4 Lessons I Learned by Visiting LACMA

If you live in the LA area and haven’t visited LACMA, you’re missing out on one of our city’s gems.  With an impressive permanent collection and fantastic traveling exhibitions on display, a trip to this art museum never disappoints.  It’s one of my go-to places to take out of town guests.  Such was the case on the Friday following Thanksgiving, when my husband, in-laws, and I piled into the car and headed to LACMA.

As I browsed around, taking in everything from paintings by Picasso to ancient Indian carvings with mind-blowing attention to detail, I couldn’t help but relate the LACMA experience to home decorating.  It struck me that some of the tactics LACMA’s curators employ can be put to work in the home.  Here’s what I learned…

1. Use Color to Establish a Mood

4 Lessons I Learned from LACMA | Color

Each room is saturated in a single shade befitting the subject matter.  The the ancient Indian art I mentioned earlier was housed in a sea of deep, espresso brown, imparting a sense of history.  By contrast, more contemporary and provocative works of art hung against a background of sterile white.  Furthermore, as I moved around the various exhibits at LACMA, the different colored walls served as a clue as to what world I would enter next: the sobering world of Weimar Republic or the mysterious realm of “The Magic Medium”.  Regardless of the discipline, color made the first impression and began the process of establishing an atmosphere appropriate for that particular room.  This is also true in the home where bedrooms tend to come in soothing shades, while dining rooms are often painted in energizing hues.

2. Diverse Works of Art Can Live in Close Proximity

4 Lessons I Learned at LACMA | Diversity

Although each room in LACMA is thematic, that theme is not always instantly apparent.  Paintings, sculptures, and installations coexist in a space and, when the common thread that unites them isn’t obvious, I find myself more intrigued.  The same can be said for the art in your home.  If the pieces seem disparate, that’s ok.  The unifying element is your individual  taste–a function of your beautiful, multi-faceted personality.

3. Frames (or Lack thereof) Matter

4 Lessons I Learned at LACMA | Frames Matter

A painting’s frame is an important extension of the art, the artist, or even the art owner.  In some cases, the frame is a better indicator of time period than the art itself.  A frame’s color might pick up and emphasize and important shade within the piece.  By the same token, a simple–or even an absent–frame might focus the attention on the art’s message.  If you’ve ever had anything custom-framed, you know that the possibilities are endless and sometimes overwhelming.  If such an endeavor is in your future, take a page out of LACMA’s book and let the art–and how you feel about it–guide you.

4. Plexiglass is Your Friend

4 Lessons I Learned from LACMA | Plexiglass

A friend with an energetic 10-year-old and Chihuly glass art in storage recently asked me if she should retrieve her delicate treasures and display them in plexiglass cases or just wait until her son was older and skip the plexiglass.  I was emphatically in favor of the former and my recent trip to LACMA only reinforced my position on the matter.  While seemingly overtly utilitarian, a protective encasement can denote a sense of preciousness (not unlike the frame of a painting).  If museums like LACMA use them to to surround priceless artifacts, why can’t home decorators use them to display and protect everything from Chihuly glass art to their children’s pottery?


Note: All photos in this post are from LACMA’s instagram feed, which I follow highly recommend.


  1. I was JUST at a Chihuly exhibit and wondering how people can keep their art displayed when kids, cats, dogs, etc live in their homes. I love this blog. All great ideas. I think I will start by putting kid art and kid photos interspersed in my whole way. Nice.

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