Experience the Arts

Arts & Culture

Art
Art

Inspire creativity

From street murals and theaters to ceramics studios and numerous galleries, Santa Monica has long been a hub for arts & culture in Greater Los Angeles, upholding the importance of creativity. Half of Santa Monica’s residents are employed by the arts themselves. Visit a few of the 150+ murals adorning Santa Monica streets, spend the day at Bergamot Station, a former railroad station complex that is now home to some 30 art galleries and counting, or catch a concert or dance performance at the Broad Stage, which has hosted such names as actress Helen Hunt, flutist Sir James Galway and New Orleans’ Preservation Hall Jazz Band in previous years. Inspired to make your own piece of art? Drop into a painting class or put your hands in clay at a pottery studio.

Art

Museums

Santa Monica boasts a diverse and vibrant arts and culture scene with leading museums that keep the rich history and legacy of Santa Monica alive. At the Museum of Flying, just in the shadow of Santa Monica Airport, see historic Douglas World Cruisers, a replica of Orville and Wilbur Wright’s biplane and a U.S. Navy Skyhawk. You can even step into the cockpit of a Boeing 727 airliner. Along Main Street, in a historic 1894 Victorian-style house, the California Heritage Museum showcases craftsman furniture, folk art, tiles and collectibles, as well as photographs of a sprawling ostrich farm that occupied much of the Ocean Park area back in the 1890s.

Adjoining the Santa Monica Public Library, the Santa Monica History Museum features several dedicated permanent exhibits, including exhibits on the life of the Tongva, the original inhabitants of the Santa Monica Bay area; the Outlook, Santa Monica’s oldest local newspaper; and the town’s rise as a resort destination. The museum also is responsible for archiving upwards of 600,000 photography prints, negatives, glass-plate negatives and slides.

Rich History

Explore the roots of Californian culture and more when visiting one of Santa Monica’s diverse museums. From immersive discoveries to historic artifacts, visitors of all ages can find something new to learn.

Three people looking up at red airplane in aviation museum
Seafoam two-story building; California Heritage Museum

Bite-Sized Discoveries

From culture to cuisine, explore Santa Monica’s rich history when visiting the California Heritage Museum. Visit on Wednesdays to join locals and visitors alike as they meet to savor local bites from the city’s favorite gourmet food trucks.

Family-Friendly Museums

As the first museum of its kind in Los Angeles, Cayton Children’s Museum offers 21,000 square feet of discovery-based exhibits and immersive play for children aged 0-10. Discover the power of play when visiting this fan-favorite museum!

Museum Events

Sign up for one-of-a-kind weekly tours and discover special events, pop-up galleries and curated collections at the Santa Monica History Museum, Museum of Flying and more when looking through Santa Monica’s official events calendar.

Two men looking at photo in art gallery; pictures hanging in a row on walls

Art Galleries

With two campuses, the 18th Street Arts Center has been bringing unique and groundbreaking work to Santa Monica for 30 years. Including a program for Los Angeles-based artists who get to rent a workspace at a subsidized cost, the 18th Street Arts Center also offers the largest artist residency in Southern California.

At Bergamot Station, stop into galleries such as Skidmore, specializing in post-war and contemporary art; Danziger, known for its impressive roster of established and emerging photography shows; as well as William Turner, who represents mid-career and rising artists such as Ed Moses and his son Andy Moses; Alejandro Gehry, son of architect Frank Gehry; and abstract painter Kristina Quinones. And if you’re ready for a bite, Bergamot Café does brisk business in sandwiches, salads and coffee.

 

Art Galleries

Public Art

Santa Monica boasts 150+ art murals across its 8-square-mile radius. Many of the murals adorning parking lots and the sides of family-run businesses were completed by the nonprofit Beautify Earth and continue to entertain and inspire visitors and locals daily.

Click here to see street art by neighborhood and embark on your own self-guided tour.

Word gratitude painted on concrete wall with roses; public mural;
Blue mural of portrait of woman with paper airplanes coming out of her hair located on side of brick building
Mural of two hands forming heart; love wins written on hands; red, orange and yellow background

Art & Pottery Classes

In a bright corner building on Broadway and 14th Street, female-owned Paint:Lab has been offering art instruction for adults, kids and teens since 2009. Learn to paint with a variety of mediums: oil, acrylic, watercolor or gouache, a type of opaque watercolor. A local favorite, the art space has worked with local libraries, schools, youth, senior centers and more.

For pottery classes, delve into the world of ceramics at Still Life Studio. The spacious, airy studio runs weekly classes, one-off wheel sessions as well as specialized workshops focused on glazing, making molds and Raku firing. Bring the whole family and make take-home memories together.

Art Studio with easels, paint brushes and stools; brick wall with hanging art
Two people looking at painted art on easel; paint studio with natural lighting
Looking out at seats from theater stage

Theater, Dance, Music & Film

There’s no shortage of theater and music venues in Santa Monica. Check the calendar at the Miles Memorial Playhouse, Santa Monica Playhouse, Morgan-Wixson Theatre and City Garage for upcoming adult and family-friendly productions. In 2008, the glass-clad 500-seat Eli and Edythe Broad Stage opened its doors in Santa Monica, in partnership with the city’s college, bringing with it high-caliber performing arts, dance, music and children’s programming.

Performers such as pianist Andre Watts, Mikhail Baryshnikov and Patti LuPone have since taken to the stage there. Along Montana Avenue, the Aero Theater is a historic cinema showing films from Hollywood’s golden days such as Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, 2001: A Space Odyssey and Chinatown.

 

Theaters and Studios

Blogs

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