Los Angeles is home to a world-class collection of museums and cultural attractions. Best of all, you can view masterpieces across L.A. County for free! Read on for two dozen L.A. museums with free admission.
African American Firefighter Museum (AAFFM): Housed in the historic Fire Station #30 on Central Avenue, the AAFFM opened in December 1997 as the first and currently only free standing African American firefighter museum in the United States. The first floor contains vintage fire apparatus, stories and pictures of pioneering African American L.A. firefighters. The second floor gallery features pictures, artifacts and other memorabilia of African American firefighters from around the country.
The Annenberg Space for Photography: The first solely photographic cultural destination in the Los Angeles area, The Annenberg Space for Photography features state-of-the-art, high-definition digital technology as well as traditional prints by some of the world's most renowned photographers and a selection of emerging photographic talents.
The Broad: A spectacular contemporary art museum built by philanthropists Eli and Edythe Broad, The Broad is home to the 2,000 works of art in the Broad collection, which is among the most prominent holdings of postwar and contemporary art in the world. General admission to The Broad is free. Advance reservation tickets are often fully booked, but an onsite standby line is available at the museum every day except Mondays, when the museum is closed.
California African American Museum (CAAM): Located at Exposition Park, the CAAM mission is to research, collect, preserve, and interpret for public enrichment the history, art and culture of African Americans with an emphasis on California and the western United States.
California Science Center: Through hands-on experiences, visitors will learn about human inventions and innovations, the processes of living things, and much more. Admission to the Science Center's permanent exhibition galleries is free (excluding IMAX and Special Exhibits). Timed reservations for individuals to view the Space Shuttle Endeavour are required on weekends, holidays, and peak dates.
Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising (FIDM): The FIDM Museum collections currently hold over 15,000 objects covering more than 200 years of history. Most of the collections are dedicated to fashionable women's dress, as well as folk dress and non-Western garments, accessories, auxiliary ephemera such as periodicals, patterns, and photographs; and interior textiles, swatch books, and embroidery samples.
Flight Path Museum & Learning Center: Located adjacent to the LAX airfield, the Flight Path Museum & Learning Center is the only aviation museum and research center situated at a major airport and the only facility with a primary emphasis on contributions of civil aviation to the history and development of Southern California.
Fowler Museum at UCLA: Part of UCLA’s School of the Arts and Architecture, the Fowler Museum explores global arts and cultures with an emphasis on works from Africa, Asia, the Pacific, and the Americas—past and present.
Getty Center: Situated on a hilltop in Brentwood, the spectacular Getty Center houses European paintings, drawings, sculpture, illuminated manuscripts, decorative arts, and photography from its beginnings to the present, gathered internationally. Admission to the Getty Center is always free. Parking is $15 per car, but reduced to $10 after 3 p.m. No reservation is required for parking or general admission.
Getty Villa: A museum and educational center dedicated to the study of the arts and cultures of ancient Greece, Rome, and Etruria, the Getty Villa houses 44,000 works of art from the museum's extensive collection of antiquities, of which over 1,200 are on view. Admission to the Getty Villa is always free, but a ticket is required for admission. Tickets can be ordered in advance, or on the day of your visit, at www.getty.edu visit or at (310) 440-7300. Parking is $15 per car, but reduced to $10 after 3 p.m.
Griffith Observatory: One of L.A.’s greatest cultural attractions, the Griffith Observatory offers spectacular views from the Pacific Ocean to Downtown L.A. from its perch on Mt. Hollywood in Griffith Park. Opened to the public in 1935, the Griffith Observatory is renowned as a national leader in public astronomy, and a beloved gathering place for visitors and Angelenos alike. Admission to the Observatory's grounds, exhibits, and telescopes is always free. There is a modest fee to see the programs in the Samuel Oschin Planetarium.
Hammer Museum: Located at the corner of Wilshire and Westwood Boulevards in Westwood Village, the Hammer Museum champions the art and artists who challenge us to see the world in a new light, to experience the unexpected, to ignite our imaginations, and inspire change.
Hollywood Bowl Museum: Located at the bottom of Peppertree Lane, the museum celebrates one of L.A.'s most iconic music venues by showcasing the Bowl's influence on music and entertainment, and its role in shaping the careers of some of the most famous performers of the 20th and 21st centuries. Guests are invited to visit the museum before concerts to enhance and enrich their Bowl experience.
