The exhibit space has the feel of an artist's studio. Concrete floors, temporary walls, exposed pipes and ductwork - it was open, yet divided nicely into several time frames and themes. 1850-1920, 1925-1945, 1945-1980 and then a whole section devoted to contemporary work: MAJESTIC SPRAWL - Recent Los Angeles Photography

Along with about 10-12 other patrons, we casually strolled through the various spaces. We recognized the names of some photographers -- George Hurrell, Dorothea Lange, Edward Weston, Imogen Cunningham and Ansel Adams [famous for his rich, beautiful black and white photos of Yosemite National Park] but many in the more modern sections -- Douglas Muir, Amir Zaki, Soo Kim -- were unknown to us.

[Our new Recommendations page offers items of interest available from] Check it out.

"Everything worth photographing is in California" -- Edward Weston.

That quote is printed on one wall, and in this exhibit, that sentiment seems to hold true - with photographs spanning across history and subject matter.

We observed one incredible looking black and white picture of San Francisco Bay. Sharp and crisp with wonderful detail. It was dated 1879. Another large scale color print featured a lone shopping cart sitting in the middle of a darkly lit parking lot. Gorgeous color and really quite beautiful. It was taken just a few years ago. It made the pictures taken with my digital camera seem like a Kodak Instamatic.

In all, there were roughly 100 photographs on display. A well presented taste of California photography. Just enough museum to enjoy and to keep us wanting more.

Off the main lobby, was a temporary art installation separate from the photography exhibit entitled 'ravenwood.' Trippy and weird and modern.

The museum shop, although small, features contemporary hipster infused interiors, complete with sofas and chairs, and is certainly one of the most interesting museum shops we've seen. And perhaps the look and ambience of the shop made the more typical books, T-shirts and other art accessories feel new and fresh and different.

It should also be noted that the staff here was very, very cordial and friendly. Inside the exhibit space, a staff member is stationed to keep an eye on things. When she observed me scribbling notes on a museum program, she offered me a pad of PMCA paper. Once back to the lobby, this same staff member graciously took a picture of us - even stepping around from behind the counter to get a better angle of us. Simply outstanding customer service.

What's on the 3rd floor? It is a private residence belonging to Bob and Arlene Oltman -- the husband and wife who had the building and museum designed and built, and now live there. Is that cool, er what?

We ventured out into the wet and walked over a block to the soggy Paseo Colorado - Pasadena's newest open-air mall. [below]

After buying a new umbrella, [mine was broken] we sloshed around for about an hour, and then headed back to the car -- oops! -- which was still sitting in the PMCA parking garage. Walking back, and about 100 yards from the building I said "I wonder how late it stays open."

Right as we reached the garage, that same helpful PMCA staff member walked out of the garage and said "Is this your car?" It was 5:30 and the museum had closed at 5:00. Apparently they had been waiting for us for at least a few minutes. Major oops. After apologizing and thanking her profusely, we headed to the car and got out of there.

Note to self: Only park in the museum parking lot while visiting the museum.

We had a really enjoyable afternoon. Even in the weird and the rain. And we can see ourselves coming back to PMCA in the future. It's a great space, it's close to home, and it would be easy to make the trip. And they have some intriguing looking stuff for future exhibitions.

Maybe when it's not so wet and soggy. Which should be also be easy to do, as we only get two or three days of rain a year anyway.


Pasadena Museum of California Art
490 East Union Street
Pasadena CA 91101


Adults -- $6.00
Seniors -- [65+] - $4.00
Children - [under 12] - Free
Students - [with valid ID] - Free
Parking - Free

Admission is free the first Friday of the month from 5pm - 8pm.
Access for people with disabilities is provided.

I thought it was really great. It was fun seeing the pictures by Dorothea Lange, the famous photographer who I recognized from 'Golden Dreams' in Disney's California Adventure. I would recommend it to anyone interested in looking at photographs. The museum shop was super cool.

I didn't expect to like an exhibit on photography, but I really did. It surprised me to see so many photographers that I recognized. The show was economically put together, with just enough content to give you a flavor -- without getting overloaded. Plus, it was so easy to get to -- and provided no stress -- which is incentive enough to go back.

To have this new museum in our own backyard is pretty exciting stuff. And what a great space. If the Oltmans ever want to move out of their 3rd floor apartment -- we are there!

Continue the Madness -- go to the Charles Schulz Museum -- Good Grief !
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