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The interior of the Getty villa in California. The floor has white, brown, and black patterned tiles. The walls are green and white. There are domed open doorways.
Getty Villa in Pacific Palisades.
By Hayk_Shalunts / Shutterstock

Mapped: 44 Southern California museums offering free admission this weekend

If you needed an excuse to visit one of these spots, you found it

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Getty Villa in Pacific Palisades.
| By Hayk_Shalunts / Shutterstock

Not quite the Super Bowl type? Check out the annual Museums Free-for-All this weekend, when over 40 Southern California museums open their doors to the public for free. Institutions across the region, from Santa Barbara to Palm Springs, are participating, offering visitors the chance to scope out a wide range of art and historical artifacts, from giant, colorful installations to exhibits documenting the fight for civil rights.

There are some caveats. Museums participating in the Free-for-All event will offer free general admission, which doesn’t always include special, ticketed exhibits.

Some museums, such as the Japanese American National Museum in Little Tokyo and Exposition Park’s Natural History Museum, are only offering free tickets for one day this weekend. Others, like the California African American Museum, are always free to enter.

A handful of museums, like The Broad, are strongly recommending getting free tickets online in advance in order to avoid lines.

Also remember that while museum entry will be free, the usual parking fees still apply.

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1. Academy Museum of Motion Pictures Pop-Up

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5905 Wilshire Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90036
(323) 857-6000
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The full-on museum doesn’t open until later this year, but for Free-for-All, it’s doing a Saturday pop-up on the west side of LACMA’s campus from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., “rain or shine.” The museum has said that activities will include a wheel you can spin to win prizes including free museum memberships. Get a selfie with that cool sphere! (Saturday only)

2. Armory Center For the Arts

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145 N Raymond Ave
Pasadena, CA 91103
(626) 792-5101
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The Armory is both a host to contemporary art exhibitions and a community arts education hub. Right now, see work on display from Sara Kathryn Arledge, an “under-recognized painter and innovator of mid-20th century experimental cinema.” (Saturday and Sunday; gallery always free)

3. Automobile Driving Museum

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610 Lairport St
El Segundo, CA 90245
(310) 909-0950
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This museum not only preserves classic cars, it offers you a chance to ride in them every week. Swing by on Sunday for your chance to cruise in a 1926 Pontiac 2-Door Coach or a 1932 Buick Victoria. (Saturday and Sunday)

4. Autry Museum of the American West

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4700 Western Heritage Way, - Griffith Park
Los Angeles, CA 90027
(323) 667-2000
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The Autry in Griffith Park, focusing on the diverse peoples of the West, has a wide scope with collections from Native American art to old stagecoaches, and two newer galleries. Current exhibits include photos of the aftermath of the 1906 earthquake in San Francisco. (Saturday only)

5. Bowers Museum

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2002 N Main St
Santa Ana, CA 92706
(714) 567-3600
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The Bowers Museum’s specialty is art from around the world, and on view now are exhibits of expertly carved gemstones, art from the Pacific Islands, and paintings of California made between 1850 and 1930. The Bowers also has a “Kidseum,” a museum for children with hands-on activities that’s open on weekends. (Sunday only)

6. The Broad

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221 S Grand Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90012
(213) 232-6200
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This museum is hard to miss if you’re driving on Bunker Hill. The dynamic building, designed by the firm Diller Scofidio + Renfro, houses works from the private collection of Eli and Edythe Broad, which are mainly postwar and contemporary pieces. Finally get that picture in a Yayoi Kusama infinity room! (Saturday and Sunday; always free; advance tickets recommended)

7. California African American Museum

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600 State Dr
Los Angeles, CA 90037
(213) 744-7432
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Located in the cultural hub of Exposition Park, CAAM focuses on African American art, history and culture, but with a special emphasis on the West Coast and in California. Check out exhibitions on the Los Angeles Freedom Rally in 1963 and multi-media works by Houston-born artist Robert Pruitt. (Saturday and Sunday; always free)

8. California Science Center

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700 Exposition Park Dr
Los Angeles, CA 90037
(323) 724-3623
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Another Exposition Park institution, the California Science Center showcases some amazing pieces, such as an entire space shuttle that’s actually been into space. The museum has a permanent exhibit devoted to exploring diverse ecosystems from around the world, from a rainforest to a kelp forest to icy polar conditions.

