You’ve been to the beach and the zoo, done play dates in the park and ventured to an amusement park or two. With July and August still ahead, what’s left to do? Museums provide a great destination – particularly on unbearably scorching days – with fun activities and cultural enrichment for all. Many offer special summer programs you should check out before they exit with autumn’s arrival.
Tried, True and New
From July 6 through Aug. 16, Kidspace Children’s Museum (kidspacemuseum.org) will celebrate its 40th anniversary with “40 Days of Fun.” Delve into themed activities such as “Nature,” “Slime,” “Water” and “Bubbles” (turn to the Calendar section for further details). Themed projects in the museum’s art studio include “Creating Memories” in July and “Fine Art Foodie” in August. The Imagination Workshop offers an engineering challenge in July and storytelling through mixed media in August.
Science is the name of the game at a pair of interesting summer exhibits at Discovery Cube LA (la.discoverycube.org). The big-name exhibition is “Wild Kratts: Creature Power!,” which takes visitors on an exciting, educational journey through several “habitats” with popular PBS Kids stars Martin and Chris Kratt through Sept. 8. Cube visitors can also investigate “Science + You,” which revolves around the science of human health. Experiment in the test kitchen, learn to use a centrifuge, collect germ cells using a magnetic antibody wand and deposit them into white blood cells. “Science + You” closes Sept. 2.
Mosaic and mythology are on display at the Getty Center and Getty Villa (getty.edu). At the Getty Villa’s mosaic workshop from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. on select Saturdays in July and August, families, under the tutelage of brick artist Andy Bauch, can help recreate a mosaic from the Villa’s collection and make their own small mosaic to take home. Families can “build a beast” at the Getty Center from 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m. select Saturdays, Sundays and Tuesdays in July and August. The San-Francisco-based art collective Mobile Arts Platform will host a pop-up print lab where you can learn to do screen and block printing and make real or imagined creatures roam across the page.
The long-awaited opening of the Cayton Children’s Museum (caytonmuseum.org) is here! Formerly the Zimmer Children’s Museum, it’s now located at a great new facility at Santa Monica Place. The Cayton has nearly twice as much space as the Zimmer did. It’s big enough for a full-size fire truck, helicopter and Coast Guard rescue boat, all repurposed for hands-on adventures. The museum’s discovery-based exhibit wings focus on themes of kindness, compassion, community, hospitality and respect. Kids can visit a veterinary clinic, climb a canopy of ropes and immerse themselves in 360-degree digital scenes of nature. The always fun (and messy) Art Crawl for babies has made the move from the Zimmer to the Cayton, too.
This summer, Skirball Cultural Center (skirball.org) is giving families more time to enjoy the Family Art Studio and the Archaeology Dig. While these fave attractions typically are open only on weekends, kids will be able to dig the Dig Thursdays through Sundays and visit the Art Studio Tuesdays through Sundays through Aug. 18. The Skirball is also reprising its Family Amphitheatre Performance Series, with Saturday and Sunday shows July 6-Aug. 18. The lineup includes such family favorites as the Story Pirates July 14, Rhythm Child July 27, Aaron Nigel Smith Aug. 11 and Nathalia Aug. 17. Little ones can enjoy the ever-popular Noah’s Ark while parents and older kids will enjoy the small exhibit of Andy Warhol’s work and the larger retrospective on African American photographer Kwame Brathwaite (both up through Sept. 1).
Blaze a trail to the Autry Museum of the American West (theautry.org) Tuesdays-Fridays (except July 4) through Aug. 2 and get busy with summer drop-in activities from 10:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Geared for ages 5 and older, the drop-ins feature art-making opportunities, panning for gold, gallery activities and projects in the “Investigating Griffith Park” exhibit. Don’t miss the “Imagined West Studios” play area set in the cinematic West, Autry “detective kits” and themed scavenger hunts. Parents, teens and tweens might also want to check out the vibrant “Indian Country: The Art of David Bradley” exhibit.
