5 LA Art Museums You Can Visit For Free (While You Wait For MOCA To Make The Switch)

The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. (Arata Isozaki via Flickr Creative Commons)

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In a suprise move that had artists, board members, and attendees of the museum's annual benefit rise to their feet in unanimous applause, MOCA announced that it's making admission free for the first time, thanks to a $10 million gift.

The museum hasn't yet made clear exactly when that switch will happen, though they've noted that adjusting the staffing and infrastructure to allow for more people could take months. They'll also likely be charging for special exhibitions.

In the meantime, there are plenty of other iconic L.A. museums that you can check out without shelling out.

Here are a few of our top picks:

THE BROAD

Inside the Broad. (Mike Kelley, courtesy of The Broad)

DTLA's The Broad focuses on contemporary art from the 1950s to today. Admission is free, but you'll have to make a reservation for timed visits throughout the day if you want guaranteed entry (they also offer walk-up entry via a standby line, which is a good option on weekdays when crowds are smaller). We recommend visiting this handy twitter profile for live wait-time updates if you decide to go the standby route.

There's another catch — the museum has a number of special exhibitions, which have their own ticket fees (they're usually somewhere around $18-$25). But you can always see the main collection without paying.

THE HAMMER MUSEUM

The Hammer Museum (Elon Schoenholz via Flickr Creative Commons)

The Hammer has a wide-spanning approach to art. It's a self-described artist-centric institution, offering what its website calls a "progressive array" of exhibitions and public programs.

Admission to the museum has been 100% free, no catch, since 2014 — they don't even have ticketed exhibitions. Why? As they put it on their website, "through our unwavering commitment to free admission and free public programs, the Hammer is open for all and FREE FOR GOOD."

THE GETTY CENTER

The Getty Center/city-of-the-future vibes (Courtesy the Getty)

The Westside's Getty Center is always free, and that includes the tram ride from the parking lot. The modern design looks vaguely like a Bond villain's headquarters, but inside you'll find a wide variety of pre-20th century European art, as well as 19th- and 20th-century American and European photographs.

The catch? They do charge $20 for parking ($15 after 3 p.m., $10 for evening events), and there's no street parking nearby. You can keep that manageable by carpooling with some friends to split the cost, or taking public transit — Metro buses drop off riders right at the Getty Center entrance. More details on parking and transportation options here.

THE GETTY VILLA

Some dreamy clouds over the Getty Villa. (Courtesy the Getty)

The Getty organization also operates the Getty Villa in the Pacific Palisades. Like the Getty Center, it's also free, also charges for parking.

The landscape and building design evoke ancient Greece and Rome, and that's also reflected in the artistic works on display. The exibitions here span over 7,000 years of human history, from the Stone Age to the fall of the Roman Empire.

LACMA

Urban Light at the L.A. County Museum of Art (Lucian Chert via Flickr Creative Commons)

OK, so the L.A. County Museum of Art in the Miracle Mile area doesn't usually offer free admission — but that doesn't mean there aren't any free ticket opportunities, especially for locals. L.A. County residents get in for free after 3 p.m. on weekdays — that'll give you a brisk two hours to check things out most of the week. Another option? The museum is open until 8 p.m. on Fridays, affording you a more leisurely visit.

Other categories for free admission include anyone 17 and under, an adult guest with someone under 17, and everyone (on the second Tuesday of each month). There are more holiday and special-deal opps on LACMA's ticket page.

MOST OTHER MUSEUMS

While not free all the time, you can get in to most L.A. museums for free at some point during the year. Many offer free days at various points every month.

One of the biggest opportunities to get in for free is SoCal Museums' annual Free-For-All Day, which has historically gone down in late January or early February.

You can see a full list of many SoCal museums that offer free admission days, along with specific dates and times, via SoCal Museums.

But if you're able to, support the arts — your admission dollars will help make sure that there's always incredible stuff for everyone in the city to go check out. And if you find a museum you really like, buy a membership. You'll get in free all year long, and you'll feel good about it at the same time.

Check out SoCal Museums' full 2019 chart showing free museum times and days below:

This story has been updated.