Started as a pensioner’s paradise and a resort town for wealth East Coast families looking for a respite from the winter cold, Pasadena is now famous for so much more – from the Rose Bowl Parade to the monthly flea market and, of course, Caltech!
Today, Pasadena houses around 150,000 residents and is probably the most cultured suburb of the Greater Los Angeles Area. Museum-goers from all over California flock here for their culture fix – be it art, history, theatre, architecture or nature.
Here’s a list of Pasadena’s top 7 museums in no particular order:
411, W. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena, CA 91105 | T: 626-448-6840
This museum houses one of the most vast and remarkable private art collections in the world. Housing over 12,000 objects with 1,000 on display in the galleries, the museum boasts a breadth of art from Renaissance to 20th century European art, Indian and Southeast Asian art, modern and contemporary art from Europe and the United States. There’s also a cute outdoor cafe from where you can enjoy their astounding sculpture garden and sip on happy hour drinks from 5-7PM on Fridays and Saturdays.
Hours: M, W, Th- 12PM – 5PM | F, Sa – 11AM – 8PM | Su – 11AM – 5PM | Tu- Closed
Admission Fee: Adults: $15 | Seniors (62+): $12 | Kids (18 and under), Students with ID: Free | Free admission from 5PM to 8PM on the first Friday of every month
Tickets: Tickets can be purchased online or at the museum entrance
2. Gamble House
4 Westmoreland Place, Pasadena, CA 91103 | T: 626-793-3334
Designed in 1908 by Pasadena architects Greene & Greene, the Gamble House was the winter residence of David and Mary Gamble of P&G fame. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the house is built in early 20th-century Craftsman style. The house, furnishings and the artwork are all hand-crafted and have been preserved in their original form.
To visit the Gamble House, you have to sign up for a one-hour docent-led tour, which is absolutely worth it. The docents are extremely well-informed about the history of the house, the Arts-and-Crafts style of architecture and the significance of . It’s also a great way to learn about the lives of the Gamble family during the years they lived here!
Hours: Tours are open to the public Thu- Fri between 11:30AM – 3PM and Sat – Sun between 12PM – 3PM | 20-min docent-led tours every Tuesday at 12:15PM or 12:45PM
One- hour docent-led tours – Adults (13+): $15 | Senior (65+), Students with ID: $12.50 | Children (13 and under): Free Brown-bag Tuesday mini-tour: Adults (13+) : $8 | Children(13 and under): Free
Tickets: Tours can be purchased online; by calling +1 (844) 325-0812; or by visiting the gift shop at the Gamble House during business hours
470 W. Walnut Street, Pasadena, CA 91103| T: 626-577-1660
Built on the estate of the Fenyes Mansion, the Pasadena Museum of History houses nearly a million historic photographs, books, maps and artifacts about the history, art and culture of Pasadena.
The museum consists of three main attractions – the History Center with two galleries showcasing modern art; the Fenyes Mansion, an elegant Beaux-Arts style home from the early 1900s with original furnishings and artworks and the Finnish Folk Art Museum, which houses some beautiful 19th century artifacts representative of a 19th century “tupa,” or farmhouse.
Volunteer opportunities abound if you’re interested in being a gallery host, a
History Center Exhibits – Wed – Sun: 12PM -4PM Fenyes Mansion and Finnish Folk Art Museum Tours – Fri to Sun: 12:15PM
History Center Exhibits – Adults: $9 | Students, Seniors: $8 Fenyes Mansion and Finnish Folk Art Museum Tours – $17
Tickets: Tickets can be purchased online or by calling 1.800.838.3006.
1151 Oxford Road, San Marino, Calif. 91108 | T: 626-405-2100
Located on the sprawling 120 acre estate of the railroad magnate Henry Huntington, The Huntington houses a library with a massive collection of 9 million items from the 11th to 21st centuries as well as an art collection with Gainsborough’s “The Blue Boy,” Mary Cassatt’s “Breakfast in Bed,” a Gutenberg Bible, an illuminated manuscript of Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales, a First Folio edition of Shakespeare and a sculpture garden.
The highlight of the Huntington however is the Botanical Gardens with a diverse collection in 12 specialized gardens including the Desert Garden, Shakespeare Garden, Lily Ponds and Japanese Garden. Several sightings of peacocks have also been reported – so you may get lucky!
You could also make a reservation for the Rose Garden Tea Room for an evening of teas, scones and buffet of finger sandwiches, imported and domestic cheeses, fresh fruit, chilled seasonal salads and specialty petite desserts.
Hours: All Days except Tue: 10:30AM – 4:30PM | Tue – Closed
Admission Fee: Weekdays: Adults: $25 | Seniors (65+) , Students (12-18, or with full-time student ID): $21 | Youth (4-11): $13 | Children (under 4): Free | Groups (15 or more): $19 per person Weekends: Adults: $29 | Seniors (65+): $24 | Students (12-18, or student ID): $24 |Youth (4-11): $13 | Children (under 4): Free | Groups (15 or more): $23 per person
Free Day: First Thursday of every month with advance tickets
Tickets: Tickets can be purchased online.
46 N. Robles Ave., Pasadena, CA 91101 |T: 626-449-2742
The only museum in the US dedicated to the arts and culture of Asia and the Pacific Islands, the USC Pacific Asia Museum has a collectio of over than 15,000 items spanning 5,000 years. Most eminent amongst them are the Harari Collection of Japanese Paintings, Chinese ceramics and textiles and Buddhist art from across Asia.
Hours: Wed – Sun: 11AM – 5PM | Thu: 11AM – 8PM
Admission Fee: Adults: $10| Students with ID, Seniors (65+): $7 | Children (17 and under): Free | Free admission for all visitors on Thursdays from 5PM – 8PM and second Sunday of the month
Tickets: Tickets are available at the door of the museum
145 N. Raymond Ave., Pasadena, CA 91103 | T: 626-792-5101
Pasadena’s most eminent gallery of contemporary art, the Armory has a range of exhibitions by contemporary artists, public programs, artist residencies, forums, screenings and performances.
Additionally, the Armory has a strong focus on community arts education with studio art classes for adults, teens, children and families. Sample classes include letterpress, collage ceramics, drawing, painting and much much more.
Hours: Mon, Wed-Fri: 12PM – 5PM
Admission Fee: Free entry for all visitors | One-hour tour of the Gallery: $5
Tickets: Schedule a one-hour tour of an Armory gallery exhibition by calling 626.792.5101. Find out more about the education options here
ArtCenter College of Design, 1700 Lida Street, Pasadena, CA 91103
Located in the iconic building of ArtCenter College of Design, the 4,600-square-foot Gallery produces three major exhibitions each year featuring world-class artists and design luminaries. ArtCenter strives to develop exhibits that resonate deeply, provoke intellectual dissonance and conjure unexpected pathways of thinking. This Gallery is a great way to get a glimpse into the bleeding edge of 21st century design.
Hours: Tue – Sun: 12PM – 5PM | Fri: 12PM – 9PM
Admission Fees: Free entry for all visitors