Explore Los Angeles History Along the Arroyo

By Michael Berick

Los Angeles Things to Do

Pretend you’re a cop flying in a police helicopter. PHOTO COURTESY MUSEUMS OF THE ARROYO

From noon-5 p.m. May 15, the six Museums of the Arroyo (MOTA) host their annual MOTA Day event, inviting the public to see a blacksmith ply his trade, dance like they did during Victorian times and discover the history of crime solving at the LAPD. Each of the museums offers a unique look into the past, and free admission, too.

At The Autry’s Historic Southwest Museum Mt. Washington Campus (234 Museum Dr., L.A.), you can examine rare Pueblo ceramics and, from 1-4 p.m., view traditional cordage demonstrations using native plants and participate in hands-on activities that highlight the relationship we have with nature.

Enjoy live performances and refreshments at the historic Gamble House (4 Westmoreland Place, Pasadena). Children can do craft projects and plant a seed to take home. The Gamble House, which is celebrating its 50th year on the National Registry of Historic Places, will also showcase its newly restored gardens. If you want to check out a real jail cell, see what a “paddy wagon” looks like or climb aboard a (non-operational) police helicopter, you can do all of that at the Los Angeles Police Museum (6045 York Blvd., L.A.). The museum also holds a treasury of LAPD memorabilia that goes all the way back to the late 1880s. Not many museums give you a chance to pose for a free booking photo without actually getting arrested.

The Heritage Square Museum (3800 Homer St., L.A.) gives the public a glimpse into life during Victorian times. There will be traditional blacksmith and woodcarving demonstrations along with a hand-cranked sewing machine in action. Kids can play with Victorian toys, do crafts and have “pump and splash” water fun, while everyone can learn some Victorian dance steps.

To coincide with its exhibits on quilts and contemporary woven artwork, the Pasadena Museum of History (470 W. Walnut St., Pasadena) will host a variety of family-friendly craft activities. Visitors can discover what a “bobbinwinder” is and take tours of the recently remodeled Beaux Arts-style Fenyes Mansion and the Finnish Folk Art Museum.

Few museums are as homemade as the Lummis Home and Garden (200 E. Avenue 43, L.A.). Charles Lummis, who helped found the Southwest Museum, built this house on his own between 1896 and 1910. For MOTA Day, there will be a fine arts marketplace, kids’ games and crafts and self-guided tours of the house and gardens.

Besides free admission, the museums will have free shuttle service so you can visit each institution without going crazy trying to drive and park at each one. Visit www.MuseumsOfTheArroyo.com for further details.

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