Cultural and Ethnic Museums in Los Angeles

Museum of Contemporary Art, Downtown LA, Los Angeles County, California, USA


Image Source / Getty Images 

Los Angeles is one of the most diverse places on the planet. The city's character has been formed by the many ethnic and cultural groups that have called the city home since it's inception. Below is an alphabetical list of major museums and cultural centers that showcase these cultures and their contributions.

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American Jewish University Art Galleries

The Art Galleries at the American Jewish University in Belair showcase the work of Jewish artists and other influential artists.

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California African American Museum

California African American Museum

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The California African American Museum at Exposition Park exhibits and interprets the history, art, and culture of African Americans with a focus on California and the western United States.

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Chinese American Museum

Chinese American Museum at El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historical Monument in Los Angeles

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The Chinese American Museum is located in the oldest building in LA's "Old Chinatown," which is now part of El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historic Site. The museum is dedicated to the Chinese American experience and history in Southern California.

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Mayme A. Clayton Library and Museum

The Mayme A. Clayton Library and Museum (originally the Western States Black Research Center) is a collection of "over two million rare books, films, documents, photographs, artifacts, and works of art related to the history and culture of African Americans in the United States, with a special focus on Southern California and the American West." The museum is located in the former Los Angeles County Superior Courthouse in Culver City.

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Finnish Folk Art Museum

The Finnish Folk Art Museum is operated by the Pasadena History Museum at the Feynes House, which used to be the Finnish Consulate.

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Italian American Museum of Los Angeles

Rendering of the Italian American Museum Los Angeles
Rendering courtesy of the Italian American Museum Los Angeles

The Italian American Museum of Los Angeles opened in 2016 in the original Italian Hall at the corner of El Pueblo de Los Angeles at Olvera Street. It showcases the contributions of Italians to the city of Los Angeles.

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Italian Cultural Institute - Instituto Italiano de Cultura

The Italian Cultural Institute in Brentwood is the Cultural Office of the Italian Consulate General in Los Angeles, tasked with promoting Italian culture through various programs and exhibits. Additional Italian cultural programming is organized by the Casa Italiana Cultural Center at St. Peter's Church near Chinatown. There are also plans for an Italian American Museum at the Italian Hall at El Pueblo.

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Japanese American National Museum

Japanese American National Museum

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The Japanese American National Museum in Little Tokyo in Downtown Los Angeles focuses on the history of Japanese people in the United States with an emphasis on the West and the Japanese American contribution to the development of Los Angeles.

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Korean American Museum

The Korean American Museum does not have a permanent gallery, but stages exhibits in various locations around Downtown LA and Koreatown.

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Korean Cultural Center Los Angeles

The Korean Cultural Center on the Miracle Mile is operated by the Korean government's Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism. It is dedicated to providing insights into the cultural heritage of Korea through exhibitions and programs.

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LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes

LA Plaza Exterior

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LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes, also known as LA Plaza, is a cultural museum at El Pueblo de Los Angeles dedicated to telling the story of the Mexican origins of the city of Los Angeles and the contribution of Mexican culture to the city's development.
There are also exhibits on current Mexican culture at the Mexican Consulate in Los Angeles.

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Martial Arts History Museum

Martial Arts History Museum
Photo courtesy of the Martial Arts History Museum

Although the Martial Arts History Museum focuses on the history of the various martial arts throughout Asia, you get a good dose of the history of those cultures along with historic uniforms and weapons.

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Museum of Latin American Art

Museum of Latin American Art

TripSavvy / Christian Hundley

The Museum of Latin American Art in Long Beach focuses its collection on art by contemporary artists from all over Mexico, Central and South America.

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Pacific Asia Museum

USC Pacific Asia Museum in Pasadena

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The Pacific Asia Museum is a small museum in Pasadena that showcases the arts, both historic and modern, of Asia and the Pacific Islands.

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Pacific Island Ethnic Art Museum

Pacific Island Ethnic Art Museum in Long Beach

Photo by Thomas McConville, courtesy of Visit Long Beach

The Pacific Island Ethnic Art Museum in Long Beach showcases the diverse cultures from the Pacific Islands including the Marshallese, Samoans, Chamorro, Fijian, Carolinian, Tongan, Micronesian, Hawaiian, the Ni-Vanuatu, Niuean, Tuvauluan, Maori, Polynesian, Papuan, Austronesian, Nauruan, Melanesian, Palauan, the I-Kiribati and many more distinct nationalities.

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Skirball Cultural Center

Skirball Cultural Center

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The Skirball Cultural Center in Brentwood explores the relationship between Jewish culture and heritage and American democracy and culture through exhibits and programs.

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Southwest Museum of the American Indian

The Southwest Museum of the American Indian is part of the Autry National Center. It contains the largest collections of Native American artifacts in the region. Part of the collection is on display, on Saturdays only, at the original Southwest Museum in Mt. Washington, which is now mostly used for conservation. Another part is at the Autry in Griffith Park, but most of it remains in storage during renovations.

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