Exploring Los Angeles, CA Art Scene: Top Museums, Galleries, and Street Art for Newcomers

Updated on August 10th, 2023

Reading Time: 9 minutes

Los Angeles has long been a hub for creativity and innovation, and its art scene is no exception. From world-renowned museums to cutting-edge galleries and vibrant street art, the city offers a wealth of artistic experiences for both locals and visitors alike. 

Whether you’re new to the city and renting an apartment in Los Angeles, or a longtime resident who owns a home or looking to buy, this article will provide a helpful guide to the city’s thriving art scene.

Folding chairs sitting in front of projection screen on rooftop in Los Angeles _ getty

Explore LA’s Dazzling Museums

Los Angeles is home to world-renowned museums, with collections ranging from ancient artifacts to cutting-edge contemporary art.

Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA)

The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) is a prominent art museum in Los Angeles. It was founded in 1961 and is the largest art museum in the western U.S. The museum’s collection includes over 150,000 works of art from various cultures, ranging from ancient to contemporary art.

LACMA’s collection features a diverse range of art forms, including painting, sculpture, photography, decorative arts, and textiles. The museum’s most notable collections include American art, Latin American art, Asian art, Islamic art, and modern and contemporary art.

LACMA is housed in a sprawling complex of buildings in the Miracle Mile neighborhood of Los Angeles, and it includes outdoor sculptures, a research library, and various dining options. The museum is a popular destination for tourists and locals alike.

“Whenever I’m in the mood for a vibrant art scene, my top choice is Friday night Jazz at LACMA,” recommends Galerie Lakaye. “The bands never fail to impress, and the crowd is a delightful mix of people spanning various ethnicities and age ranges. It’s heartwarming to see young people, seniors, children, and even furry friends come together to have a good time. The atmosphere is both relaxed and lively, and I find myself returning as often as possible between April and November to dance, picnic, and soak up the infectious energy.”

The Getty Center

The Getty Center is one of Los Angeles’ most popular museums, located in the hills above Brentwood. Its permanent collection includes European paintings, sculpture, and decorative arts from the Middle Ages to the present, as well as photography and contemporary art. The museum’s architecture is also a highlight, a striking building designed by Richard Meier that offers breathtaking views of the surrounding hills and city. 

The Getty Center hosts rotating exhibitions that showcase important works of art from around the world. The museum also features beautiful gardens and outdoor sculptures, making it a popular destination.

The Norton Simon Museum

“Los Angeles boasts a dynamic art scene that teams with creativity, featuring an array of museums, galleries, and street art,” shares Varouján Art. “A standout destination among these is the Norton Simon Museum located in Pasadena. This renowned museum is a true gem, housing an extraordinary collection of art that spans cultures and centuries.”

The Broad

The Broad is a contemporary art museum located in downtown Los Angeles. The museum was founded by philanthropists Eli and Edythe Broad, and opened in 2015. The Broad’s collection includes more than 2,000 works of art from some of the most prominent artists of the past century, including Jeff Koons, Cindy Sherman, and Andy Warhol. 

The museum’s building, designed by architects Diller Scofidio + Renfro, is a striking example of contemporary architecture, with its distinctive “veil” made of fiberglass-reinforced concrete. The museum offers free general admission, making it accessible to a wide range of visitors. 

The Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA)

The Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) is a must-see destination for contemporary art enthusiasts in Los Angeles. 

With a collection that includes over 7,000 works of art from the 1940s to the present, MOCA is one of the world’s most important museums dedicated to contemporary art. Its permanent collection includes works by many of the most significant artists of the 20th and 21st centuries, including Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, and Cindy Sherman. 

MOCA hosts a variety of temporary exhibitions throughout the year, showcasing works by both emerging and established artists from around the world. MOCA has two locations in Los Angeles: MOCA Grand Avenue, located in Downtown Los Angeles, and The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA, located in Little Tokyo. Both locations are easily accessible by public transportation or car, and offer a unique perspective on the vibrant and exciting contemporary art scene in Los Angeles.

Must-See Galleries to Explore in Los Angeles

Los Angeles is home to a thriving art scene, with many galleries showcasing the works of local and international artists. Here are a few galleries worth checking out:

Hauser & Wirth 

Hauser & Wirth is a contemporary art gallery with locations in several cities around the world, including Los Angeles. The LA gallery is located in the Arts District, neighborhood that is home to many art galleries and creative businesses. The gallery is housed in a former flour mill, and the space has been beautifully restored and renovated to showcase a diverse range of contemporary art. 

