With the help of my eldest child, I created a tour of LACMA for kids. Feel free to print and take with you, and share freely–just attribute it to this blog.
Kid-friendly works on display at LACMA
Japanese Pavilion: Remind your kids to walk the ramps. DON’T RUN!
Many of the paintings in the Japanese Pavilion are very sensitive to light. Also, they were created to be seen inside a home where the sunlight inside entered through rice paper. Therefore, the whole building has light that mimics that effect. Several of the paintings show animals and plants native to Japan—children usually like these very much.
When you reach the top of the ramp, pass through the doors and you’ll see a gallery of colorful prints. Most show life in Japan 300-100 years ago. Next, you’ll find a gallery with sculptures. One of them is an elephant. Don’t tell the kids what it is, see if they can guess. The artist had never seen an elephant himself (ask the kids where elephants live—continental Asian countries like India, Cambodia, Thailand, and also Africa). At the far side of this gallery is really cool samurai armor and swords.
Some children very much enjoy the netsuke gallery. The items contain very tiny figurines of people and animals and many are intentionally funny.
Below the Japanese Pavilion, you’ll find a little garden and then the entrance to one of the sculpture gardens (the one that doesn’t have naked people!).
This is where you’ll find the Boone Gallery. It will be free, but if the museum is crowded, they sometimes do staggered ticketing to avoid having too many kids in there at once.
Art of the Americas Building:
Take the elevator up to the 3rd Floor to see American Art. There’s a wonderful David Hockney called “Mulholland Drive” that the kids can identify with both because of the colors and the subject matter. Deeper inside, there’s a painting of “Daniel and the Lion’s Den.” Be sure to read the sign. The context of the artist brings a whole new level of meaning to the work. There’s also some amazing furniture and handicrafts from the Arts & Crafts movement that are really cool, and some nifty clothes, as well.
On the 4th Floor, you’ll find Latin American art, included Diego Rivera’s “Flower Day” and at least one piece by Frida Kahlo.
Main floor you enter from Central Court (technically, it's the 2nd floor, go up one flight from the West Entrance)—the famous ceramic “La Gerbe” by Matisse, as well as “The Treachery of Images” by Magritte (aka “This is not a pipe.”). That’s in Room 224. With the painting by Magritte, ask the children the difference between a real-life object and the pictoral/photographic representation of one.
Level 3—European paintings by artists such as Monet, Picasso, Cezanne, Gauguin, Pissaro, and the like. Sketches by Whistler.
Level 4—Islamic art contains amazing weapons and a huge chess set.
Broad Contemporary Art Museum (BCAM)—On the first floor, Richard Serra’s “Band” and Chris Burden’s “Metropolis II.”
Outdoors: “Levitated Mass” and “Urban Light” are wonderful installations for the kids to enjoy. Many of the tar pits outside of LACMA are free. You can sometimes even catch a glimpse of paleontologists working in them. They are to the NW of LACMA.
BS”D R. Klempner, 2012