Orange County Museum of Art's chief curator, Dan Cameron, takes pride in the artists his state has produced from the 20th century to the present. He and his staff showcase a diverse range of modern and contemporary Californian artists as well as art from around the world in an array of exhibitions and a permanent collection. Each exhibition uncovers a different facet of the art world. Past exhibitions have explored modern art between Picasso and Pollock, the changing language of art and design in the mid-20th century, and works by Ansel Adams and Andy Warhol.
Staffers also immerse visitors in their collections through after-hours events and guided tours of the museum's galleries. They also host events for families, during which kids can make artwork in the style of the exhibited artists or attend monthly shows with short films, music exploration, and live entertainment.
Easily recognizable by the 10-story black cube that looks more like a crashed alien spaceship than a source of clean energy, the museum has been using science-based exhibits to educate and inspire its young visitors for more than 15 years, with a rotating cast of hands-on, interactive exhibits, including MythBusters: The Explosive Exhibition.
The colorful B-17 Flying Fortress known as Fuddy Duddy once shepherded General Dwight D. Eisenhower across the Pacific near the end of World War II. Today, the massive plane is on display at the Lyon Air Museum on the west side of Orange County's John Wayne Airport. The museum has a curated selection of authentic aircraft and rare vehicles, most of which trace their lineage back to World War II. A 1939 Mercedes-Benz G4 Offener Touring Wagon was actually owned and used by Adolph Hitler until its seizure by the French army at Bertschesgaden. Museum tours are led by volunteer docents throughout the day and last about an hour; along with the planes and cars, you'll encounter Jeeps, motorcycles, and a 1941 Dodge pickup truck.
It’s not every day that you can witness 30 million dollars all in one room. But at Marconi Automotive Museum & Special Events Venue, visitors move through an extensive array of rare roadsters, muscle cars, and Formula cars valued at eight figures. After a successful, self-made career in business, founder Dick Marconi decided to give back, donating his personal collection of automobiles to create the museum. Each specimen reflects a piece of racing lore; you'll find historic racecars piloted by Keke Rosberg, Mario Andretti, and Michael Schumacher.
The museum serves a multi-purpose—to share Marconi’s glittering display of high-performance vehicles with the public, and to support local charities. Proceeds from admissions and special events at the museum go toward the Marconi Foundation for Kids, which supports Big Brothers Big Sisters and the Make-A-Wish Foundation, among other children's groups. The museum’s yearly Fight Night fundraising event draws stars such as Oscar de la Hoya and the dashboard hula dancer.
While wandering the Museum of Latin American Art's permanent collection of works?from artists native to 20 Latin American countries?it might come as a surprise that the space was once home to a roller-skating rink and a silent-movie studio. Its transformation into one of the country's only museums dedicated to modern and contemporary Latin American art was the work of physician, philanthropist, and patron of the arts Dr. Robert Gumbiner. He acquired the properties and founded the museum in 1996, revamping the Hippodrome into galleries alive with Latin American music, paintings, and video.
Since that time, the museum has doubled in size, adding a 15,000-square-foot sculpture garden and expanding its collection to include masters such as Rufino Tamayo, Roberto Sebasti?n Matta, Los Carpinteros, and Tunga. The site now serves as a beacon of Latin American culture, showcasing artists who made names for themselves in their own countries but may not be well known in the United States.
Beyond the eye-catching exhibitions, which have been featured in the Los Angeles Times, the museum offers educational programs and events such as concerts, film showings, and children?s art camps. Each is an outgrowth of the museum?s mission to stimulate the intellect and cultivate an appreciation for Latin America?s contributions to the world of art.
Rancho Los Alamitos enjoys a spot on the National Register of Historic Places for a couple reasons—the site is the birthplace of the native Tongva people, and it has also played an important role in local history since 1790. That’s the year Manuel Nieto took control of a 300,000-acre parcel of land as a reward for serving the Spanish crown on an expedition to California. Over the years, the land saw subdivision—in 1833, it was divvied up among Nieto’s heirs into five ranchos, some 25,500 acres becoming Rancho Los Alamitos. Around this time, the Nietos erected a still standing adobe house, most likely for ranch staff and horses. Fast-forward nearly a hundred years and Florence Bixby is cultivating a lush garden. From native plants and cacti to geraniums and roses, her garden incorporated aspects of ranch life without fully relinquishing a European vibe. Along with that garden, vestiges of the Tongva Village and the homestead’s former inhabitants live on today next to a renovated Rancho Center and Barns Area. The ranch is still home to barnyard animals—chickens, rabbits, horses—and thanks to Bixby’s heirs, the 7.5 remaining acres of Nieto’s once-colossal estate now welcome the public with exhibits about its history and that of the Tongva tribe.