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.
What was once the personal collection of Pasadena residents Bob and Arlene Oltman is now a three-story institution with more than 10,000 square feet of gallery space. The Pasadena Museum of California Art features art, architecture, and design from all over the state and aims to explore cultural issues that are unique to California.
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.
Kidspace's Galvin Physics Forest is just the latest tool in the museum's quest to make learning kid-friendly. Kids learn about pressure by launching bottle rockets or about momentum by guiding a ball through a rollercoaster they constructed. The interactive exhibits mirror the entire organizations’s hands-on approach to education.
Businessman Norton Simon juggled many endeavors—the Canada Dry corporation, Hunt-Wesson Foods, Max Factor cosmetics—but NPR cites his art collection as the entrepreneur’s greatest accomplishment. Renoir and Cézanne represent Simon’s early interests, while a Mughal ivory chess set reflects a shift in taste that occurred on his honeymoon in India.