The Hammer Museum — Discovering Art in LA

by Ally Chou

Ever wanted to participate in the art scene but never knew where or how to start? Bruins are lucky enough to have a university affiliated institution just at the edge of Westwood Village — the Hammer Museum (10899 Wilshire Blvd). Whether or not art is your forte, everyone can enjoy their time at the Hammer, but before I get into its details, let me provide a background gist of what art in Los Angeles is like.

LA is best known for its mural and contemporary art that began to flourish since the 1960s. Compared to New York or Washington DC — the relatively more distinguished art hubs of the United States — the LA art scene is pretty new. As of now, however, LA is one of the biggest markets for buying contemporary art in the States, housing many of the most prestigious museums such as LACMA, The Broad, and our very own Hammer Museum!

Upon entering the Hammer, don’t be intimidated by the clean architectural interior! You will be greeted by a docent who will guide you to the lobby where you get a bold pink Hammer Museum sticker (don’t worry, the ticketing is always free!). Most of the exhibitions as of now, are all on the third floor where the galleries are situated.

In terms of time, the Hammer is definitely a museum you can finish going through within an hour or two, depending on your interest in the artworks displayed. It has a good combination of both historical and provoking contemporary art, though I would say the Hammer is a better representative of the latter. This is simply because LA is more in touch with the contemporary art world than it is with the ancient/historical (if you are more interested in those, perhaps the Getty Center and the Getty Villa would be museums more suited for you).

Currently, the Hammer is exhibiting works of contemporary artist Adrian Piper: “Adrian Piper: Concepts and Institutions, 1965-2016”. It features more than 270 works across 50 years, and the audience can see a wide variety of her multimedia artwork. Under the calming ambience of the Hammer, you can get to know one of the most renowned contemporary artists, who has influenced the art scene since the 60s. She addresses social, political and spiritual issues on gender, race and xenophobia through a humorous perspective — definitely an enlightening way to begin your path into the field of art. The exhibition is on display until January 6, 2019, so there is still a lot of time to visit!

Asides from just being a museum institution, the Hammer is also a multipurpose area that would be perfect for a date, studying or even just to grab a quick bite amongst an artistic environment. The outdoor atrium (where the spinning chairs are), is normally pretty empty and spacious, a great place to move your studying away from Powell Library and into an aesthetic environment with great lighting. There is also a café open in case you get hungry!

Note: The Hammer Museum is closed on Mondays.

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