Homestead Museum: Situated on a six-acre site in the City of Industry, the Homestead Museum features the Workman House, an 1870s country home constructed around an 1840s adobe built by William and Nicolasa Workman; La Casa Nueva, a 1920s Spanish Colonial Revival mansion noted for its architectural crafts; and El Campo Santo, one of the region's oldest private cemeteries, containing the remains of Pío Pico, the last governor of Mexican California, and many other prominent pioneer families.
ICA LA: This new museum of contemporary art in the burgeoning Arts District organizes dynamic exhibitions in all mediums and across disciplines, complemented by outstanding educational programs for people of all ages. The museum aims to make contemporary art relevant and accessible to all art and culture fans. Be sure to check their calendar of weekend events for non-traditional BBQs and family fun.
La Plaza de Cultura y Artes: Renowned as one of the nation's premier centers of Mexican American culture, LA Plaza's interactive exhibits and dynamic programs invite visitors to explore as well as contribute to the ongoing story of Mexican Americans in L.A. and beyond. Located near the site where Los Angeles was founded in 1781, LA Plaza's 2.2-acre campus includes two historic and newly renovated buildings (the Vickrey-Brunswig Building and Plaza House) surrounded by 30,000 square feet of public garden.
Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust (LAMOTH): Located in Pan Pacific Park near The Grove, LAMOTH is the oldest Survivor-founded Holocaust museum in the United States. The Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust presents the history of the Holocaust as objectively as possible. For this reason its exhibits present as many original artifacts as possible and display them in a way that allows them to tell the individual stories they contain.
The Main Museum: When complete, The Main Museum will include a variety of exhibition galleries, studio spaces, a rooftop plaza including an amphitheater and cafe, and a restaurant. True to its name, Beta Main is a space for testing and learning in anticipation of the creation of The Main. Throughout all phases of The Main’s development, Beta Main will mount exhibitions, artist residencies and public programs.
Marciano Art Foundation: Established by Maurice and Paul Marciano, the Marciano Art Foundation offers public access to the Marciano Art Collection through presentations of rotating, thematic exhibitions housed in a former Scottish Rite Masonic Temple. The collection contains works by well-established, mid-career and emerging artists from the 1990s to present.
The Nethercutt Collection: The Nethercutt Museum showcases more than 130 of the world’s greatest antique, vintage, classic and special interest automobiles including many top winners of the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. Spanning four floors, the collection also includes automobile mascots, antique furniture, clocks and watches, and one of the world's finest collections of Mechanical Musical Instruments.
The Paley Center for Media: Located in the heart of Beverly Hills, the Paley Center offers the public access to an international collection of over 160,000 programs covering almost 100 years of television and radio history, including news, public affairs programs and documentaries, performing arts, children's programming, sports, comedy and variety shows, and commercials. The Paley Center also hosts daily screenings and numerous public programs throughout the year. Free admission. Suggested donation is $10 for adults; $8 for students and seniors; and $5 for children under 14.
Travel Town Museum: Located in the northwest corner of Griffith Park. The Travel Town Museum focuses on the history of railroad transportation in the western United States from 1880 to the 1930s, with an emphasis on railroading in Southern California and the Los Angeles area. The railway collection includes 43 full-scale railroad engines, cars and other rolling stock. For just $2.75 per passenger, the entire family will enjoy the delightful Travel Town Railroad, a miniature train that circles the museum.
Valley Relics Museum: A visit to the Valley Relics Museum is like stepping into a time machine for a tour of the San Fernando Valley. Your guide is Tommy Gelinas, who opened the museum in October 2013 at an industrial park in Chatsworth. Gelinas' collection has grown to more than 20,000 rare artifacts, including vintage neon signs, classic cars, rare documents, photos, yearbooks, memorabilia, menus, art, clothing, vintage BMX bicycles, and much more. The Valley Relics Museum is open every Saturday from 10 a.m. - 3 p.m. Admission is free. NOTE: The museum is scheduled to open in a new, expanded space at Van Nuys Airport in October 2018.
Wende Museum: Founded by Justinian Jampol, an L.A. native and scholar of modern European history, The Wende Museum of the Cold War houses a collection of more than 100,000 artifacts, archives and personal histories that is recognized as an unparalleled resource for insight into the Eastern perspective of the Cold War.