Hauser & Wirth is known for its exhibitions of conceptual and abstract art, as well as its commitment to supporting emerging and mid-career artists. In addition to exhibitions, the gallery also hosts public programs, artist talks, and special events throughout the year. Whether you’re a seasoned art enthusiast or just beginning to explore the world of contemporary art, Hauser & Wirth is definitely worth a visit.


ADVOCARTSY is a gallery that takes pride in showcasing a varied collection of art created by artists of Iranian heritage. Our location, which is situated near the La Cienega Design Quarter, attracts a broad clientele that includes private collectors, art advisors, museums, and institutions. Whether you’re interested in attending our upcoming exhibition, “Alienation” by Foroozan Shirghani, opening on March 30th, or would simply like to stop by anytime between Wednesday and Saturday from 11am to 5pm, we welcome your visit.”

The Box 

The Box is a contemporary art gallery located in the Arts District of Los Angeles. Founded in 2007, the gallery is known for its exhibitions of avant-garde and experimental art, as well as its focus on historical and archival materials. The gallery’s exhibitions often challenge traditional notions of what art can be, featuring works that blur the boundaries between different media and genres. 

The Box has a particular interest in the history of Southern California art, and has mounted exhibitions that explore the region’s rich artistic legacy. In addition to its exhibition program, The Box also publishes books and other materials that document and contextualize the art on view. With its commitment to experimentation and its focus on historical research, The Box is a unique and fascinating addition to the Los Angeles art scene.

Art Unified Gallery

“For art aficionados seeking the finest art scenes in LA, Art Unified Gallery is a must-visit. This contemporary art gallery is located on Abbot Kinney, making it the only such establishment on this trendy street.”


The Gagosian Gallery is an international art gallery with a location in Beverly Hills, Los Angeles. The gallery was founded by Larry Gagosian in 1980, and has since become one of the most prominent galleries in the world, representing many of the most influential artists of the 20th and 21st centuries. 

The Beverly Hills location is housed in a sleek, modern building designed by architect Richard Meier, and features several exhibition spaces showcasing a diverse range of contemporary art. The gallery is known for its exhibitions of high-profile artists, including Pablo Picasso, Damien Hirst, and Jeff Koons, as well as its commitment to presenting cutting-edge and experimental works. 

Regen Projects

Regen Projects is a contemporary art gallery located in Hollywood, Los Angeles. The gallery was founded in 1989 and has since become one of the most respected and influential galleries in the world, representing many of the most important artists of our time. 

Regen Projects is known for its exhibitions of cutting-edge and experimental art, with a focus on video, installation, and performance-based works. The gallery has a reputation for taking risks and supporting emerging artists, and has been instrumental in launching the careers of many notable artists over the years. 

Kohn Gallery 

Kohn Gallery is a contemporary art gallery located in Los Angeles that features a diverse range of works from established and emerging artists. The gallery was founded in 1985 by Michael Kohn and has since become known for its innovative exhibitions and programming. Kohn Gallery represents a wide range of artists working in a variety of media, including painting, sculpture, photography, and video. 

The gallery has a particular focus on artists who challenge traditional artistic boundaries and explore new forms of expression. Kohn Gallery regularly participates in art fairs and exhibitions around the world and has a strong online presence, making it accessible to art lovers everywhere.

These are just a few of the many galleries worth visiting in Los Angeles. Be sure to check out local listings and exhibitions to discover even more.

The Vibrant and Evolving Street Art of Los Angeles

One of the most exciting aspects of the city’s art scene is its street art, particularly in neighborhoods like the Arts District and Downtown LA. Street art in Los Angeles is a reflection of the city’s vibrant and multicultural communities, and often addresses social and political issues.

The Arts District

The Arts District in downtown Los Angeles is known for its vibrant and ever-changing street art scene. From large-scale murals to smaller pieces hidden in alleyways, the neighborhood is a mecca for street art enthusiasts. Many of the works are commissioned by local businesses or property owners, while others are created by individual artists or collectives. 

The Arts District’s street art reflects the neighborhood’s history and culture, as well as current social and political issues. The area has become a popular destination for street art tours, and visitors can often see artists at work, adding to the colorful and dynamic landscape. The Arts District’s street art scene is constantly evolving, with new works popping up all the time, making it a must-visit destination for anyone interested in contemporary art and urban culture.

