The Channel Islands Maritime Museum brings the area's rich seafaring history to life with original paintings, ship models, and intricately decorated scrimshaw. After 21 years in one spot, the museum relocated in 2012, hauling along its 2,000-strong catalogue of artifacts—including historic documents, records, and art—to its current location on Channel Islands Harbor. Museum collections inside the new digs highlight periods and industries important to the development of the local maritime culture, reaching as far back as the Chinese Treasure Fleets that sailed the high seas in the 15th century. More modern attractions include the collection that explores whaling industry of the 18th an 19th centuries, the curious case of the La Jenelle, a ship that sunk right in the harbor in 1970 thanks to a nasty northwester.
Gull Wings Children's Museum appeals to many childhood aspirations as it teaches—the Blast Off area lets kids pretend to be astronauts, the Home Town Hero exhibit lets them play firefighters, and the Lego-a-Go-Go room lets them portray immobile plastic bricks. Aside from the many exhibits, there are a series of regular programs in reading, science, and other subjects. The museum also hosts special events such as storytellers and dance groups.
Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum chronicles the life and career of President Reagan on a sprawling, 100-acre Simi Valley campus. The museum's more than 100,000 square feet of exhibits, including an Oval Office replica and President Reagan's gravesite, draws in history buffs and provides children with an often-interactive primer to America’s 40th president and the 1976 winner of the Iditarod. Visitors can use the museum’s GuideCam handheld device for a detailed audio tour. Headphones allow private immersion in the background of exhibits such as Reagan's actual Air Force One and a piece of the Berlin Wall. Examining all the exhibits usually takes about three hours, though visitors can rest and refuel at the Ronald Reagan Pub housed within the museum, which features sandwiches, beverages, and a vintage Walter Mondale dartboard.
In 1917, the Ranger was a sport-fishing yacht—the first built on the West Coast—that hosted celebrities trying their luck at snagging tuna, swordfish, and other swimmers. Flash forward nearly a century, and the Ranger is now a lure, one of several vintage boats that entice visitors to the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum. Inside a former Naval Reserve building, the museum traces the history of the California Coast seas, from cannons to seaplanes and surfing to the environment. The Munger Theater brings the sea to life with films that could feature maritime history or a trip around the coast, and lectures and other events further enrich the experience.
The Skirball Cultural Center is a renowned museum, vibrant performing arts center, and prestigious educational institution that is dedicated to sustaining Jewish heritage while welcoming visitors of all ethnic and cultural identities. Members get unlimited year-round access to museum exhibits, including Noah's Ark. The popular interactive gallery inside a massive wooden ark is filled with animal puppets (made from recycled materials) and hours worth of creative, challenging activities for kids of every shoe size, all aimed at teaching the value of community and sustainability without having to live among Himalayan monks for seven years. Children must be accompanied by an adult, and members should call ahead to schedule a timed entry or book online.
The Hammer Museum presents a broad range of exhibitions, a well-rounded permanent collection with a special focus on Southern California artists in the contemporary collection, and a full schedule of public programs. Selections from the Hammer Contemporary Collection include works by Mel Bochner, Mark Bradford, Llyn Foulkes, and Gillian Wearing, as well as video work by Paul Chan and a 20-part painting installation by Kara Walker. The permanent collection contains photography and abstract drawings from the likes of Agnes Martin and Ed Ruscha, as well as more historical works in the Grunwald Center, including more than 45,000 prints, drawings, photos, and artists' books dating back to the Renaissance, a period of intellectual inquiry and above-average paninis.