breakdown of the events at each location: 


Heritage Square Museum

A curated collection of nine iconic homes and structures make up this park-like museum, opening their doors and giving visitors an inside look into homes such as the Hale House, built in 1887. 

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There will be blacksmithing demonstrations and costumed docents on site to give random bits of historical information. You can also check out items from the Cal State L.A. library's special collections before taking a stab at Victorian-era games. 

Normally, visitors are escorted by a tour guide — but this will be the only day where they'll be allowed to stroll through the homes at their own pace. 


The Gamble House 

Friends of the Gamble House - Building Paradise In California
Friends of the Gamble House - Building Paradise In California
The Gamble House

 

 

 

This well-preserved piece of Pasadena architecture from 1908 was once the home of David and Mary Gamble of Procter and Gamble.

The centerpiece for this location is the garden. Visitors can stroll through and plant a seed in the home's garden to make a mark on history. Children can also make their own garden butterfly. 


The Los Angeles Police Museum

File: Police station house 11 built in 1925, now home to the Los Angeles Police Museum.
File: Police station house 11 built in 1925, now home to the Los Angeles Police Museum.
Peter Gilstrap/KQED

 

 

 

 

Now a registered National Historic Landmark, this 1925 Highland Park Police station was restored to its original renaissance revival style and opened in 2001 as a museum.

Apart from snapping a selfie in a real jail cell, visitors can tour the facilities, which will feature private collections and historic memorabilia that dates back to the late 1800s. Kids can also climb into a retired police helicopter.


The Lummis Home

File: The front exterior of the Lummis Home was left unfinished after the death of Charles Lummis' son at age 6 of pneumonia.
File: The front exterior of the Lummis Home was left unfinished after the death of Charles Lummis' son at age 6 of pneumonia.
Sharon McNary/KPCC

 

 

 

 

Construction for the Lummis Home started in 1898 and finished in 1910. It was built by Charles Fletcher Lummis, a Los Angeles-based activist, author and civic booster who also founded the Southwest Museum and was the first city editor of the L.A. Times. 

Visitors can enjoy a fine arts market set up on the grounds that will feature the work of Native American jewelers, painters, sculptors and fiber artists in both traditional and modern styles. That day marks the 30th anniversary of the Lummis Garden. Members of the community are also being asked to pitch in — they're being welcomed to join in on garden cleanup from 8 to 11:30 a.m. 


Pasadena Museum of History

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Tucked away in Pasadena is a museum on the history of Pasadena and the San Gabriel Valley that always has exhibitions, lectures and workshops.

Families can take mini-tours of the 1906 Beaux Arts-style Fenyes Mansion and the Finnish Folk Art Museum after watching weavers and sewers from Bobbinwinders Guild spin original creations. There will be docents in select rooms to share information about the original period furnishings, family heirlooms and more. 


The Southwest Museum

The Southwest Museum.
The Southwest Museum.
The Museums of the Arroyo Day

This 1914 museum has one of the largest collections of Native American materials in the country. 

From 1 to 4 p.m. on Sunday, visitors can explore the ways people have interacted with the Arroyo Seco over time, play a walnut shell-and-dice game, mix and mold your own adobe bricks and learn about native California plants in the community garden. Guests can also join in a garden scavenger hunt  and observe rope-making demonstrations.

Pro tip: Fight the urge to visit them all in one day. There's always next year, plus regular museum prices and hours the rest of the year.