“The streets of East LA are dotted with murals that pay tribute to influential figures and celebrate the area’s rich culture. A must-see attraction is the newly built 6th Street Viaduct, which offers breathtaking views of the city and serves as a lovely walkway between the Arts District and Boyle Heights,” says LAMusArt. “Starting in June, the Los Angeles Music and Art School will be presenting an exciting new season of affordable live performances at their Courtyard Stage, featuring flamenco dancers, comedians, art exhibitions, and local bands.”

Melrose Avenue

Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles is home to a colorful and dynamic street art scene. The area is particularly known for its murals, which can be found on the sides of buildings and walls throughout the neighborhood. Many of the murals on Melrose Avenue are commissioned by local businesses or property owners, and reflect the unique character and energy of the neighborhood. 

The street art on Melrose Avenue is constantly evolving, with new works appearing regularly. Some of the most well-known street artists in the world have created works in the area, including Banksy and Shepard Fairey. 

Venice Beach

Venice Beach in Los Angeles is home to a vibrant and eclectic street art scene. The area is known for its colorful murals, which can be found on walls and buildings throughout the neighborhood. 

The street art on Venice Beach is often created by individual artists or collectives, and reflects a range of styles and themes. Some of the murals address social and political issues, while others are simply whimsical and fun. Many of the murals are influenced by the beach culture and surf scene that is so prevalent in the area. In addition to murals, visitors to Venice Beach can also see a variety of other types of street art, including wheat-paste posters, stencils, and graffiti. 

Aerial shot of the famous Santa Monica Beach and Pier

Local Los Angeles artists

Artist Housing 

“For over a decade, Artist Housing in DTLA has served as a crucial launching pad for budding and seasoned filmmakers and musicians. By providing a comfortable and affordable space for them to stay, Artist Housing offers a chance for newcomers to acclimate themselves to the Los Angeles atmosphere, acquaint themselves with the local culture, and scout potential locations before making a long-term commitment to an expensive rental. In Hollywood, networking is everything, and Artist Housing bridges the gap between location and connections by offering an array of amenities to help residents succeed in their respective fields.”

Art for LA

Arts for LA, the preeminent advocate for arts in Greater Los Angeles, is teaming up with Mycotoo and Art Share L.A. to present the fourth annual Pop-Up Art Show on March 25th, 2023. This highly anticipated event will showcase the work of more than 100 talented artists who specialize in themed entertainment experiences, including those from Disneyland, Universal Studios, and Warner Bros. The exhibition will be held at Art Share L.A. on Saturday, March 25th, 2023, from 6:00 PM to 9:00 PM, with a VIP hour beginning at 5:00 PM. During the VIP hour, attendees can enjoy a special performance by artist V.C.R, as well as complimentary cocktails from Batch22, free pancake art, and appetizers.”

Discovering the Rich and Exciting Los Angeles Art Scene 

The art scene in Los Angeles is a diverse and dynamic reflection of the city’s multicultural communities and creative spirit. From the world-class museums and galleries to the vibrant and evolving street art scenes in neighborhoods like the Arts District, Melrose Avenue, and Venice Beach, Los Angeles has something to offer for art lovers of all kinds. 

Whether you’re interested in ancient artifacts or cutting-edge contemporary works, there is no shortage of art to explore in the city for newcomers. The top museums, galleries, and street art destinations highlighted in this article are just a starting point for discovering the rich and exciting art scene in Los Angeles. So, whether you’re a new local or a visitor, take some time to explore the city’s art offerings and immerse yourself in its vibrant cultural landscape.

Learn more about Los Angeles:

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Los Angeles Breweries that Raise the Bar

10 Fun Facts About Los Angeles: How Well Do You Know Your City?

11 Unique Things to Do in Los Angeles for New Locals

10 Most Affordable Los Angeles Suburbs to Live In

9 Cities Near Los Angeles to Buy or Rent in this Year

If you are represented by an agent, this is not a solicitation of your business. This article is for informational purposes only, and is not a substitute for professional advice from a medical provider, licensed attorney, financial advisor, or tax professional. Consumers should independently verify any agency or service mentioned will meet their needs. Learn more about our Editorial Guidelines here.

Marissa Crum

Marissa is part of the content marketing team and enjoys writing about real estate trends and home improvement. Her dream home is a contemporary-style house with ample outdoor space.

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