Calling all Moms! Feeling cabin fever? Why not get those curious kiddos out of the house to explore some culture? Say no to couch potato and scoot on over to the newly expanded and revitalized Los Angeles County Museum of Art on Wilshire’s Miracle Mile, which has lately become one of the most kid-friendly play areas in the city.

Sure, you can always do a traditional museum walkthough, but if your kids are looking for a more interactive experience than they might get from just peering at paintings and circling statues, be sure to put the five fantastic exhibits below on your list of museum must-sees!

  • Light Bright: Urban Light, the marquee installation fronting Wilshire Boulevard symbolizes LACMA’s recent renaissance in so many ways, but your kids will simply enjoy this forest of lamp posts for being a sort of magnificent maze. Start your LACMA walk here, or save it for the end of a long day. The lamps come on at dusk, and the spectacle of this brilliant display will light up your kids’ faces from the inside!
  • Pretend City: Metropolis II, an epic construction from Chris Burden (who also created Urban Light), is the block city you build with your kids combined with a toy-car race track combined with a model train, and it works! Four times a day Friday-Sunday, a human climbs into this construction (which is located on the ground floor of the Broad Contemporary Art Museum building), to turn on the trains and trolleys and send the 1,100 toy cars on their zooming journey around a freeway-esque maze. Insiders say that it’s best to arrive a little before showtime to get the best vantage point and to experience the intense and noisy awakening of this miniature urban sprawl. But even when Metropolis II is in repose, your kids will find this construction fascinating, pointing out cleverly designed skyscrapers and peering under bridges to find the 10-plus trains enmeshed in the mixed-media sculpture. For kids and adults alike, Metropolis II is simply a must-see!

  • Heavy Metal: Located adjacent to Metropolis II within BCAM is one of Richard Serra’s classic late-career steel gargantua, this one a tightly wound, all-embracing wave that stands in soothing and surrounding opposition to the controlled chaos of Metropolis II. As your kids enter the sculpture, tell them to walk the perimeter of the space and look up, noting how the sculpture folds in on them and then back out.
  • Rock of Ages: The official title of this piece is Levitated Mass, but your kids will simply call it the “Big Rock,” and rightly so. Artist Michael Heizer worked on the design of this piece for decades, and that seems reasonable given that it seems likely to be a Los Angeles landmark for centuries to come. Stroll down the byway beneath the boulder for a change in perspective, and then circle around for a family photo op up against L.A.’s most remarkable megalith.

  • Noodle Rain: Last but not least, don’t miss Penetrable in Neon Lime by Jesús Rafael Soto up in the plaza adjacent to the Ahmanson building. Penetrable is a temporary exhibit and will be retired in a couple of years, so put this one on your kiddo to-do list now. Constructed of rubber tubing attached to a metal ceiling frame, kids love to hide out inside this cube of visual and tactile stimulation. It’s nearly impossible to tempt little kids out of Penetrable, so whenever you’re ready to put your feet up after a busy day at the museum, just bring them to the noodles, set them loose and sit back to watch the fun!

Tip: Before you begin, hit the museum membership desk because kids under 17 and one accompanying adult get in to LACMA free with a NEXTGEN pass!

Plan your visit!

Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA)
5905 Wilshire Boulevard
Los Angeles, Ca 90036
323-857-6000
Online: lacma.org

What’s your favorite exhibit at LACMA? (And hey, what’s your favorite cheap parking near there?) What other L.A. places do your kids repurpose to be their personal play areas? Tell us in the comments below! 

— Jennifer Arrow