The free-museum-day non-pricing does not apply to the center’s special exhibits or IMAX films. And a timed reservation with a “convenience fee” is required for Space Shuttle Endeavour. The fee is $3 per ticket. That fee is waived if you also buy an IMAX ticket. (Saturday and Sunday; always free)

9. Columbia Memorial Space Center

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12400 Columbia Way
Downey, CA 90242
(562) 231-1200
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The Columbia Memorial Space Center is “a hands-on learning center dedicated to bringing the wonder and excitement of science and innovation to audiences of all ages and backgrounds” that honors Downey’s aerospace history.

The museum is on the site that for decades housed a plant where NASA spaceships—vehicles that first took American astronauts to the moon—were built. (Saturday only)

10. Craft Contemporary

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5814 Wilshire Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90036
(323) 937-4230
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Craft Contemporary (formerly known as the Craft and Folk Art Museum) has held exhibits on ceramics, bookmaking arts, papercraft, shoe design, and even tiny houses. The museum, located on Miracle Mile, has a fantastic gift shop, too. (Saturday and Sunday)

11. Descanso Gardens

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1418 Descanso Dr
La Cañada Flintridge, CA 91011
(818) 949-4200
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Beautiful Descanso Gardens boasts 160 acres of flora, including flowers that are probably in bloom right now. There’s also a gorgeous restaurant and a one-eighth-scale replica train. Free online tickets are encouraged for quicker entry. (Saturday only)

12. Forest Lawn Museum

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1712 S Glendale Ave
Glendale, CA 91205
(888) 204-3131
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Come for the serene surroundings and famous people’s graves, but stay for the bronzes, marble statues, medieval armor, and stained glass windows “dating back to the thirteenth century,” says the website for the free museum day. (Saturday and Sunday; always free)

13. Fowler Museum

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Fowler Museum, 308 Charles E Young Dr N
Los Angeles, CA 90024

The Fowler Museum focuses on “global arts,” especially those from Africa, Asia, the Pacific, and the Americas. Current exhibits include “World on the Horizon: Swahili Arts Across the Indian Ocean,” and another on Second Lines—or Sunday brass band parades in New Orleans. (Saturday and Sunday; always free)

14. Frederick R Weisman Art Foundation

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265 N Carolwood Dr
Los Angeles, CA 90077
(310) 277-5321
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This modern and contemporary art museum is a showcase for the personal collection of the late Frederick Weisman. The museum is housed in a 1920s Holmby Hills villa designed by Gordon B. Kaufmann, the architect behind the Hollywood Palladium and the Earl Carroll Theatre. (Saturday and Sunday)

15. The Getty

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1200 Getty Center Dr
Los Angeles, CA 90049
(310) 440-7300
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The Getty museum is really an indoor-outdoor experience. Once you make it up the hill (on a tram!), you’re rewarded with views and lots of outdoor space to sit and rest. Oh yes, and all that art. (Saturday and Sunday; always free)

16. The Getty Villa

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17985 Pacific Coast Hwy
Pacific Palisades, CA 90272
(310) 440-7300
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Let’s take it back—way back, to ancient Greece. The Getty Villa features Greek, Roman and Etruscan antiquities in a gorgeous setting designed to mimic a first-century Roman country home. Free, timed tickets are required for Sunday; information on ticketing is at the Getty’s website. (Saturday and Sunday; always free)

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17. Hammer Museum

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10899 Wilshire Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90024
(310) 443-7000
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The soon-to-be-expanding Hammer Museum in Westwood focuses on contemporary art in a range of mediums. Right now, the museum has an exhibit on view of recent additions to their collection, like this multi-media piece by Njideka Akunyili Crosby. (Saturday and Sunday; always free)

18. Institute of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles

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1717 E 7th St
Los Angeles, CA 90021
(213) 928-0833
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Formerly known as the Santa Monica Museum of Art, ICALA opened in the fall in an Arts District space near the Greyhound bus station, and features revolving exhibits of contemporary works by international artists. The museum’s new space was designed by architecture firm wHY. (Saturday and Sunday; always free)

19. Japanese American National Museum

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100 N Central Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90012
(213) 625-0414
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This Little Tokyo museum is all about the Japanese American experience, looking at the past as well as the present and future.

