PIEAM houses a huge assortment of ethnic art from all over Melanesia, Polynesia, Micronesia, and Hypernesia. The museum was founded by the late medical doctor and Oceania enthusiast Robert Gumbiner, who wanted to preserve the various sculptures, paintings, jewelry, carvings, and tools forged by Pacific Islanders. Tour the facility for a day with a friend, significant other, or sentient shadow or opt for an ultimate membership, which gets two adults and any kids or grandkids under 18 a full year of access to the museum's chambers, as well as eight guest passes, a complimentary copy of The Birds of Yap, and recognition as a founding member in PIEAM promo materials. Click here for current and upcoming exhibitions.
Aquarium of the Pacific
Betty’s favorite foods are shrimp, clams, and squid. She’s a little over a year old. She has brown hair, and her nickname is “Banshee,” because she wails when she doesn’t get her way.
Named for Aquarium of the Pacific sponsor and legendary actress Betty White, she’s a recent addition to the aquarium’s BP Sea Otter Habitat. Betty was discovered in early 2012, a mere pup, without a mother. The staff at Aquarium of the Pacific nursed her back to health until October, when she was well enough to join her friends in the otter habitat.
The otter habitat is just one of 19 habitats at Aquarium of the Pacific, which also includes 32 focus exhibits celebrating the diverse wildlife of the Pacific Ocean. In the June Keyes Penguin Habitat, more than 12 tuxedo-clad Magellanic penguins waddle around a rocky beach where guests can spy them nesting, eating, and practicing dance routines with Dick van Dyke, and a crawl space below their swimming pool provides a closer look at the birds as they go for a dip. Outside in Shark Lagoon, some 150-plus sand tiger, zebra, and whitetip reef sharks bare their menacing grins. But in the shallow touch pools, gentle bamboo and epaulette sharks discredit stereotypes by allowing visitors to pet them.
For those more interested in the science of the sea, the Ocean Science Center helps visitors explore oceanic trends through its Science on a Sphere exhibit. The globe, a creation of the National Oceanic and Atmosphere Administration, measures six feet in diameter and displays films about subjects such as rising sea levels and the connection between ocean health and human health.
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.
In the early 1960s, the Long Beach Kiwanis Club realized their community's history was slipping away, unpreserved. So they took matters into their own collective hands by founding the Historical Society of Long Beach with a museum in Bixby Knolls. The organization's staff went to work collecting photographs, documents, and other artifacts that chronicle Long Beach's past. To date, society members past and present have assembled around 27,000 photographic prints, 3,000 slides, and 1,400 volumes of newspapers covering events from as far back as 1897. The society also maintains a collection with maps, artifacts, and even interviews of notable citizens.
Rotating exhibits grant peeks into this historical collection. Historical Society of Long Beach also hosts special events, including an annual history tour of the city?s two oldest cemeteries, one of which is a favorite vacation spot for the world's richest ghosts, special conferences, and First Fridays.