Wednesday, December 04, 2013
The story of the Southwest Museum is a sad one.
Opened in 1913, it's the oldest museum in Los Angeles.
Built on a hillside, it has commanding views over Highland Park from Downtown Los Angeles to Pasadena.
It owns one of the finest collections of Native American artifacts in the world.
Yet today the museum is only open one day a week (Saturday) and most of its priceless collection is hidden from view.
One hundred years old, the building is completely outmoded. It was built BEFORE cars were in the mainstream and is oriented towards a commuter line running up the Arroyo Secco. A century ago, after arriving by rail, visitors were expected to hike up a rugged path clinging to a steep hillside. After the museum's director died of a heart attack climbing up to the front door a tunnel connecting to an elevator was installed to ease access.
The museum is laid out on several terraced levels making it completely inaccessible to those with mobility issues.
Out of money, the Southwest Museum was taken over by the Autry Museum which pledged to curate and maintain the collection -- a considerable financial commitment.
But the hillside gem of a museum remains nearly vacant, a White Elephant from another era.
Tuesday, November 05, 2013
I really enjoyed myself at the Long Beach Aquarium. It's a very impressive facility with excellent displays.
But the most interesting exhibit had nothing to do with oceans -- it was the bird aviary filled with the most colorful parrots. You can buy little cups of sugar water and the birds will land on your hand and drink from it. This means the birds swoop real low over the head of everyone who enters to see if they're offering snacks. Great people watching as newcomers get bird-bombed as they first come in.
Afterwards I took a terrific short cruise around the Long Beach Harbor and got to see everything from Sea Lions to Cargo Terminals.
Thursday, October 31, 2013
The Fowler Museum on the UCLA campus has a terrific collection of art from around the world focusing on how art is used to tell stories, record history and express power and wealth.
Their collection of silver, including object smithed by Paul Revere is quite impressive.
The free admission is a nice bonus too!
Wednesday, October 30, 2013
Chili John's in Burbank seems like a well-preserved roadhouse from the 20s. The menu is simple but terrific.
Had a nice chat with one of the owners about his family's efforts to keep up with changing tastes in food while respecting the traditions of the restaurants origins.
They've found the right balance and I hope they keep going for a long time.
Tuesday, October 29, 2013
Love him or hate him, a visit to the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Birthplace in Yorba Linda is a worthwhile look back at history.
There is so much more to the man than just his resignation from the Presidency. And it all started right here in Southern California. What an amazing journey.
Friday, October 18, 2013
I recently took a great tour of the Banning Mansion in Wilmington. I grew up a half a block away on Cary Avenue, and used to play in Banning Park surrounding the house, but until September I'd never been inside.
What a treat to see all the eclectic treasures of the Banning family including their fascinating "Hair Art," made from real human hair. Nothing went to waste in that family!
Phineas T. Banning was known as the Father of the Port of Los Angeles and he named Wilmington after his hometown in Delaware.
So great to find something so beautiful hiding in plain sight.
Tuesday, October 15, 2013
I recently drove down to Santa Ana to check out the Bowers Museum. I was completely surprised not only by how beautiful the facility is but by the diversity of their art collections and exhibitions.
The early California art was as expected and beautifully displayed. But the Pacific Islander and Asian art was a surprising delight.