Museums open for free this weekend

It often seems like having fun in Los Angeles comes at a price. But this Saturday and Sunday, local museums will waive their admission fees and allow guests to explore their rich and varied exhibits. Hosted by the Museum Marketing Roundtable, 2013’s Museums Free For All Weekend promises to captivate both the casual observer and the art connoisseur on a tight budget.

Open door policy · The Museum Free For All Weekend, sponsored by the Museum Marketing Roundtable, is a time for students and families alike to explore art and culture throughout the city. - Courtesy of MOCA Communications

Open door policy · The Museum Free For All Weekend, sponsored by the Museum Marketing Roundtable, is a time for students and families alike to explore art and culture throughout the city. – Courtesy of MOCA Communications

With most museums open all weekend, there is plenty of time to sample Los Angeles’ finest. Both located in the heart of Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Museum of Art and the Museum of Contemporary Art are two popular museums for Angelenos.

LACMA houses more than 100,000 pieces and is the largest art museum in the Western United States. Even though certain exhibits, such as the Stanley Kubrick exhibit, are not included with the general admission ticket, LACMA’s wares are must-sees. One notable collection is Jim Shaw’s Dream Drawings. Jim Shaw, the artist behind the drawings, utilizes multimedia and also incorporates art from the museum’s permanent Drawing Surrealism exhibit. These pieces are housed in LACMA’s new art space, the Broad Contemporary Museum.

Just a bus ride away from campus, MOCA features  contemporary artist Ben Jones’ collection, entitled Ben Jones: The Video, which features surrealistic pieces emphasizing technology and pop-culture symbols. In addition to its permanent exhibits, MOCA also features Jason Schmidt’s collection of Los Angeles artists’ photographs. This collection of portraits might act as an appetizer for the acclaimed photography that is featured in the Annenberg Space for Photography.

Even though the Annenberg Space for Photography is always free, it would be a shame to miss their current, thought-provoking exhibition, no strangers: Ancient Wisdom in a Modern World, which highlights indigenous cultures.

Another good stop might be the Museum of Tolerance, which was founded in 1993 with the intention of provoking change and encouraging acceptance across cultures. Its current exhibit, Para Todos Los Niños: For All the Children, illustrates the discrimination that Latino families faced in Southern California in the 1940s. Permanent exhibits include a haunting Holocaust section and the Tolerancenter, a multifaceted display that addresses the issue of intolerance in daily life. The entire museum provides a unique experience and casts a harsh light on the way people treat each other, yet ultimately shows that there is hope for a more harmonious society.

Serving as a nice break from the heavy themes addressed in the Museum of Tolerance, the California Science Center, conveniently located in Exposition Park adjacent to USC, includes entertaining and interactive exhibits. Though timed tickets are required to see the space ship Endeavour, there is plenty to explore for free. Besides the Air and Space exhibits, other permanent exhibits include Ecosystems, the Science Court (which features demonstrations),  Creative World and the World of Life. Both the World of Life and Ecosystems showcase the planet’s marvels as well as the resiliency and diversity of life on Earth. Make sure not to miss Creative World, the Science Center’s tribute to invention, innovation and technology. Though this hands-on museum is touted as a family destination, it will still prove entertaining and informative for adults as well as children.

Aside from these spectacular destinations, there are many other museums to pique patron’s interest and satisfy a desire for culture and art. For a more classical destination, visit the Getty Center and the Getty Villa, both of which are always free, though the Villa requires online tickets in advance. After learning about Greco-Roman culture at the Villa, stop by The Autry National Center of the American West. After visiting The Autry’s extensive collection of Native American art and artifacts, continue viewing local works at the Craft and Folk Art Museum. And for more art based on Los Angeles, the Pasadena Museum of California Art will be open as well. Other art stops include the Santa Monica Museum of Art and the University Art Museum at Cal State University Long Beach.

Not all museums, though, are free just this weekend. One notable example is the the Museum of Natural History, located right by the California Science Center; entrance is always free for students with a USC ID.