Dr. Adalbert and Eva Fenyes’s 1906 Beaux-Arts mansion served as a haven and gathering place for local musicians, artists, writers, and scientists for decades. In 1970, in an effort to ensure this salon atmosphere would live on, their descendants transferred the family mansion, its gardens, and scores of original furnishings and artwork to the Pasadena Museum of History. Today, the more than 85-year-old museum fills the Fenyes Estate with tours, exhibits, and a range of events as part of its mission to preserve and display Pasadena's history and culture.
Docents lead tours through the rooms of the National and California Historic Landmark mansion, which once served as the Finnish Consulate. (Nearby, the Finnish Folk Art Museum resides in the estate’s former sauna and guesthouse.) The history experts also conduct regular spotlight tours of specific collections that embody local high-society life at the turn of the 20th century.
In the History Center Galleries, the staff curates rotating exhibits on local history. Outside, visitors can wander the verdant landscaped gardens that separate the History Center Galleries from the Finnish Folk Art Museum and prevent staff members from reaching each other with volleys of water balloons.
Teeming with curios and game-changing treasures, The Folk Tree specializes in the one-of-a-kind work of artisans and craftspeople from Mexico and cultures around the world. Dress up desks, end tables, and museum-quality cinder blocks with wooden carvings, clay figurines, pottery, and other objects d'art made with expert craftsmanship and high-level sorcery. Memorialize beloved armadillos of your childhood with an elaborately painted carving from the family of Pedro Ramirez ($68.50 and up), or make conversations with your walls seem normal by decorating them with coconut masks ($16.50). Shadow boxes ($26.50 and up) integrate three-dimensional tableaus and written text to satirical effect, and black-clay lanterns (starting at $9.50) combine an alluring sheen with tamed fire. T-shirts are also available to help keep customers as artfully ornamented as their décor.
In America's melting pot of delicious cultures, Asians and Pacific Islanders would most likely be the bay leaf, the crucial ingredient that gives the recipe its robust flavor. Pacific Asia Museum, which first opened its doors in 1971, is dedicated to the multi-layered cultures of Asia and the Pacific Islands. Its collection contains more than 15,000 pieces of historical art dating back more than 4,000 years. Learn about vital Asian history through current exhibits such as Japan in Blue and White, which explores how the use of blue pigment on white ceramics, textiles, and woodblock prints was first used for practical reasons but soon became a distinctively Japanese art style. Permanent collections include more than 800 Japanese, Chinese, and Pacific Island graphic-art prints motivated by culture, politics, religion, and scenes from Ghost Busters.
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.
Photographer Stuart Townsley uses a trained eye and high-tech equipment to capture memories into frameworthy prints and digital art, using 10 of LA's most attractive landmarks as backdrops. The famed local sites where he sets up camp—such as the roaring Pacific Ocean under Santa Monica Pier or the 1930s architecture and picturesque fountain of Union Station—elegantly complement subjects' smiling visages. His shutter snaps hundreds of times during each photo shoot, immortalizing the faces, poses, and secret handshakes of families and well-behaved pets. Well-versed in state-of-the-art retouching gear, Stuart unfurls his astutely edited creations onto glossy prints, canvases, and online albums.
Stuart's advice on what to wear and bring to shoots, garnered through 12 years of professional experience, conveniently resides online to aid in the selection of appropriate outfits for every mother, father, child, or hamster.
Since its inception in 1979, The Museum of Contemporary Art has devoted itself to post-1940 artwork, a focus that sets it apart from all other Los Angeles museums. Its permanent collection harbors more than 5,000 art objects, encompassing media from video installations and documentary photography to pop art. Works from renowned artists such as Roy Lichtenstein, Jean-Michel Basquiat, and Diane Arbus share gallery space with pieces from up-and-coming artists across the museum’s three facilities.
To complement its permanent collection, the museum hosts rotating temporary exhibits, such as the current Amanda Ross-Ho exhibit, Teeny Tiny Woman, which incorporates architectural elements and large-scale paintings. The museum staff also augments these displays with events, such as their summer concert series in Geffen Plaza, which explores the intersection of music and art like a guitar decoupaged with pages from DaVinci’s journal.