Art Works Blog

Blue Star Museum Road-trip: Pacific Coast Highway Edition

The Pacific Coast Highway doesn't just have beachfront views, striking cliffs, and dazzling blue water for you to see. It's also home to a number of Blue Star Museums! These museums, conveniently located near the highway, will give you chance to learn some history, visit local cities, and enjoy a day with the arts! So, in case you need a break from sand on your feet or wind in your hair, take a detour and stop by one of these museums to see what they have to offer.  

Pacific Island Ethnic Art Museum Long Beach, CA

Located in Long Beach, the Pacific Island Ethnic Art museum seeks to represent the artwork from the diverse cultures of the Pacific Islands. Their permanent collection, formerly the private collection of Dr. Robert Gumbiner, has a focus on Micronesia, but includes more than 1,000 works of art and artifacts from the Federated States of Micronesia and Fiji, Hawaii, Kiribati, and Marshall Islands. Among several other locations are Northern Marianas Islands, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, and Samoa. See a Tapuanu Mask from the Mortlock Islands, travel photos from Dr. Gumbiner’s trips, the museum’s outdoor sculpture garden, or watch as a professor from the University of Hawaii does tattoo artwork. The museum is committed to honoring past and contemporary artforms, so there is always something new to see.

California Heritage Museum Santa Monica, CA

It seems fitting that the home of the California Heritage Museum is in the historic Roy Jones House, settled in the middle of the “Dog Town” Santa Monica neighborhood, where skateboarding was born and surfing was popularized. Only a block away from the beach, the museum promotes the diversity and rich history of California through exhibitions on fine art, decorative art, and folk art. Their permanent exhibition includes photographs of the town’s history, while past rotating exhibitions have included shows curated by Guy Dill, dedicated to Navajo Tiles, and delving into the history of skateboarding. For the next few days, their Splash exhibit is open, with new exhibits sure to follow.

Festival of Arts Laguna Beach, CA

Festival of Arts has a long, vibrant history in Laguna Beach, as reflected by the museum’s permanent collection. A significant part of this history includes the famous Pageant of the Masters, Festival of Arts' theatrical re-creation of classical and contemporary works, where real people pose to look exactly like their counterparts in the original works of art. You can catch Pageant from July 7 to August 31 this summer or just enjoy other art works in its collection, daily raku workshops live music, and chatting with artists during live art demonstrations, all of which encourage the appreciation, study, and performance of the arts.

Museum of Latin American Art Long Beach, CA

As the only museum in the United States dedicated to modern and contemporary Latin American art, 2016 is the year to visit the Museum of Latin American Art, celebrating its 20th anniversary with its largest ever permanent collection exhibition. Collections of new media and U.S. Latino and Chicano art are being added to the collection that already features work by Dario Escobar, Pájaro (Juan Vicente Hernández), Marco Maggi, and Liliana Porter. Other featured artists include Esterio Segura and Flavio Garciandia. Also, the museum’s unique building, which was once a beloved roller-skating rink called the Hippodrome, is located in Long Beach’s rapidly developing East Village Arts District. Ample free parking is available.

Toyota USA Automobile Museum Torrance, CA

Three old style Toyota cars lined parked inside the

Toyota USA Automobile Museum. Photo source: Moto Club4AG Miwa/Flickr Creative Commons

Toyota USA Automobile Museum is a museum dedicated to showcasing vintage Toyota vehicles. Notable for grease monkeys and history buffs alike, the museum explores and honors the history of Toyota Motor Corporation – a history that dates back to 1957, telling the story of how a small company developed into a top-selling automaker company. Whether it happens when you’re looking at a 1959 Toyopet Crown Custom 4-Door Sedan, a 1967 2000GT 2-Door Coupe, or a 1990 Lexus LS 400 4-Door Sedan, visitors are sure to see how the museum embodies the spirit of Toyota, as they take a break from a car journey of their own.

Western Museum of Flight Torrance, CA

Dedicated to preserving and displaying aircraft history and artifacts of Southern California's aviation heritage, Western Museum of Flight lets their visitors get hands-on with their exhibits. The over 300 models include numerous wind tunnel models like the Northrop "Alpha", the Northrop A-9A, and hundreds of plastic models. You will be able to see (and touch!) the Warbirds, aircraft and target drones, piston and jet aircraft engines. Not to mention, aircraft components, aircraft ejection seats, World War II instruments and aircrew accessories. Visitors will get close to an extensive model aircraft collection – all of which have been an integral part of aviation history.

Laguna Art Museum Laguna Beach, CA

Laguna Art Museum is dedicated to collecting California art that ranges across all periods and styles fromworks that date back to the 1800s to works that have been completed within the last year. The permanent collection includes work by the late Los Angeles artist, Peter Krasnow whose brightly colored, abstracted paintings contrast the darkness of the WWII time period in which he worked. Representing a more contemporary piece of California history, the museum’s current rotating exhibit called, Emerging Masters 2016, features work by recent grads from Laguna College of Art and Design’s MFA program.

Hammer Museum Los Angeles, CA

Exterior of Hammer museum.

Hammer Museum. Photo: Tony Hisgett/Flickr Creative Commons

Even though Hammer Museum is a public art unit of UCLA’s School of Arts and Architecture, it’s only 17 minutes off of the Pacific Coast Highway. Even more exciting, the Made in L.A. 2016: a, the, though, only exhibition is taking over the entire museum for the summer. This exhibition lets visitors experience the complexity of what it means to be an artist in Los Angeles.  Featuring artists such as Rafe Esparza, Wadada Leo Smith, and Aram Saroyan among many others, the exhibit comprises works dance, fashion, literature, music, and film as well as visual art.

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