Martial Arts History Museum's exhibits chronicle martial arts' role in two stories: the histories of prominent Asian countries, and the cultural influence of Asian countries on America. Through paintings, musical instruments, and theatrical displays, the nonprofit organization's exhibits cover the origins and growth of China, Japan, Korea, Thailand, and the Philippines. As they trace those histories, they also zoom in on major events such as the Boxer Rebellion and the relationship between martial arts and Asian arts such as Chinese opera and Japanese Taiko drumming.
Fittingly for a museum whose designers included artists from Disney and The Simpsons, the space also contains a media section, where a continuous showing of the three-part documentary Martial Arts in Film, TV and Print sets the stage for the surrounding exhibit. Portions of this section analyze pop-culture staples such as Kung Fu Panda and Avatar: The Last Airbender, and other parts display movie memorabilia such as Ralph Macchio's headband from The Karate Kid, though his socks are kept in a hidden location known only to the world's three richest kings. The museum also hosts frequent events and classes that range from sushi seminars to sword-cutting performances.
The Autry is California’s only museum and cultural center dedicated to the history, art, and stories of the American West. Located in Griffith Park, the Autry features special exhibitions, lively programs, and hands-on activities for kids.
A non-profit venue for and supporter of avant-garde contemporary art, LACE provides an artistic outlet unfettered by the demands of commerce. In its 30-year history, the organization has opened eyeballs to the work of more than 5,000 creative minds, including artists such as Martin Kersels, Nancy Rubins, and Johanna Went. Use your friend-level membership to preview exhibitions—such as the upcoming Los Angeles Goes Live: Exploring a Social History of Performance Art in Southern California, 1970–1983, opening in October 2011—before they're open to the public, giving you a small window of time in which to observe the art before children can attempt to smear it with peanut butter. Members also receive complimentary or reduced admission to special events such as the annual winter fundraiser and the LACE 10K, a steptacular art walk that immerses culture vultures in the greatest art form of them all, physical fitness.
In continual operation since 1965, the Hollywood Wax Museum captures the storied history of Tinseltown by recreating its most memorable faces and moments in lifelike detail. All rendered via intricate, multi-week processes, classic entertainers such as Marilyn Monroe and Charlie Chaplin pose alongside modern A-list stars such as Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt, Johnny Depp, and Morgan Freeman. Visitors can step up to each figure for interactive photo ops with their favorite stars. For its efforts, the museum has received a 2012 Heroes of Hollywood award and a 2008 Charlie Award in Entertainment Arts. The museum was also awarded a civic scroll in the 1970s for helping to restore “glamour and gaiety” to the city of Los Angeles—a mission it continues today even with Hollywood’s ever-changing celebrity landscape.
Moving picture began by depicting a horse running at full gallop, and has now evolved into visually stimulating films like Star Wars, Star Trek, and Planet of the Apes, which can all be seen at The Hollywood Museum. Visitors meander through a 35,000-square-foot, four-floor maze of more than 10,000 authentic movie props, costumes, and memorabilia. Previously a Prohibition-era speakeasy, the subterranean floor beckons patrons down Hannibal Lecter's The Silence of the Lambs jail corridor into the full cell used in the film, storing spine-tingling treasures such as his muzzling mask. First-floor doors open into Max Factor's restored makeup rooms, which border Cary Grant's Rolls-Royce and The Wizard of Oz's ruby slippers, which tempt visitors to slip them on and teleport to Kansas. Costumes, props, awards, and photos crowd the upper two floors, where Sylvester Stallone's Razzie for Worst Actor of the Century finds a home next to threads that once hugged Marilyn Monroe's legendary curves. In the past, rotating exhibits have showcased such items as a script and autographed poster from Slumdog Millionaire, duds modeled by the quick-stepping cast of High School Musical 3, and rows of awards for TV shows and particularly supercalifragilisticexpialidocious spelling-bee performances.
For more than 200 years, Madame Tussaud and her museums have delighted the masses with impressively detailed and meticulously maintained wax renditions of celebrities, musicians, action figures, and sports stars. Madame Tussaud began crafting wax figures at the tender age of 17 after learning the art from a skilled wax sculptor who hired her mother as a housekeeper. During the French Revolution, she furthered her craft by keeping an eye out for the freshest decapitated heads, which she used to make beautifully detailed death masks. When her mentor died, Madame Tussaud inherited his vast collection of wax figures and opened a London museum in 1835. Today, the Madame Tussaud wax-figure experience is interactive—you can hug them and high-five them—so bring a 20 megapixel digital camera and make a poster of yourself challenging Jackie Chan to a staring contest.