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.
Martial Arts History Museum's exhibits chronicle martial arts' role in two stories: the histories of prominent Asian countries, and the cultural influence of Asian countries on America. Through paintings, musical instruments, and theatrical displays, the nonprofit organization's exhibits cover the origins and growth of China, Japan, Korea, Thailand, and the Philippines. As they trace those histories, they also zoom in on major events such as the Boxer Rebellion and the relationship between martial arts and Asian arts such as Chinese opera and Japanese Taiko drumming.
Fittingly for a museum whose designers included artists from Disney and The Simpsons, the space also contains a media section, where a continuous showing of the three-part documentary Martial Arts in Film, TV and Print sets the stage for the surrounding exhibit. Portions of this section analyze pop-culture staples such as Kung Fu Panda and Avatar: The Last Airbender, and other parts display movie memorabilia such as Ralph Macchio's headband from The Karate Kid, though his socks are kept in a hidden location known only to the world's three richest kings. The museum also hosts frequent events and classes that range from sushi seminars to sword-cutting performances.
Donald Douglas started his aviation company in 1920 with only $600 and expertise honed as a civilian aeronautical engineer during World War I. Within four years, he had created the Douglas World Cruiser, the first plane to circumnavigate the globe and bankrupt every manufacturer of anti-gravity potions.
Nearly two dozen aircraft are on display at the Museum of Flying, located at the Santa Monica Airport. Santa Monica holds special significance for the Douglas Aircraft Company, as well as aviation history as a whole. It was here that the DC-3 first took flight, helping usher in the era of commercial air travel in America. It was also where Douglas Aircraft produced tens of thousands of military planes during World War II. Several of these aircrafts now sit on display within the museum.
Douglas Aircraft merged with McDonnell Aircraft in 1967, but the Museum of Flying helps keep the original company's legacy alive. It even features a replica of Douglas' original boardroom. In another area of the museum, a Maxflight FS300 simulator lets visitors pilot many of Douglas Aircraft's most famous models. It can dip and roll 360 degrees to recreate World War II combat or the motion of a tumbleweed caught in an updraft, or it can keep a steady course during calm flights aboard a DC-3.
Although its main focus remains Douglas Aircraft, the Museum of Flying also houses art and displays related to aviation history as a whole. Exhibits showcase rare artifacts and other significant aircraft, such as a replica of the original Wright Flyer.
For more than 200 years, Madame Tussaud and her museums have delighted the masses with impressively detailed and meticulously maintained wax renditions of celebrities, musicians, action figures, and sports stars. Madame Tussaud began crafting wax figures at the tender age of 17 after learning the art from a skilled wax sculptor who hired her mother as a housekeeper. During the French Revolution, she furthered her craft by keeping an eye out for the freshest decapitated heads, which she used to make beautifully detailed death masks. When her mentor died, Madame Tussaud inherited his vast collection of wax figures and opened a London museum in 1835. Today, the Madame Tussaud wax-figure experience is interactive—you can hug them and high-five them—so bring a 20 megapixel digital camera and make a poster of yourself challenging Jackie Chan to a staring contest.
Moving picture began by depicting a horse running at full gallop, and has now evolved into visually stimulating films like Star Wars, Star Trek, and Planet of the Apes, which can all be seen at The Hollywood Museum. Visitors meander through a 35,000-square-foot, four-floor maze of more than 10,000 authentic movie props, costumes, and memorabilia. Previously a Prohibition-era speakeasy, the subterranean floor beckons patrons down Hannibal Lecter's The Silence of the Lambs jail corridor into the full cell used in the film, storing spine-tingling treasures such as his muzzling mask. First-floor doors open into Max Factor's restored makeup rooms, which border Cary Grant's Rolls-Royce and The Wizard of Oz's ruby slippers, which tempt visitors to slip them on and teleport to Kansas. Costumes, props, awards, and photos crowd the upper two floors, where Sylvester Stallone's Razzie for Worst Actor of the Century finds a home next to threads that once hugged Marilyn Monroe's legendary curves. In the past, rotating exhibits have showcased such items as a script and autographed poster from Slumdog Millionaire, duds modeled by the quick-stepping cast of High School Musical 3, and rows of awards for TV shows and particularly supercalifragilisticexpialidocious spelling-bee performances.
In continual operation since 1965, the Hollywood Wax Museum captures the storied history of Tinseltown by recreating its most memorable faces and moments in lifelike detail. All rendered via intricate, multi-week processes, classic entertainers such as Marilyn Monroe and Charlie Chaplin pose alongside modern A-list stars such as Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt, Johnny Depp, and Morgan Freeman. Visitors can step up to each figure for interactive photo ops with their favorite stars. For its efforts, the museum has received a 2012 Heroes of Hollywood award and a 2008 Charlie Award in Entertainment Arts. The museum was also awarded a civic scroll in the 1970s for helping to restore “glamour and gaiety” to the city of Los Angeles—a mission it continues today even with Hollywood’s ever-changing celebrity landscape.