In addition to its year-round Stories in the Afternoon, Family Days and Art Adventure programs, the Norton Simon Museum (nortonsimon.org) will host Thursday Summer Fun through July 25. Each Thursday (except July 4) from 1:30-3:30 p.m., kids ages 4-10 can create an art project relating to artwork in one of the museum’s galleries. On July 11, the project will be a summery pop-up card inspired by 19th century paintings of beach scenes. On July 25, kids can construct their own whimsical vehicles after viewing William Crutchfield’s prints of trains, ships and airplanes. The Crutchfield exhibit “Air Land Sea,” which opens July 19, showcases fanciful lithographs of planes, trains and ships that could easily interest the entire family. The Norton Simon also sets up chess sets in its Sculpture Garden from 5-7:30 p.m. Saturdays during August and September. Visitors of all skill levels and ages can face off in a friendly game, with U.S. chess expert Jay Stallings on hand to share helpful advice.
Mind Your Body
Get moving with “Outdoor Art Moves” at the Hammer Museum (hammer.ucla.edu) this summer. At 11 a.m. and noon July 28 and Aug. 25, choreographer/movement director Zoe Rappaport will lead movement activities relating to art, nature and the creative process in the museum’s Franklyn D. Murphy Sculpture Garden. Enjoy free popsicles before or after the program and bring a blanket to picnic on the lawn. The museum will also continue its monthly Family Flicks screenings with “The Baby-Sitters Club” July 21 and “The Secret of NIMH” Aug. 11. The ongoing Gallery Games program takes place at 11 a.m. and noon July 7, while the dance-themed Pop-Up Studio happens from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Aug. 4.
Families can get down (as in Downward-Facing Dog) at the Fowler Museum (fowler.ucla.edu) with “Yoga for Little Travelers” July 21 and Aug. 18 from 1-3 p.m. Yoga teacher Alex Reed leads these 45-minute imaginative sessions, which are recommended for ages 4 and older. Space is limited and the first 10 participants to RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org will receive a guaranteed spot. The July 21 session will be followed by a guided tour of the “Guatemalan Masks” exhibit, and the “India’s Subterranean Stepwells” exhibit will be explored after the Aug. 18 class. Other Fowler Families summer events include 1 p.m. drop-in workshops on Australian bark painting July 28 and clay-animal sculpting Aug. 11. A “Giant Kites of Guatemala” workshop from 1-3 p.m. Aug. 3 is geared for ages 8 and older and requires advance registration at fowlerfamilieskites.eventbrite.com.
Miracle Mile Discounted
Everyone loves a bargain, and this summer, the museums of the Miracle Mile have one for their visitors. Get $2 off general admission by visiting more than one museum along the 1/3-mile stretch of Wilshire Boulevard – including the Petersen Automotive Museum, Craft Contemporary, Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the La Brea Tar Pits and Museum – on the same day. Note that while the Petersen and the Tar Pits are open daily, the Craft Contemporary is closed Mondays and LACMA is closed Wednesdays.
On the second floor of the Petersen Automotive Museum (petersen.org), check out the Rob and Melani Walton Discovery Center. Geared to young auto fans, the center offers craft activities, hands-on workshops and the “Cars” Mechanical Institute. The supercharged “Hollywood Dream Machines: Vehicles of Science Fiction and Fantasy” exhibit (which is open through spring) will delight car and film buffs of all ages.
LACMA (lacma.org) is home to the Andell Family Sunday workshops, “Urban Lights” and the “Metropolis II” car track installation. The museum also has an ongoing family art-making space in the Boone Children’s Gallery and a story time in the Korean and Chinese galleries on Fridays at 2 p.m. through July 26. Through Sept. 15, an exhibit on painter Frank Stella underscores the importance of painting between the lines.
Walk over to the La Brea Tar Pits (tarpits.org) to find a whole new (prehistoric) world. Just remember that the cool “Ice Age Encounters” show only takes place at 11 a.m. and 1 and 2 p.m. Fri.-Sun. and that you should purchase your ticket for this show in advance. The Ice Age mee-and-greet, free with the price of admission, occurs only on weekends at 3 p.m.
The Craft Contemporary (cafam.org), which updated its name from Craft and Folk Art Museum earlier this year, currently has on view “The RIDDLE Effect,” an intriguing exhibition of imaginative sculptural pieces that late local artist John T. Riddle made out of found objects. It should appeal to the whole family.
So, away you go on a tour of SoCal museums that should take you at least through September.
Michael Berick is Calendar Editor of L.A. Parent.