One of my favorite places in LA: the Underground Museum


One of my favorite ways to spend a weekend is pairing outdoor enjoyment with art appreciation. I first stumbled upon the Underground Museum last summer while looking for interesting ways to beat the Los Angeles heat.

street view of Underground Museum in LA

Photo by Carolina A. Miranda / Los Angeles Times

Located in an nondescript storefront on Washington blvd in the Arlington heights / West Adams neighborhood, you could easily drive by and miss it. The entrance is through the gift shop (insert Banksy joke here), which is a tasteful assortment of curated art books, t-shirts, home decor setting the tone for what's to come. Entrance is free, made possible through a partnership with MOCA, that has also loaned most of the collection on display in the exhibit. 

Lita Albuquerque Sirius cobalt sphere artwork in Underground Museum LA

Lita Albuquerque - Sirius ( Salt, Fiberglass, Pigment) When we visited, the work was under renovation because a child had put his handprints all over the piece. The salt was removed and it was being cleaned. 

 The Underground Museum is a breath of fresh air. Walk in and exhale the stresses of the surrounding city. Art museums can be intimidating, sterile places. Not here. What so many places get wrong, especially in LA, they get right. The staff are warm, everyone is all smiles and seeming like they are genuinely want to be there - no too cool for school attitudes here. It was a really hot day when we were there, and they offered us water to drink as the juice bar had already closed for the day.

child looking at Ellsworth Kelly at Underground Museum in LA

Ellsworth Kelly - Spectrum

Artist Noah Davis at the Underground Museum

Photo of Noah Davis attending a film event at the Underground Museum by Alberto E. Rodriguez / WireImage

"Ultimately, I want to change the way people view art, the way people buy art, they way they make art. I've always tried to balance the tight rope of making my art accessible to those who are aware of the craft, and those who aren't convinced of art, or more specifically, my artistic objective. I believe the concealing too much in theory is problematic and that art can function in every-day life. I strive for an artistic legacy that not only transcends blackness but confluences and impacts all cultures " -Noah Davis

man sitting and looking at Noah Davis purple square painting at Underground Museum LA

Reflecting on Noah Davis' painting in Artists of Color

Donald Judd at the Underground Museum LA

child taking photograph of Donald Judd artwork at Underground Museum LA

How I make art more interactive for Dries. He takes pictures of things he finds interesting with his camera and we compare and discuss afterwards.

friends relaxing at Underground Museum LA

Sit down and share a moment with friends.

The museum was originally artist Noah Davis' studio, he began hosting art exhibitions there and gaining attention and acclaim and expanded into the surrounding buildings, creating an outdoor space and garden, all with the vision of creating the interactive experience that was to become the Underground Museum. Unfortunately Noah's life was cut short due to a rare form of cancer and passed away at age 32 in 2015.  He was extremely prolific, planning 13 exhibitions with MOCA before his death, the current exhibition Artists of Color is the third.  The museum and his legacy has continued on through the help of his family. His artist wife Karon, and brother video artist Khalil Joseph (director of Lemonade), carry on his legacy. Khalil also curates the summer movie series that hosts a different art or popular film every Friday night in the purple garden. 

Purple garden movie night at Underground Museum LA

Movie night! We saw Get Out last summer, the place was packed but all were accommodated as we scrunched in together. Some on the floor sprawled on blankets, others on folding chairs. They handed out wine and popcorn. All gratis as it's put on in conjunction with the Film Foundation.  Such a wonderful way to spend a summer evening, everyone under the stars enjoying a great film in a beautiful setting.

Janna Conner and son with parasol in purple garden at Underground Museum LA

The purple garden is one of my favorite spots in the museum. It was built last and was Noah's final installation along with his father to create a calm, contemplative spot for the neighborhood to enjoy and rejuvenate itself. Having also lost friends to cancer at too young an age, I think its such a beautiful place to commemorate and memorialize. To be surrounded by lavender, jacaranda and wisteria in this urban garden and to be able to sit and reflect is so lovely. They have brightly colored parasols, you can use to shade yourself from the sun or find inspirational meaning from the quotes hanging from a nearby tree. His family must find so much solace to be able to come here and feel his presence and see how much joy it brings visitors. It's a place to commune, to reflect and to connect. The museum hosts weekly meditation and yoga sessions,  and have readings and artist talks. All is not subdued though, they even hosted a block party at the end of December. See calendar here 

Diana Thater colored window panels at Underground Museum LA

Diana Thater - RGB Windows for MOCA adapted for the Underground Museum

Color PVC, metal brackets. "Color is nothing to be afraid of"

Janna Conner purple parasol and son selfie

Selfie time, smiles all around.

purple garden at the Underground Museum LA

Parasols and Amethyst Geodes complete the purple theme.

Purple Garden and Tropix Juice bar at Underground Museum LA

Tropix juice bar serves refreshing libations on hot days.

buddha quote at outdoor purple garden at Underground Museum LA

What you think you become. What you feel you attract. What you imagine, you create - Buddha

child with parasol walking at purple garden at Underground Museum LA

The Underground Museum

3508 W. Washington Blvd., Arlington Heights, Los Angeles 90018

Wednesday-Sunday, 12:00 noon-7:00pm. Artists of Color on till April 1, 2018


10 comments


  • tachira wiltshire

    What an interesting place to spend time at. I love the juice bar. It looks like an ultimately relaxing time here.


  • Lucy

    This place looks amazing. I love that they have yoga and meditation sessions too! What a great addition 💗


  • Susan, Call To Excellence Life Coaching

    What an amazing place – I will definitely add it to my list of places to visit the next time I visit LA. I can see why you love the purple garden – it looks like such a peaceful and serene setting!


  • Evelyn, PathofPresence

    Your endorsement of this establishment makes me want to go all the more! It appears to be a serene place to chill out and enjoy art. Simple as that. The passion behind this museum is evident through Mr. Davis and the pieces they display.


  • kumamonjeng

    Wow, look like an interesting museum to explore with family. It is really nice to receive water from the staff, I would never expect that. Such a warm gesture for a hot summer day!


Leave a comment



Discus Comments