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Pasadena Art Museums & Architecture Guide

November 26, 2019

| Posted in Arts & Culture

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Norton Simon Museum

Pasadena is full of “happy, little trees” that surround some of the greatest museums around the city. See works spanning from the impressionist era to current-day modernism. Pieces from Goya, Picasso, and more are featured across Pasadena’s many art museums and collections. In addition to traditional mediums, the craftsman buildings are not to be overlooked. Many of the homes in the area have been featured in Hollywood blockbuster films, and inspired many architects around the country.   

Norton Simon Museum 

Known around the world as one of the most remarkable private art collections ever assembled, the Norton Simon Museum houses more than 12,000 objects, roughly 1,000 of which are on view in the galleries and gardens. See art from the European Renaissance, an impressive Indian and southeast Asian collection, and modern and contemporary era artwork. Two exhibition spaces also feature rotating installations of artworks not on permanent display.

The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens

The Huntington is a research and cultural center surrounded by 120 acres spread across 12 specialized gardens. It is one of Southern California’s must-see cultural destinations with magnificent collections of rare books, manuscripts, and famous works of art including Gainsborough’s “The Blue Boy,” Mary Cassatt’s “Breakfast in Bed,” a Gutenberg Bible, an illuminated manuscript of Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales, and a First Folio edition of Shakespeare.

Fenyes Mansion and Finnish Folk Art Museum at the Pasadena Museum of History

Finnish Folk Art Museum

Fenyes Mansion offers visitors a look into the lifestyle of a traditional, Pasadena millionaire’s life. Tour the mansion for a glimpse of elegant 1906 Beaux Arts architecture, complete with its original furnishes. The Finnish Folk Art Museum, located on the same property, displays authentic Finish artifacts from the 19th century “tupa”, or farmhouse. Presented in partnership with the Finlandia Foundation, the redwood structure is the only museum of its kind in the United States.

The Armory Center for the Arts

The Armory Center for the Arts has been the forefront of art education in Southern California for more than 60 years, maintaining the commitment to providing accessible public spaces for the exhibition of contemporary art and to providing meaningful experiences in art education. In addition to rotating installations, the center also hosts events, speakers, and art classes. 

Pasadena Heritage Craftsman Tours

Pasadena Heritage, the key organization in the preservation, advocacy, and education of Pasadena’s historic architecture hosts monthly architectural walking tours, pub crawls, lectures, workshops, and more around the city of Pasadena to give visitors and locals a deeper understanding of the city’s roots and its craftsman history. The tours cover various neighborhoods, so make sure to attend a few to get the most out of the city.

Caltech Architecture Tours

Though it may be known for more STEM-related work, Caltech, California Institution of Technology, hosts its own architecture tours across its historic campus. Combining modern styles with influences from Mediterranean Revivals to Modernism to Brutalist, the architecture of the campus is a sight to see. Tours are conducted on the fourth Thursday of every month. Reservations in advance are highly recommended. 

Gamble House

Known for its role in the Hollywood production, Back to the Future, the Gamble House is a traditional American craftsman home designed by Greene & Greene. It is the finest example of early 20th-century Craftsman architecture, completely preserved with all of its original furnishings which were designed by the architects as well. It is also on the National Register of Historic Places. 

USC Pacific Asia Museum

USC Pacific Asia Museum is the only university museum in the United States dedicated exclusively to the arts and culture of Asia and the Pacific Islands. Not only is the exterior structure and gardens an architectural feat, the interior of the museum has a collection of more than 15,000 items from across Asia and the Pacific Islands, spanning more than 5,000 years making it a historical art treat as well.

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