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L.A. museum strategy-map; visiting Southern California's major museums? You need this.

Like lodestones lodged in the freeway-veined maze of metropolitan Los Angeles, the region's major museums draw local patrons and out-of-town visitors to their doors. Mapped here are museum areas with so much to offer that you need a strategy for your visit. We asked people who work at the museums to share tips they give their families and friends. What's the best day to come-or to avoid? What time of day is best? Where should patrons park? How can they avoid rushhour traffic and school groups? Are there any introductory tours not to miss? What's the best way to work in a meal, or to combine visits to multiple attractions in the same vicinity? We don't recount features of the permanent exhibits in each locale because they're well covered in guidebooks. For updates on temporary exhibits, call the numbers we list. Area codes are 213 unless otherwise noted. To save space, only adult admission is given; children and seniors pay less. Santa Monica By the sea, galleries and gardens at the Getty Strategy for 1 the J. Paul Getty Museum, 17985 Pacific Coast Highway,, involves getting there. You parking at least a week ahead, call 4582003. Or come by bicycle, Ri; bu, 434, or taxi (free call boxes let you had cab). No walk-in visitors. it's open, free, 10 to 5 Tuesdays through Sundays. Weekdays are less crowded. Any day, head into interior galleries early; stroll gardens afterward. First-timers should hear 15-minute talk about villa and gardens; groups form at entry. Cafeteria-style garden tearoom is open 9:30 to 4:30 (it's most crowded at noon). Before a morning visit, breakfast on deck of Gladstone's 4 Fish 3/4 mile east, open 7 A.M. to 11 Pm.; 454-3474); free parking until 10:30 A.M. The RTD stop is in front. Or park at the Charthouse (1/2 mile west, open 4 to 10 or 11 daily, from 10:30 Sundays; 454-9321). A shuttle to the Getty runs 10 to 4 weekdays; $4 round trip. Have sunset supper upon return.

Fine art to ice-age fossils In Hancock Park, visit 2 L.A. County Museum of Art, 5905 Wilshire Boulevard; and 3 George C. Page Museum of La Brea Discoveries, 5801 Wilshire. Best parking is behind Page: you pay $5, get $2 refund with Page validation. Weekends, also try lot across Wilshire from LACMA: $3.30 ($6.60 weekdays). Start at LACMA (10 to 5 Tuesdays through Fridays, to 6 weekends; 857-611 1). Admission: $5. Tuesdays and Wednesdays are least crowded. At the information kiosk, families with young children should pick up the Artists Make Puzzles brochure, a guide to six pivotal works in the permanent collection. Go first to Pavilion for Japanese Art to enjoy morning light through shoji-like walls. Avoid crowded noon hour at cafeteria-style cafe (10 to 4:30, to 5:30 weekends). Tables on north terrace offer best views of new Japanese garden; the east terrace overlooks the new sculpture garden. Hour-long tours, at 1 and 2:15, visit permanent and changing shows. On Wednesdays at 1, you might rest your feet at a screening of a classic film ($1); call 57-6010 for schedules or to reserve for evening films ($6). At the Page (10 to 5 Tuesdays through Sundays; 936-2230), aim for an afternoon visit on weekdays, as school tours abound mornings. Admission: $3. The jungly atrium garden opens at 1 weekdays, 10 weekends; go on roof to enjoy birds in atrium treetops. Guided tours are daily at 2; skip Tuesdays if you want to view lab work on bones dug from the tor pks. Gemstones to G-forces Museums at Exposition Park include 4 L.A. County Museum of Natural History, and 5 California Museum of Science and industry, with its Aerospace Hall and imax Theater. Head here to find a museum that's open Mondays-CMSI is open 10 to 5 daily, imax 10 to 10. LACMNH hours are 10 to 5 Tuesdays through Sundays. But don't come any time there's an event at LA. Memorial Coliseum or Sports Arena. Mondays and Tuesdays are least crowded. Skip weekday mornings, when school tours visit, and noon to 3 weekends. Park for $1 in Menlo Avenue lot just west of LACMNH, 900 Exposition Boulevard; or in Figueroa Street lot just south of CMSI, 700 State Drive. At LACMNH (744-3466), Stuart Hall of Gems and Minerals and gift shops close at 4:45; Discovery Center is