A current exhibit looks at photos of Japanese-Americans who were forcibly placed in internment camps during World War II in contemporary and historic photos—a kind of “then and now” approach. Free tickets for entry are available here. (Saturday only)

20. Kidspace Children's Museum

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480 N Arroyo Blvd
Pasadena, CA 91103
(626) 449-9144
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This museum right by the Rose Bowl explicitly for kids features over 40 hands-on exhibits, outdoor activity space, and stuff for kids to climb on in multiple locations. (Saturday only)

21. La Brea Tar Pits & Museum

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5801 Wilshire Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90036
(213) 763-3499
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The Miracle Mile Tar Pits are a great hangout space and offer a look at some truly old LA history—fossils of dire wolves and mammoths taken from asphalt deposits up to 40,000 years old. Free general admission tickets are available here. (Saturday only)

22. LACE (Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions)

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6522 Hollywood Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90028
(323) 957-1777
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Founded in 1978, this Hollywood Boulevard nonprofit venue hosts exhibits and performances and maintains archives of 40 years of LACE-related material. On view right now: “Take My Money / Take My Body,” which looks at K-Pop as ways to look closer at “the promises of popular media within highly bureaucratic, surveilled, and macro-scaled communities.” (Saturday and Sunday; gallery always free)

23. Laguna Art Museum

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307 Cliff Dr
Laguna Beach, CA 92651
(949) 494-8971
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Located in tony Laguna Beach, this museum is currently hosting a retrospective of work from Self-Help Graphics, an arts non-profit now based in Boyle Heights that began as a printshop in East LA during the early years of the Chicano Movement. (Saturday and Sunday)

24. La Plaza De Culturas y Artes

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501 N Main St
Los Angeles, CA 90012
(213) 542-6200
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Located in the El Pueblo complex near Olvera Street, this cultural institution is focused on the history of Mexican Americans in Southern California. “Landscapes and Land Dwellers: Photography of Place,” a collection of photos of Eastside neighborhoods by self-taught photographer Rafael Cardenas is on view now. (Saturday and Sunday; always free)

25. Los Angeles County Museum of Art

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5905 Wilshire Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90036
(323) 857-6000
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LACMA offers a vast selection of art housed in multiple buildings, including one with a giant elevator featuring a piece by Barbara Kruger. The architecture is another bit of eye-candy, and there’s also a sculpture garden. (Saturday only)

26. Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust

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100 The Grove Dr
Los Angeles, CA 90036
(323) 651-3704
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This museum’s focus is pretty self-explanatory, but it offers surprising tidbits about this dark period in world history. (Saturday and Sunday; always free)

27. Muckenthaler Cultural Center

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1201 W Malvern Ave
Fullerton, CA 92833
(714) 738-6595
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This Spanish Colonial Revival estate houses a cultural center that hosts live performances, exhibitions, and classes. (It also seems to be an incredibly popular wedding venue.) In the gallery now is a show of work from high school students in Fullerton. (Sunday only)

28. Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles

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250 S Grand Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90012
(213) 621-2766
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The Grand Avenue location of the MOCA as well as the MOCA Geffen in Little Tokyo are participating in the free-admission day. The museums offers a look at contemporary art. Information on current exhibits is available on the museum’s website. (Saturday and Sunday)

29. Museum of Latin American Art (MOLAA)

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Museum of Latin American Art (MOLAA)
Long Beach, CA 90802

The nation’s only museum dedicated to modern and contemporary art from Latin America is currently hosting an exhibit on Chicana muralist and artist Judithe Hernández. (Sunday only)

30. Museum of Tolerance

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9786 W Pico Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90035
(310) 772-2505
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The Museum of Tolerance 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,” says a summary on the Free-for-All site.

There’s an exhibit devoted to the Holocaust, another about Anne Frank, and interactive exhibits touching on the civil rights struggle in America and human rights around the world. (Sunday only)

31. Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County

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900 W Exposition Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90007
(213) 763-3466
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The Natural History Museum has a spectacular garden, a giant whale skeleton suspended in an enormous glass enclosure that can be seen from the street, and a hands-on area where kids (and adults!) can learn about all the fauna that call LA home, from big gross bugs to rats and opossums.

