Every time a visitor enters the Hammer’s lobby, (or drives by the at Occidental Petroleum Building’s lobby at Westwood and Wilshire), the view is strikingly different. The installations on the staircase up the main courtyard are in constant flux, representing the Hammer’s ability to stay current with the art world. With a stalwart permanent collection that includes both modern art and classical etchings, there’s plenty to do and see (even if your kids might not be interested in some of the cutting-edge conceptual work in the traveling exhibits).
1. Lobby Gallery installation
Enter the museum by taking the stairs or elevator up from the parking structure. Before making your way to the main desk, turn right to take a peek at the Hammer’s latest lobby gallery installation. These are changed out every so often, and are one of the many reasons to keep coming back to the museum. Of course the permanent collection is spectacular, but it’s always exciting to learn about different new artists whose work is featured in the lobby.
2. Staircase installation
As we mentioned, the view from outside the museum is constantly in flux. That’s because the design next to the main staircase is always changing! These larger-than-life pieces always catch the eye of passers-by on Wilshire Blvd, and like the lobby installations, provide visitors with a wonderful breath of fresh artistic air. Walking up the museum’s main staircase gives the viewer a much better impression of whatever story the main staircase tells, and is the perfect portal into the world of art that awaits.
Originally, Ammo Café had one location on Highland. Now, it has found new home nestled in the corner of the Hammer’s atrium. The café is centered around it’s use of fresh, seasonal, locally grown ingredients. Menu items include a soup of the day, salads, sandwiches, paninis, burgers, and alcoholic beverages for parents (Happy Hour is from 4-7 p.m., and offers $6 wine and $4 beer). We suggest taking advantage of the beautiful outdoor seating, and enjoying the relaxing museum vibe.
4. Family Flicks
The Family Flicks Film Series at the Hammer is a great way to introduce your kids to some all-time classic movies. With the help of The UCLA Film & Television Archive, the museum shows fantastic movies in the beautiful Billy Wilder Theater at no extra cost. Check the Hammer’s website to be sure you don’t miss a showing of your favorite movie.
5. Hammer Kids Programming
Kids programs at the Hammer vary in medium, but never fail to disappoint. Check the museum’s schedule to determine what days and times are best for you and your family. Programs like “Sunday Afternoons for Kids” and “K.A.M.P” (or Kid’s Art Museum Project) are a great opportunity for your children to get active in the art world and tap in to their creative talent. Also be on the lookout for writing workshops hosted by 826LA volunteers.
6. Arts ReSTORE LA
Although the museum itself is a cultural hotspot, some of the stores and businesses in the surrounding Westwood area are not quite as beautifully modeled. Arts ReSTORE LA is an urban renewal project funded by a $100,000 gift from the Goldhirsh Foundation that will work on bring the artistic works and ideas from the museum into Westwood storefronts. Retail property owners are being encouraged to utilize L.A.’s creative community to help fill their storefronts with locally-made goods.
7. Rembrandt’s Juno and Gustave Moreau’s Salome Dancing Before Herod
Continue your tour by following the blue wall up to the atrium, and up another set of stairs to galleries four and five, which contain the iconic permanent collection. These two paintings are certainly ones to take a good look at: Juno watches over her fellow art pieces from her post in the middle of the right-hand wall in the first room of this gallery. Salome and Herod– crafted in an unmistakable dark, gothic-esque style– just miss their view of Juno from their position on the far left-hand wall in the third room of the gallery.
8. Hammer Screenings
Like Family Flicks but for a slightly older audience, Hammer Screenings are yet another big draw to the museum. These films are often documentary style and tend to compliment current exhibits. Enjoy a free screening at the beautiful Billy Wilder Theater; tickets are distributed first come, first served. Go here for the full list of upcoming screenings.
9. Hammer Store
Once you’ve finished your tour of the permanent collection (and anything else on the second floor that catches your eye), make your way downstairs and follow the signs to the Hammer Store. Even if you don’t actually purchase anything, the store contains plenty of interesting items—like folding chairs wrapped in yarn and a line of handbags designed by architects Ryan Upton and Airi Isoda. And of course, a second towards the back is devoted to educating children about all types of art. One series books that caught our eye contains titles like “13 Modern Artists Children Should Know” and “13 Art Mysteries Children Should Know”.
10. Murphy Sculpture Garden
The Hammer draws upon the rich resources of partner institution UCLA’s gorgeous Franklin B. Murphy Sculpture Garden and the UCLA Film & Television Archives, and there’s nothing better than exploring sculpture outside where kids can react naturally to the work. Artistic Director Ann Philbin gets high marks as one of the coolest curators in town, and her taste is what keeps us coming back to the serene marble courtyards of this relatively new museum. The museum’s programming is endlessly variable – from literary workshops and free film screenings for kids, poetry and literature lectures, political forum discussions — and we recommend getting on the museum’s mailing list to keep informed about the many resources available, even beyond art on the walls.
Past articles about The Hammer: