All Posts

Check Out LA's Hidden Museums

Pensive young adult sits in grand room gazing upward

If you’ve called yourself a downtown Los Angeles local, chances are you’ve already seen the city’s most “essential” museums. Places like LACMA, The Broad, MOCA, The California Center, and The Hammer Museum stand tall among to city’s must-see standouts, but they aren’t the only options around.

If you’d rather check out a less trafficked and more niche museum during your free time, you can do so -- once you find out where they are. That’s where we come in today. We’ll be going over some under-the-radar alternatives for your museum-going pleasure, so read on, and add whichever options fit your fancy to your list of hidden museums to check out when you’re on the town.

The Underground Museum

This museum, located on West Washington Boulevard, has underground right in the name. Tucked away in Arlington Heights, the Underground Museum might not be the first place you’d expect to find such a caliber of art and expression, but thanks to Noah Davis, who founded the museum in 2012, the working class neighborhood in which it resides also plays home to some thought-provoking works of art. Many of these pose questions about the “black experience,” and include photography, sculptures, paintings, and other fine methods of artistry.

Exhibits here include impressive displays like Non-Fiction, the “second of a series of more than a dozen exhibitions curated by Noah Davis before his untimely passing in 2015.” The exhibit, like much of what The Underground Museum has to offer, touches on the “brutality and the deaths of innocent young black men, women, and children at the hands of both law enforcement and ordinary citizens,” a “love letter to the victims of racial violence, and the families that endured.”

Admission the the Underground Museum is always free, and the museum is open from Wednesdays to Sundays, 12:00PM to 7:00PM. You can view the current calendar of events here, and, if you’re interested in helping support the museum, may do so through this link. The museum also runs an online bookstore, through which you can order their magazine and other specialty items.

The Bunny Museum

Did you know that for the past 20 years, there has been a museum dedicated solely dedicated to celebrating bunny rabbits? The Bunny Museum on Lake Avenue opened in 1998 and is celebrating their 20th anniversary this year. The brainchild of Candace Frazee and Steve Lubanski, this truly unique offering is one that will appeal to fans of quirky curiosities of all stripes.

Find more than 28,000 rabbit themed items here, including what Timeout LA describes as “ freeze dried pet bunnies.” The museum also includes items from antiquity, Rose Parade float bunnies, wooden eggs with bunny art, chimes, crafts, and various artworks dedicated to the majestic rabbit (check out this clip of Elijah Wood exploring the museum for an in-depth look).

The Bunny Museum is open Monday to Saturday from 12:00PM to 6:00PM, and Sunday from 12:00PM to 5:00PM. This year the most exciting attraction will be the 20th anniversary Bunny Bash, held on March 20th. get to the museum at 7:00PM and enjoy refreshments and attractions among the company of similarly inspired bunny rabbit aficionados.

Arcana: Book On The Arts

Straddling the line between bookstore, museum, and gallery is Arcana, the vast collection of texts located on Washington Boulevard. This longtime purveyor of rare tomes moved from Santa Monica back in 2012 and is still going strong today. Since 1984 they’ve been peddling new and out-of-print copies of books covering photography, art, design, architecture, fashion, cinema, and music. For any lover of the arts, this is a must-see location with more than 100,000 titles to marvel.

They’ve made the cut on Design Notes’ list of Favorite Bookstores In Los Angeles, with the blog stating that:

“The bright, light-filled space is lined with tall black metal shelves, creating what Lee calls a forest of books. In addition to having 100,000 books to discover, Arcana hosts book signings and panel discussions, as well as a popular Book of the Day feature on its blog.”

The description is certainly an appealing one, but a trip to this space is the best way to see the wonder for yourself. You can visit Arcana Tuesday to Sunday, 11:00AM to 7:00PM. Remember to reach out to them if there’s a specific title you’re looking for, as they’ll do what they can to help you track it down and add it to your own collection.

The Los Angeles Police Museum

The LAPD has a long and storied history, which you can learn more about at the Los Angeles Police Museum in Highland Park. This spot will take you through the “always exciting, frequently controversial” story of the force, from the periods of near unchecked violence and lawlessness to the more recent era of relative peace. Photographs, souvenirs and more are available here, along with original vehicles used in heists and a plethora of other artifacts.

You can visit the museum Tuesday to Friday, from 10:00AM to 4:00PM, and on the 3rd weekend of the month from 9:00AM to 3:00PM. Be sure to check out their events page for goings-on that will help both the police department and groups throughout the greater Los Angeles community, along with the memorial bricks for insight into the distinguished members of the force and donors who made the museum possible. Perhaps you’ll even become a donor yourself?

Oran Z’s Pan African Black Facts & Wax Museum

Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard seems a fitting spot for a wax museum dedicated to showing representations of famous African-Americans, but don’t be misled, Oran Z’s Pan African Black Facts & Wax Museum is more than just a wax museum, it’s a celebration of black history and culture, complete with, as LA Weekly puts it:

“Hundreds of thousands of items pertaining to African-American history are displayed in the anonymous building, drawn from Oran Z's private collection, including authentic slave shackles, dolls, books and signed sports memorabilia.”

You’ll need to call in advance to reserve a tour of the premises, but will be treated to a “return to blackness” and a view at some lesser-seen works that will leave you in awe of the black experience in America.

Atelier Apartments For Rent In Los Angeles

For access to all of these obscure and underground museums, a place in the city that’s all your own is a must. Take a look at fine communities like Atelier for a contemporary, feature-filled living experience that will serve as the perfect complement to a tour of Los Angeles that’s off the beaten path.