Originally a vanity project of the late oil tycoon Armand Hammer, this UCLA-affiliated museum has become a widely respected art space. The museum really shines in cutting-edge contemporary exhibits featuring local, under-represented and controversial artists. The Made in LA biennial, showcasing a diverse spectrum of LA-area artists, in even-numbered years, is headquartered here. It all stands in counterpoint to Armand Hammer’s personal collection of Renaissance to early 20th-century European and American art. All that, and it's free.
As an intellectual forum, the Hammer also presents diverse, high-caliber readings, lunchtime art talks, happenings, discussions, lectures, concerts and film screenings. Meanwhile, the museum store is one of the best in LA, stocking everything from art tomes to quirky, locally designed jewelry, fashion and accessories. Parking costs $7.