A Day at the Museums

On Saturday (and Sunday), 20 LA County museums participated in the Free-For-All, opening their doors to citizens interested in viewing their offerings. As an avid museum attendee, it’s wonderful to see the museums full of people being wowed by the excellent exhibits on display. As an avid museum attendee it’s frustrating to see the museums full of people being wowed by the excellent exhibits on display.

Decorating sheep

My son and I headed to Pasadena in the early morning. USC’s Pacific Asian Museum is always a treat and this year, they had their Lunar New Year celebration to coincide with festivities. This year, they offered more craft booths for the kids. Besides the calligraphy booth, the kids could make beautiful lanterns or paper firecrackers. To celebrate the Year of the Sheep, a wooden cut-out was set up to hold New Year’s wishes.

Image from the 1965 installation in the courtyard of Liu Wencai's residence in Dayi County, China.

Image from the 1965 installation in the courtyard of Liu Wencai’s residence in Dayi County, China.

We haven’t visited the Pacific Asian Museum since last spring, so the new-to-us exhibits of THE FIRST WAVE: Modern and Contemporary Chinese Paintings  and THE RENT COLLECTION COURTYARD: Fifty Years were delightful to see. The latter was a collection of small clay sculptures that told the story and history of rent collection in feudal China. The former had artwork where artist mixed contemporary scenes with historical Chinese art. Both are a must-see along with the museum’s standard collections.

We then moved next door to the Pasadena Museum of California Art, one of the few museums in LA County I had never visited before. The museum had an exhibit by Armin Hansen in the main room. When I told my son, who loves to draw and wants to be an artist, that all the paintings and drawings in that room were by one person, his eyes got big and his jaw unhinged. It was impressive. Not just the number of pieces in the collection, but also their size and details.

Armin Hansen, Home from the Sea [detail], ca. 1919. Oil on board, 20 x 35 inches. Collection of W. Donald Head, Old Grandview Ranch, Saratoga, California.

Image Credit: Armin Hansen, Home from the Sea [detail], ca. 1919. Oil on board, 20 x 35 inches. Collection of W. Donald Head, Old Grandview Ranch, Saratoga, California.

While I am not a fan of contemporary art, I want my son to see that art isn’t just pictures on paper, so we headed over to MOCA. Unfortunately, the line to get into the museum was halfway to 4th Street along Grand Ave. I really couldn’t think of a valid reason to try to withstand pain to see art I’m not fond of, so we’ll go back later in the week. At this point, due to all the filming downtown and the set up for the evening’s Bring Back Broadway events, we were visually stimulated, not to mentioned just wiped out from walking up the stairs because Angel’s Flight is still closed down. *sniff sniff* There was just no way we’d make it to Exposition Park, Mid-City and Santa Monica and see everything.

Even though our plans for the day were shot by the crowds. That’s great for museums and I hope they all had great gains in membership numbers. Not so great for me with limited mobility as I was unable to stand in long lines to get into museums. But, since most of the participating museums offer free days anyway, I’ll just attend on those days when crowds are smaller. We will be visiting LACMA for the final day of SAMURAI: Japanese Armor. The kids are very excited to see that and it’ll be a interesting to see if they note that what we see in our anime is pulled from these pieces.

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