With today's Groupon, $15 gets you a ticket to Madame Tussauds, the world-renowned, interactive wax-figure museum. 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.
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.
For the staff of Zimmer Children's Museum, teaching kids to express themselves goes hand-in-hand with teaching social values, like community responsibility, cultural sensitivity, and environmental sustainability. The museum sprawls across two floors filled with interactive exhibits, including Rhythms of the World, where kids can explore the sounds of instruments from foreign countries, and the S. Mark Taper Aid and Rescue Center, where they can learn disaster-response skills and climb aboard an authentic Coast Guard raft. At Discovery Airport, they can take the helm of a private plane.
In addition to exhibits, the museum engages small visitors with free programs ranging from story time and open art-studio sessions to the Culture Club: a gathering that introduces kids to international music and food. Seasonal classes taught by arts educators and early-childhood-development specialists promote multi-sensory learning, and the bilingual Jugando Grande program teaches kids how to giggle and play in English and Spanish.
Exhibitions and lifelike dioramas containing more than 150 vehicles sprawl across Petersen Automotive Museum's 300,000-square-foot confines, illustrating the impact of the automobile on American culture. On the first floor, permanent collections elucidate with detailed displays covering the role of the car in Los Angeles and motion picture, the history of alternative power, and the favorite engine sounds of each president. The Hot Wheels Hall of Fame parades more than 1,000 Hot Wheels vehicles, original models, and design sketches. Five galleries on the second floor shelter rotating exhibits, and the third floor's May Family Discovery Center introduces tykes to the fundamental functions of cars with interactive driving stations. Patrons wander among the extensive displays individually or join tours for groups, schools, car clubs, or families of parking cones.
A non-profit venue for and supporter of avant-garde contemporary art, LACE provides an artistic outlet unfettered by the demands of commerce. In its 30-year history, the organization has opened eyeballs to the work of more than 5,000 creative minds, including artists such as Martin Kersels, Nancy Rubins, and Johanna Went. Use your friend-level membership to preview exhibitions—such as the upcoming Los Angeles Goes Live: Exploring a Social History of Performance Art in Southern California, 1970–1983, opening in October 2011—before they're open to the public, giving you a small window of time in which to observe the art before children can attempt to smear it with peanut butter. Members also receive complimentary or reduced admission to special events such as the annual winter fundraiser and the LACE 10K, a steptacular art walk that immerses culture vultures in the greatest art form of them all, physical fitness.