Before you hit your favorite dive bars or hunker down with the television remote on Saturday, consider taking in a bit of art and culture by going museum hopping.
For Southern California Museums' (previously the Museum Marketing Roundtable) ninth annual “Museums Free-for-All,” admission will be free to the public Saturday at 20 participating institutions. The collection of diverse institutions — art, cultural heritage, natural history, science, photography and more — include the California African American Museum, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Skirball Cultural Center, the USC Pacific Asia Museum and the Pasadena Museum of California Art.
Some of the participating museums on the list, including the Armory Center for the Arts, the Getty Center and Santa Monica Museum of Art, already offer free admission year-round, and regular parking fees will apply. And general admission does not include specially ticketed exhibitions, such as LACMA's “Calder and Abstraction: From Avant-Garde to Iconic.”
The roundtable was created by Los Angeles-area communications officials after Sept. 11, 2001, to offer a worthy diversion from the devastating terrorist attacks, said Emma Jacobson-Sive, director of the Pasadena Museum of California Art. Its first activity was to publish a full-page ad in the Los Angeles Times reading, “We share a vision to inspire and, at times like these, heal and fortify the human spirit. We welcome you.”
In 2006, after years of cross-promotions and collective representations at festivals, the roundtable began offering “Museums Free-for-All” in that same spirit.
“It was born of that as a way to simultaneously offer something to the community arts-wise, but it shifted to January because that's Los Angeles Arts Month,” Jacobson-Sive said. “It's typically a time that has low attendance for the museums. It also helps museums because it gets people through the doors.”
Among the Pasadena Museum of California Art's new exhibitions is “Picturing Mexico: Alfredo Ramos Martinez in California,” which runs through Apr. 20 and is the first comprehensive examination of the artist's work produced in the Golden State between 1929 and 1946.
Somewhat overshadowed by Mexican artists Diego Rivera, José Clemente Orozco and David Alfaro Siqueiros, Martinez, who died in 1946, now sits alongside his contemporaries in the narrative of early-20th-century art, according to the museum. He often used newspapers, including the Los Angeles Times, as his canvas.
At the Skirball Cultural Center, children can enjoy “The Ark Has Docked,” a permanent, interactive destination representing Noah's Ark.
The remaining participating venues are the Annenberg Space for Photography, Autry National Center of the American West, California Science Center, Fowler Museum at UCLA, Getty Villa (timed tickets are required; visit www.getty.edu), Hammer Museum, Japanese American National Museum, Los Angeles Fire Department Museum and Memorial (Hollywood and San Pedro), Museum of Contemporary Art, Museum of Latin American Art, Orange County Museum of Art and Paley Center for Media.
For more information, check out SoCalMuseums.org. The public is urged to consult individual museum websites for hours and other visitor information.