The museum is offering free general admission and recommends reserving tickets in advance. Tickets can be reserved here. (Sunday only)

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32. Orange County Museum of Art (OCMA)

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850 San Clemente Dr
Newport Beach, CA 92660
(949) 759-1122
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OCMA offers a look at contemporary art and, right now, has on display works by artist Valentina Jager that involves large, hanging artworks “that immerse viewers in lush colors and fragile surfaces.” (Saturday and Sunday)

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33. Palm Springs Art Museum

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101 N Museum Dr
Palm Springs, CA 92262
(760) 322-4800
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It’s a bit of a drive, but who doesn’t love Palm Springs? On exhibit here is “Unselttled,” described as a “sweeping presentation of contemporary art by more than 75 artists living or working in the Greater West.” (Sunday only)

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34. Pomona College Museum of Art

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330 N College Ave
Claremont, CA 91711
(909) 621-8283
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Located in quiet, quaint Claremont, this art museum is on a college campus and has on view an installation by Courtney M. Leonard of the Shinnecock Nation. There’s also Andy Warhol prints and much more. (Saturday and Sunday)

35. Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden

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1500 N College Ave
Claremont, CA 91711
(909) 625-8767
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This Pomona Valley botanical garden is a great place to amble around on a mild day. There’s a good gift shop and picnic tables out front (you cannot bring in your picnic). (Saturday only)

36. Santa Barbara Museum Of Art

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1130 State St
Santa Barbara, CA 93101
(805) 963-4364
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Why not make a day out of a trip to a free museum? Up in Santa Barbara, the local museum of art has some hefty internationally-themed offerings: “a renowned Latin American collection; outstanding Greek, Roman and Egyptian antiquities; significant European and American works; and one of the finest Asian art collections on the West Coast.” (Saturday only)

37. Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History and Sea Center

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211 Stearns Wharf
Santa Barbara, CA 93101
(805) 962-2526
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The natural history museum is in downtown Santa Barbara but the Sea Center sits right on the historic Stearns Wharf and offers hands-on exhibits and ocean views. (Saturday only)

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38. Skirball Cultural Center

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2701 N Sepulveda Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90049
(310) 440-4500
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The Skirball Center describes itself as “a place of meeting guided by the Jewish tradition of welcoming the stranger and inspired by the American democratic ideals of freedom and equality.”

Those hoping to visit the attraction Noah’s Ark, take note: According to the Free-For-All website, “Noah’s Ark timed-entry, one-hour tickets are limited and distributed first-come, first-served.” (Sunday only)

39. Sunnylands Center & Gardens

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37977 Bob Hope Dr
Rancho Mirage, CA 92270
(760) 202-2200
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Sunnylands contains a lovely, 15,000-square-foot A. Quincy Jones-designed home that was built for Ambassador Walter and Leonore Annenberg. As such, it hosted foreign dignitaries and leaders foreign and domestic, including former presidents.

Now, it’s a kind of cultural and educational center and garden space with walking paths and desert landscaping. (Saturday and Sunday)

A courtyard with trees, cactii, and plants. Don Graham/Creative Commons

40. USC Fisher Museum of Art

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823 W Exposition Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90089
(213) 740-4561
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Located on USC’s campus, this art museum is featuring an exhibit landscape paintings from the museum’s collections. (Saturday only; always free)

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41. USC Pacific Asia Museum

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46 N Los Robles Ave
Pasadena, CA 91101
(626) 449-2742
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The Pacific Asia Museum is actually in Pasadena, not near USC. It’s focused on promoting the arts and culture of Asia and the Pacific Islands. A current exhibit explores the “heretofore unexamined influence of Mexican art and artists on the development of art in China in the twentieth century.” (Both Saturday and Sunday)

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42. Valley Relics Museum

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7900 Balboa Blvd. C3 & C4 Entrance on, Stagg St
Van Nuys, CA 91406
(818) 616-4083
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This awesome museum, located in two airport hangars, has a huge collection of cool, nostalgic items and lumps everything all together in the best way. Rare historic photos and documents from the San Fernando Valley’s past are displayed alongside Valley-made vintage BMX bikes. (Sunday only)

43. The Wende Museum

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10808 Culver Blvd
Culver City, CA 90230
(310) 216-1600
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This repository of incredible Cold War-era artifacts from the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe only recently moved into its new home in an old Culver City armory. On view now: Russian poster designs of the 1980s and early ’90s, (Saturday only; always free)

44. Zimmer Children's Museum by ShareWell

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6505 Wilshire Blvd #100
Los Angeles, CA 90048
(323) 761-8984
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Kids have so few museums made just for them, but the Zimmer is one of them. With a kid-friendly focus and hands-on exhibits geared toward kids up to eight years old. There appears to be a ball pit—always a plus. The museum is closing its current location on February 10, so visit before it’s too late. (Sunday only)

