You probably know MOCA and The Broad, but have you visited these eight under-the-radar museums in downtown Los Angeles? Ranging from experimental art to Italian American heritage, these places will take you off the beaten path to immerse in LA’s diverse culture and history.
A relatively new addition to the DTLA Arts District, the A+ D Museum celebrates progressive architecture and design in everyday life. Through exhibitions, multi-disciplinary projects and educational programming, the museum tackles the urban and design issues that face our very own City of Angeles. See website for hours. Adults $7; Students and Seniors $5; A+D Members and Children, Free. 900 E. 4th St., downtown, 213.346.9734. aplusd.org
The African American Firefighter Museum (AAFFM)
Celebrating its 20th Anniversary this year, the AAFFM dedicates itself to sharing the heritage of African American firefighters. While visiting this premier cultural destination in downtown LA, you’ll find pictures, artifacts and other firefighter memorabilia on display. The AAFFM is completely volunteer and donation driven, and remains the first and only free standing African American Firefighter Museum in the U.S. Tu and Th 10 am-2 pm; Su 1-4 p.m. Free. 1401 S. Central Ave., downtown, 213.744.1730. aaffmuseum.org
An an extension of The Main Museum, Beta Main is true to its name, serving as a physical and conceptual space for experimentation. Expect to see high ceilings and original column and tile-work from the early 1900s during your visit. W-Su, noon-7 pm. Free. 114 W. 4th St., downtown, 213.986.8500. themainmuseum.org
Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising (FIDM) Museum & Galleries
Recognizing the creative arts and entertainment industries, the FIDM Museum collects fashion objects with outstanding design merit. Their collection comprises of 15,000+ objects, covering everything from high fashion to folk dress and non-Western garments. Tu-Sa, 10 am-5 pm. Free. 919 S. Grand Ave., Suite 250, downtown, 213.623.5821. fidmmuseum.org
Heritage Square Museum
Take a trip back in time to discover what everyday life in Southern California was like during the 19th Century. Heritage Square Museum brings history alive as you walk among its eight historic structures built during the Victorian era, including the William Perry Mansion. F-Su 11:30 am-4:30 pm. Adults $10; Seniors $8; $5 Children; Under 6 free. 3800 Homer St., L.A., 323.225.2700. heritagesquare.org
Italian American Museum of Los Angeles (IAMLA)
Located in the historic 1908 Italian Hall, the IAMLA shines a light on Southern California’s rich Italian roots. The museum, which houses 6,000+ artifacts, opened in 2016 to help serve the Italian community in LA, the fifth largest Italian American population in the U.S. Sample food and libations from award-winning Italian restaurants and wineries at IAMLA’s Taste of Italy on October 14. Tu-Su, 10 am-3 pm. Free. 644 N. Main St., downtown, 213.485.8432. italianhall.org
USC Fisher Museum of Art
Amid the extraordinary Exposition Park complex, which houses the likes of the Natural History Museum and the California Science Center, you’ll find the USC Fischer Museum of Art. Established in 1939 as the first ever art museum in LA, this hidden gem boasts 1,800+ objects spanning five centuries. Free. 823 Exposition Blvd., L.A., 213.740.4561. fisher.usc.edu
Step into the wondrous world of velvet painting at the wholly unique Velveteria museum. Curated by owners Caren Anderson and Carl Baldwin, this must-see stop in DLTA exhibits 420 paintings and is one of the only dedicated velvet painting museums in the world. Th-Su, 11 am-6 pm. $10. 711 New High St., downtown, 626.714.8545. velveteria.com
Article by Christina Wiese, adapted from WHERE Los Angeles magazine for SoCalPulse. Reprinted with permission.
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