open only 11 to 3. Museum admission: $5. At CMSI (744-7400), closure of unreinforced masonry halls has shut 25 percent of museum, including exhibits on earthquakes, California wine, chick hatching. That still leaves too much to see in one visit; choose one partAerospace Hall, Hall of Health, Technology Hall-and dive into interactive exhibits. Admission to CMSI is free. Bring a blanket to picnic between the museums in Rose Garden (8:30 to 4:30 daily); first bloOMS appear in March. To miss weekday rush hour, plan on seeing 5 Pm. show at Imax (744-2014 or 744-2015 for schedule); $5. Animals and the Old West in Griffith Park's northeast comer, 6 L.A. Zoo and 7 Gene Autry Western Heritage Museum share free parking. Sundays are most crowded. Start at zoo, 5333 Zoo Drive (10 to 5 daily; 666-4090). Admission: $6. Go first to Koala House; at 10 these nocturnals are getting active. Lights stay on only till 10:30 or 11, so this is the only time you can photograph (no flash allowed). All animals are most active and vocal in morning. Listen for choruses of howler monkeys and gibbons. Note: no bird show Mondays; elephant shows at 1 on weekends only. Zoo picnic areas offer play equipment, views of animals,, Autry sells cafeteria lunches. Spend afternoon at Autry Museum, 4700 Zoo Drive (10 to 5 Tuesdays through Sundays; 667-2000). Admission: 5.50. School tours crowd weekday mornings. Don't miss Crossroads of Continents exhibit about North Pacific Rim, the first U.S.-Soviet museum show, through February 24 (extra $2 admission). Weekends, showings of Western film classics $I) are at 2 Pm. Modem art visions For immersion in contemporary art, head downtown to 8 the Museum of Contemporary Art and 9 the Temporary Contemporary. Your goals: to drive as little as possible downtown and to find inexpensive parking. MOCA (250 S. Grand Avenue) and TC (152 N. Central Avenue) are both open I I to 6 Tuesdays through Sundays (till 8 Thursdays); call 626-6222 for either. Admission to each: $4; free Thursdays after S. Weekdays are quietest, Sundays busiest. Any morning, park in lot at Central and First ($3), a half-block south of the TC. Take the A-route bus of the DASH shuttle (till 6:30 Pm. weekdays, 5 Saturdays; 25 cents) to Grand Avenue stop; walk south two blocks to MOCA for opening at 11. Have early lunch at the cafe. Or bring a picnic to eat in fountain plaza. With kids, pick up free MOCA quide for families. Docents give helpful 20-minute slide talks at 12:15 and 1:15 weekdays, 1:15 and 2:15 weekends. Return up Grand to catch DASH shuttle back to TC to see its exhibits. To avoid weekday evening rush hour, have dinner nearby in one of the Little Tokyo eateries along and off First Street west of Central. insiders recommend MOCKS Thursday evening Art Talks by artists and historians; talks key to exhibits. Park under MOCA at California Plaza off lower Grand Avenue ($4 after 5 Pm. and weekends). in Pasadena, big bungalow to botany to Balzac Try to do Pasadena on a Thursday or Friday (less crowded than weekends). Start at 10 the Gamble house, 4 Westmoreland Place, when it opens at noon (till 3 Thursdays through Sundays); (818) 793-3334. Buy a $4 ticket in the garage bookstore (free parking); tours of house and gardens begin at entry every 20 minutes. Or arrive when gates open after noon weekdays at in Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens, 1151 Oxford Road, open 1 to 4:30 Tuesdays through Fridays (from 10:30 weekends); (818) 405-2100. Admission: $5. First, browse in the bookstore, open at 12:30; it gets crowded near closing time. There's too much to see in one visit; to decide what to see, watch 9-minute slide show in Friends' Hall (shown every 15 minutes, 12:45 till 3). Plant lovers should take 1-hour garden tour, groups leave from I to 2 Pm. For tea ($9; reserve ahead), call 584-9337. Or eat in cafeteria. End day at 12 Norton Simon Museum, 411 W. Colorado Boulevard, open noon to 6 Thursdays through Sundays; (818) 4496840. Admission: $4. Museum's impressionist and Post-impressionist galleries are seldom crowded. Late-day light adds drama to outdoor sculptures-look for Rodin's Balzac against the backdrop of the San Gabriel Mountains.
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Date:Feb 1, 1991
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