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1. Academy Museum of Motion Pictures Pop-Up

5905 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90036

The full-on museum doesn’t open until later this year, but for Free-for-All, it’s doing a Saturday pop-up on the west side of LACMA’s campus from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., “rain or shine.” The museum has said that activities will include a wheel you can spin to win prizes including free museum memberships. Get a selfie with that cool sphere! (Saturday only)

5905 Wilshire Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90036

2. Armory Center For the Arts

145 N Raymond Ave, Pasadena, CA 91103

The Armory is both a host to contemporary art exhibitions and a community arts education hub. Right now, see work on display from Sara Kathryn Arledge, an “under-recognized painter and innovator of mid-20th century experimental cinema.” (Saturday and Sunday; gallery always free)

145 N Raymond Ave
Pasadena, CA 91103

3. Automobile Driving Museum

610 Lairport St, El Segundo, CA 90245

This museum not only preserves classic cars, it offers you a chance to ride in them every week. Swing by on Sunday for your chance to cruise in a 1926 Pontiac 2-Door Coach or a 1932 Buick Victoria. (Saturday and Sunday)

610 Lairport St
El Segundo, CA 90245

4. Autry Museum of the American West

4700 Western Heritage Way, - Griffith Park, Los Angeles, CA 90027

The Autry in Griffith Park, focusing on the diverse peoples of the West, has a wide scope with collections from Native American art to old stagecoaches, and two newer galleries. Current exhibits include photos of the aftermath of the 1906 earthquake in San Francisco. (Saturday only)

4700 Western Heritage Way, - Griffith Park
Los Angeles, CA 90027

5. Bowers Museum

2002 N Main St, Santa Ana, CA 92706

The Bowers Museum’s specialty is art from around the world, and on view now are exhibits of expertly carved gemstones, art from the Pacific Islands, and paintings of California made between 1850 and 1930. The Bowers also has a “Kidseum,” a museum for children with hands-on activities that’s open on weekends. (Sunday only)

2002 N Main St
Santa Ana, CA 92706

6. The Broad

221 S Grand Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90012

This museum is hard to miss if you’re driving on Bunker Hill. The dynamic building, designed by the firm Diller Scofidio + Renfro, houses works from the private collection of Eli and Edythe Broad, which are mainly postwar and contemporary pieces. Finally get that picture in a Yayoi Kusama infinity room! (Saturday and Sunday; always free; advance tickets recommended)

221 S Grand Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90012

7. California African American Museum

600 State Dr, Los Angeles, CA 90037

Located in the cultural hub of Exposition Park, CAAM focuses on African American art, history and culture, but with a special emphasis on the West Coast and in California. Check out exhibitions on the Los Angeles Freedom Rally in 1963 and multi-media works by Houston-born artist Robert Pruitt. (Saturday and Sunday; always free)

600 State Dr
Los Angeles, CA 90037

8. California Science Center

700 Exposition Park Dr, Los Angeles, CA 90037

Another Exposition Park institution, the California Science Center showcases some amazing pieces, such as an entire space shuttle that’s actually been into space. The museum has a permanent exhibit devoted to exploring diverse ecosystems from around the world, from a rainforest to a kelp forest to icy polar conditions.

The free-museum-day non-pricing does not apply to the center’s special exhibits or IMAX films. And a timed reservation with a “convenience fee” is required for Space Shuttle Endeavour. The fee is $3 per ticket. That fee is waived if you also buy an IMAX ticket. (Saturday and Sunday; always free)

700 Exposition Park Dr
Los Angeles, CA 90037

9. Columbia Memorial Space Center

12400 Columbia Way, Downey, CA 90242

The Columbia Memorial Space Center is “a hands-on learning center dedicated to bringing the wonder and excitement of science and innovation to audiences of all ages and backgrounds” that honors Downey’s aerospace history.

