Los Angeles is a city rich in history, boasting a diverse and vibrant past. From the indigenous Tongva people to the Spanish colonial era to the Hollywood Golden Age, Los Angeles has a story to tell.
And what better way to learn about this fascinating history than by visiting one of the city's many museums?
There are a plethora of history museums in Los Angeles, each offering a unique perspective and experience.
Whether you're interested in art, science, or social movements, there is a museum for you. From the Getty Center to the Museum of Tolerance, the options are endless.
But with so many choices, it can be difficult to decide which museum to visit. That's why we've put together a list of the best history museums in Los Angeles.
So, whether you're a local or a tourist, you can make the most of your time in this culturally rich city.
1. Battleship USS Iowa Museum
The Battleship USS Iowa Museum is a well-preserved piece of US Navy history.
The self-guided tour is informative and interesting, but a guided tour is recommended for a more immersive experience. The knowledgeable and friendly staff are always ready to help.
The museum is a great option for families with kids, who can learn about the ship's history through fun activities.
The gift shop has a good variety of items, including unique souvenirs. Plan to spend at least two hours to fully enjoy the museum.
2. Medieval Torture Museum
The Medieval Torture Museum is a unique and immersive history museum that offers visitors an unforgettable experience. With an impressive collection of interactive exhibits and artifacts, visitors can learn about the dark and gruesome history of medieval torture methods.
The museum's dark and gloomy ambiance adds to the eerie atmosphere, making it perfect for those who dare to explore the darker side of history.
The staff is friendly and knowledgeable, providing visitors with an informative and educational experience. The audio tour is highly recommended for those who want to immerse themselves further into the exhibits.
If you're looking for a one-of-a-kind experience that's both educational and entertaining, the Medieval Torture Museum is a must-visit attraction.
3. Japanese American National Museum
The Japanese American National Museum is a must-visit for history buffs. The exhibits are informative and showcase the rich history and culture of Japanese Americans.
The ongoing exhibit "Common Ground: The Heart of Community" has more than 20 narrated stops accessible via smartphone or headset.
The museum also has an augmented reality installation, both indoors and outdoors, which is a unique experience.
One of the highlights of the museum is the detailed exhibit on the concentration camps created by the US to imprison Japanese Americans during WWII. The admission fee is reasonable, and the museum is easily walkable from Union Station.
4. Museum of Social Justice
The Museum of Social Justice is a former church turned history museum that showcases changing exhibits about social justice issues.
The museum aims to raise awareness about different social issues and promote social change. As a tourist attraction, the museum offers a unique and thought-provoking experience that educates and inspires visitors.
The exhibits are well-curated and informative, allowing visitors to learn about various social justice movements and their impact on society.
The museum's commitment to social justice is evident in its mission, and it's a must-visit for anyone interested in history, social justice, and activism.
5. Heritage Square Museum
Heritage Square Museum offers a unique opportunity to step back in time and experience late 19th-century Los Angeles. With eight Victorian-era buildings, visitors can explore the city's history and architecture through guided tours or self-guided walks with informative brochures.
The museum has done an excellent job of preserving and restoring these historic buildings, which were saved from demolition.
The docents and volunteers are knowledgeable and friendly, making the tour a memorable experience.
Special events are also held throughout the year, such as the annual Vintage Fashion Show and Halloween festivities. For anyone interested in California's local history, Heritage Square Museum is a must-visit.
6. Museum of Tolerance
The Museum of Tolerance is an impactful history museum that educates visitors about the Holocaust and modern-day discrimination.
The exhibits are well-done and include multimedia presentations and survivor testimonials.
The staff is knowledgeable and helpful. The Anne Frank exhibit is a must-see.
The only downside is that the layout can be confusing for first-time visitors. However, the overall experience is informative and eye-opening.
7. Holocaust Museum LA
Holocaust Museum LA serves as a striking venue for preserving and educating about the atrocities of the Holocaust.
The museum boasts an impressive collection of WWII artifacts, including personal stories of resilience and donated survivor artifacts.
The chronological layout of exhibits and the audio guides make the experience informative and poignant. The memorial for the children who perished is a touching tribute.
The staff is friendly and knowledgeable, and the admission is free. Holocaust Museum LA is a must-visit for those who seek to learn and remember.
8. Autry Museum of the American West
The Autry Museum of the American West is a well-maintained museum with a huge collection of American West memorabilia.
The museum is attractive for both kids and adults, and ticket prices are reasonable. Visitors can spend hours here reading about the history of each collection and still not finish seeing everything in a day.
The museum also features a beautiful ethnobotanical garden and a life-size horse statue for children to enjoy. The museum is currently undergoing some renovations, but most of the exhibitions are still open.
The museum also has a nice gift shop with Native Art. The Autry Museum of the American West is a great destination for anyone interested in the history of the American West.
9. California African American Museum
The California African American Museum is a must-visit for anyone interested in African American culture and history.
With well-curated exhibits and a focus on California's unique contributions to the African American experience, visitors will leave with a deeper understanding and appreciation of this often overlooked aspect of American history.
The museum's rotating exhibits ensure that there is always something new to discover, making it a great destination for repeat visits.
Plus, with free admission, it's an accessible and affordable way to learn more about African American history.