This is the Los Angeles county’s premier institution for art, welcoming 60,000 visitors each year, with 2,500 items in its permanent collection. It focuses on California art from the early 20th century to the present day. Since its founding in 1918 as the Laguna Beach Art Association, it grew to include the communities of Newport Beach and Costa Mesa, and officially changed its name in 1996. It is also the founder of the California Biennial, began in 1984 to showcase art by California artists.
The museum’s collection includes works of modern and contemporary painting, sculpture, photography, drawing, printmaking, video, digital and installation art from the 20th and 21st centuries. Highlights include Ed Ruscha’s Annie, John Baldessari’s Voluble Luminist Painting for Max Kozloff, Lee Bul’s Supernova, and John McCracken’s Nine Planks V.
The museum also regularly hosts special exhibitions. In the past they have included video art by Gao Shiqiang and Chen Quilin; a showcase of work by Georgia O’Keeffe, Agnes Pelton, Agnes Martin and Florence Miller Pie; art by Mary Heilmann; and the exhibition Recent Art in Tumultuous Times.
Orange County Museum of Art Information
- Public Transportation: Good (55, 57, 75, and 79 buses service the area)
- Handicapped Accessibility: Good
- Hours: Wednesday–Sunday 11 a.m.–5 p.m., Thursday 11 a.m.–8 p.m., closed Monday and Tuesday
- Admission: $12, seniors (65+) and students $10, children under 12 free, 2-for-1 admission for KCRW members with valid membership
- Free Day: Second Sunday of the month
- Tours: Free public tours of the permanent collection are offered Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday at 1 p.m.; free tours of special exhibitions are also offered, though times vary with each exhibition
- Membership: $60 annual membership entitles two people to unlimited museum visits, invitations to members’ openings for major exhibitions and events, and a free subscription to the members’ newsletter. Student membership is offered for $25
- Other Benefits: Friend membership ($250/annually) will get you reciprocal admission to other museums.