The museum is on the site that for decades housed a plant where NASA spaceships—vehicles that first took American astronauts to the moon—were built. (Saturday only)

12400 Columbia Way
Downey, CA 90242

10. Craft Contemporary

5814 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90036

Craft Contemporary (formerly known as the Craft and Folk Art Museum) has held exhibits on ceramics, bookmaking arts, papercraft, shoe design, and even tiny houses. The museum, located on Miracle Mile, has a fantastic gift shop, too. (Saturday and Sunday)

5814 Wilshire Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90036

11. Descanso Gardens

1418 Descanso Dr, La Cañada Flintridge, CA 91011

Beautiful Descanso Gardens boasts 160 acres of flora, including flowers that are probably in bloom right now. There’s also a gorgeous restaurant and a one-eighth-scale replica train. Free online tickets are encouraged for quicker entry. (Saturday only)

1418 Descanso Dr
La Cañada Flintridge, CA 91011

12. Forest Lawn Museum

1712 S Glendale Ave, Glendale, CA 91205

Come for the serene surroundings and famous people’s graves, but stay for the bronzes, marble statues, medieval armor, and stained glass windows “dating back to the thirteenth century,” says the website for the free museum day. (Saturday and Sunday; always free)

1712 S Glendale Ave
Glendale, CA 91205

13. Fowler Museum

Fowler Museum, 308 Charles E Young Dr N, Los Angeles, CA 90024

The Fowler Museum focuses on “global arts,” especially those from Africa, Asia, the Pacific, and the Americas. Current exhibits include “World on the Horizon: Swahili Arts Across the Indian Ocean,” and another on Second Lines—or Sunday brass band parades in New Orleans. (Saturday and Sunday; always free)

Fowler Museum, 308 Charles E Young Dr N
Los Angeles, CA 90024

14. Frederick R Weisman Art Foundation

265 N Carolwood Dr, Los Angeles, CA 90077

This modern and contemporary art museum is a showcase for the personal collection of the late Frederick Weisman. The museum is housed in a 1920s Holmby Hills villa designed by Gordon B. Kaufmann, the architect behind the Hollywood Palladium and the Earl Carroll Theatre. (Saturday and Sunday)

265 N Carolwood Dr
Los Angeles, CA 90077

15. The Getty

1200 Getty Center Dr, Los Angeles, CA 90049

The Getty museum is really an indoor-outdoor experience. Once you make it up the hill (on a tram!), you’re rewarded with views and lots of outdoor space to sit and rest. Oh yes, and all that art. (Saturday and Sunday; always free)

1200 Getty Center Dr
Los Angeles, CA 90049

16. The Getty Villa

17985 Pacific Coast Hwy, Pacific Palisades, CA 90272

Let’s take it back—way back, to ancient Greece. The Getty Villa features Greek, Roman and Etruscan antiquities in a gorgeous setting designed to mimic a first-century Roman country home. Free, timed tickets are required for Sunday; information on ticketing is at the Getty’s website. (Saturday and Sunday; always free)

17985 Pacific Coast Hwy
Pacific Palisades, CA 90272

17. Hammer Museum

10899 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90024

The soon-to-be-expanding Hammer Museum in Westwood focuses on contemporary art in a range of mediums. Right now, the museum has an exhibit on view of recent additions to their collection, like this multi-media piece by Njideka Akunyili Crosby. (Saturday and Sunday; always free)

10899 Wilshire Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90024

18. Institute of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles

1717 E 7th St, Los Angeles, CA 90021

Formerly known as the Santa Monica Museum of Art, ICALA opened in the fall in an Arts District space near the Greyhound bus station, and features revolving exhibits of contemporary works by international artists. The museum’s new space was designed by architecture firm wHY. (Saturday and Sunday; always free)

1717 E 7th St
Los Angeles, CA 90021

19. Japanese American National Museum

100 N Central Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90012

This Little Tokyo museum is all about the Japanese American experience, looking at the past as well as the present and future.

A current exhibit looks at photos of Japanese-Americans who were forcibly placed in internment camps during World War II in contemporary and historic photos—a kind of “then and now” approach. Free tickets for entry are available here. (Saturday only)

100 N Central Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90012

20. Kidspace Children's Museum

480 N Arroyo Blvd, Pasadena, CA 91103

This museum right by the Rose Bowl explicitly for kids features over 40 hands-on exhibits, outdoor activity space, and stuff for kids to climb on in multiple locations. (Saturday only)

480 N Arroyo Blvd
Pasadena, CA 91103

21. La Brea Tar Pits & Museum

5801 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90036

The Miracle Mile Tar Pits are a great hangout space and offer a look at some truly old LA history—fossils of dire wolves and mammoths taken from asphalt deposits up to 40,000 years old. Free general admission tickets are available here. (Saturday only)

