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.
From its beach-adjacent headquarters at John Wayne Airport in Santa Ana, OC Helicopters whisks clients away on aerial tours that deliver a rare vantage point for familiar southern California places and Orange County beaches. The owner and head pilot mans air-conditioned and reliable Robinson R44 helicopters and other aircraft that can comfortably seat three or four passengers in chairs that provide a 180-degree view. Customers choose from a number of aerial tour routes, veering south over Laguna Beach's luxury golf courses and sprawling houses or hovering near Crystal Cove and Newport Beach. Helicopters can also head northwest and take the Surf City Tour, which traces the shoreline while supplying an aviator's eyeful of Dana Point's population of surfers as they come ashore to lay their bronze eggs. OC Helicopters also offers custom tours.
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.
A surfing museum might be a rare occurrence, but a surfing museum established by a non-surfer is virtually unheard of. If it was going to happen anywhere, it would be Huntington Beach, where surfers have been taking to the ample West Coast waves for nearly a century. Today, the waters of Huntington Beach host more than 50 surfing competitions, and its streets boast a Surfing Walk of Fame and vibrant public art honoring the ancient Hawaiian pastime. Museum founder Natalie Kotsch, fell in love with surfing culture after moving to Huntington Beach and established the museum to share the rich history of International surfing with visitors to her adopted city. The Huntington Beach International Surfing Museum, while modest in size, houses a carefully curated collection of permanent and rotating exhibits all year long. Visitors can peruse the rare items on display at their leisure.
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.
The Laguna Art Museum began in 1918 as a small gallery in a converted cottage, where local artists would display and sell their pieces to the public. As the exhibits and collections grew larger over the next several decades, the founders moved the gallery into a larger, custom space, and eventually transformed it into a museum celebrating the development of Californian art from the 19th century to the present. The museum currently boasts a permanent collection of more than 3,500 works, as well as rotating exhibits that track the evolution of artistic expression.
To further its mission of spreading public appreciation for local art, the museum hosts informative lectures and open-house receptions. The museum’s Carole Reynolds Art Research Library also intrigues readers with more than 5,000 books, many of which chronicle the history of Californian art.