5801 Wilshire Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90036

22. LACE (Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions)

6522 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90028

Founded in 1978, this Hollywood Boulevard nonprofit venue hosts exhibits and performances and maintains archives of 40 years of LACE-related material. On view right now: “Take My Money / Take My Body,” which looks at K-Pop as ways to look closer at “the promises of popular media within highly bureaucratic, surveilled, and macro-scaled communities.” (Saturday and Sunday; gallery always free)

6522 Hollywood Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90028

23. Laguna Art Museum

307 Cliff Dr, Laguna Beach, CA 92651

Located in tony Laguna Beach, this museum is currently hosting a retrospective of work from Self-Help Graphics, an arts non-profit now based in Boyle Heights that began as a printshop in East LA during the early years of the Chicano Movement. (Saturday and Sunday)

307 Cliff Dr
Laguna Beach, CA 92651

24. La Plaza De Culturas y Artes

501 N Main St, Los Angeles, CA 90012

Located in the El Pueblo complex near Olvera Street, this cultural institution is focused on the history of Mexican Americans in Southern California. “Landscapes and Land Dwellers: Photography of Place,” a collection of photos of Eastside neighborhoods by self-taught photographer Rafael Cardenas is on view now. (Saturday and Sunday; always free)

501 N Main St
Los Angeles, CA 90012

25. Los Angeles County Museum of Art

5905 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90036

LACMA offers a vast selection of art housed in multiple buildings, including one with a giant elevator featuring a piece by Barbara Kruger. The architecture is another bit of eye-candy, and there’s also a sculpture garden. (Saturday only)

5905 Wilshire Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90036

26. Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust

100 The Grove Dr, Los Angeles, CA 90036

This museum’s focus is pretty self-explanatory, but it offers surprising tidbits about this dark period in world history. (Saturday and Sunday; always free)

100 The Grove Dr
Los Angeles, CA 90036

27. Muckenthaler Cultural Center

1201 W Malvern Ave, Fullerton, CA 92833

This Spanish Colonial Revival estate houses a cultural center that hosts live performances, exhibitions, and classes. (It also seems to be an incredibly popular wedding venue.) In the gallery now is a show of work from high school students in Fullerton. (Sunday only)

1201 W Malvern Ave
Fullerton, CA 92833

28. Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles

250 S Grand Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90012

The Grand Avenue location of the MOCA as well as the MOCA Geffen in Little Tokyo are participating in the free-admission day. The museums offers a look at contemporary art. Information on current exhibits is available on the museum’s website. (Saturday and Sunday)

250 S Grand Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90012

29. Museum of Latin American Art (MOLAA)

Museum of Latin American Art (MOLAA), Long Beach, CA 90802

The nation’s only museum dedicated to modern and contemporary art from Latin America is currently hosting an exhibit on Chicana muralist and artist Judithe Hernández. (Sunday only)

Museum of Latin American Art (MOLAA)
Long Beach, CA 90802

30. Museum of Tolerance

9786 W Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90035

The Museum of Tolerance 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,” says a summary on the Free-for-All site.

There’s an exhibit devoted to the Holocaust, another about Anne Frank, and interactive exhibits touching on the civil rights struggle in America and human rights around the world. (Sunday only)

9786 W Pico Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90035

31. Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County

900 W Exposition Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90007

The Natural History Museum has a spectacular garden, a giant whale skeleton suspended in an enormous glass enclosure that can be seen from the street, and a hands-on area where kids (and adults!) can learn about all the fauna that call LA home, from big gross bugs to rats and opossums.

The museum is offering free general admission and recommends reserving tickets in advance. Tickets can be reserved here. (Sunday only)

900 W Exposition Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90007

32. Orange County Museum of Art (OCMA)

850 San Clemente Dr, Newport Beach, CA 92660

OCMA offers a look at contemporary art and, right now, has on display works by artist Valentina Jager that involves large, hanging artworks “that immerse viewers in lush colors and fragile surfaces.” (Saturday and Sunday)

850 San Clemente Dr
Newport Beach, CA 92660

33. Palm Springs Art Museum

101 N Museum Dr, Palm Springs, CA 92262

It’s a bit of a drive, but who doesn’t love Palm Springs? On exhibit here is “Unselttled,” described as a “sweeping presentation of contemporary art by more than 75 artists living or working in the Greater West.” (Sunday only)

101 N Museum Dr
Palm Springs, CA 92262

34. Pomona College Museum of Art

330 N College Ave, Claremont, CA 91711

Located in quiet, quaint Claremont, this art museum is on a college campus and has on view an installation by Courtney M. Leonard of the Shinnecock Nation. There’s also Andy Warhol prints and much more. (Saturday and Sunday)

330 N College Ave
Claremont, CA 91711

35. Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden

1500 N College Ave, Claremont, CA 91711

This Pomona Valley botanical garden is a great place to amble around on a mild day. There’s a good gift shop and picnic tables out front (you cannot bring in your picnic). (Saturday only)

1500 N College Ave
Claremont, CA 91711

36. Santa Barbara Museum Of Art

1130 State St, Santa Barbara, CA 93101

Why not make a day out of a trip to a free museum? Up in Santa Barbara, the local museum of art has some hefty internationally-themed offerings: “a renowned Latin American collection; outstanding Greek, Roman and Egyptian antiquities; significant European and American works; and one of the finest Asian art collections on the West Coast.” (Saturday only)

1130 State St
Santa Barbara, CA 93101

37. Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History and Sea Center

211 Stearns Wharf, Santa Barbara, CA 93101

The natural history museum is in downtown Santa Barbara but the Sea Center sits right on the historic Stearns Wharf and offers hands-on exhibits and ocean views. (Saturday only)

211 Stearns Wharf
Santa Barbara, CA 93101

38. Skirball Cultural Center

2701 N Sepulveda Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90049

The Skirball Center describes itself as “a place of meeting guided by the Jewish tradition of welcoming the stranger and inspired by the American democratic ideals of freedom and equality.”

Those hoping to visit the attraction Noah’s Ark, take note: According to the Free-For-All website, “Noah’s Ark timed-entry, one-hour tickets are limited and distributed first-come, first-served.” (Sunday only)

2701 N Sepulveda Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90049

39. Sunnylands Center & Gardens

37977 Bob Hope Dr, Rancho Mirage, CA 92270
A courtyard with trees, cactii, and plants. Don Graham/Creative Commons

Sunnylands contains a lovely, 15,000-square-foot A. Quincy Jones-designed home that was built for Ambassador Walter and Leonore Annenberg. As such, it hosted foreign dignitaries and leaders foreign and domestic, including former presidents.

Now, it’s a kind of cultural and educational center and garden space with walking paths and desert landscaping. (Saturday and Sunday)

37977 Bob Hope Dr
Rancho Mirage, CA 92270

40. USC Fisher Museum of Art

823 W Exposition Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90089

Located on USC’s campus, this art museum is featuring an exhibit landscape paintings from the museum’s collections. (Saturday only; always free)

823 W Exposition Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90089

41. USC Pacific Asia Museum

46 N Los Robles Ave, Pasadena, CA 91101

The Pacific Asia Museum is actually in Pasadena, not near USC. It’s focused on promoting the arts and culture of Asia and the Pacific Islands. A current exhibit explores the “heretofore unexamined influence of Mexican art and artists on the development of art in China in the twentieth century.” (Both Saturday and Sunday)

46 N Los Robles Ave
Pasadena, CA 91101

42. Valley Relics Museum

7900 Balboa Blvd. C3 & C4 Entrance on, Stagg St, Van Nuys, CA 91406

This awesome museum, located in two airport hangars, has a huge collection of cool, nostalgic items and lumps everything all together in the best way. Rare historic photos and documents from the San Fernando Valley’s past are displayed alongside Valley-made vintage BMX bikes. (Sunday only)

7900 Balboa Blvd. C3 & C4 Entrance on, Stagg St
Van Nuys, CA 91406

43. The Wende Museum

10808 Culver Blvd, Culver City, CA 90230

This repository of incredible Cold War-era artifacts from the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe only recently moved into its new home in an old Culver City armory. On view now: Russian poster designs of the 1980s and early ’90s, (Saturday only; always free)

10808 Culver Blvd
Culver City, CA 90230

44. Zimmer Children's Museum by ShareWell

6505 Wilshire Blvd #100, Los Angeles, CA 90048

Kids have so few museums made just for them, but the Zimmer is one of them. With a kid-friendly focus and hands-on exhibits geared toward kids up to eight years old. There appears to be a ball pit—always a plus. The museum is closing its current location on February 10, so visit before it’s too late. (Sunday only)

6505 Wilshire Blvd #100
Los Angeles, CA 90048