The Norton Simon is small enough to cover in a couple of hours and you don’t feel like you’re missing much if you have the family in tow and the little ones get bored. My kiddo has wandered many a museum around the world, so she’s pretty good, wanting to know what each placard says and more recently wondering why so many people are without clothing!
The upper level houses art from the 14th-20 centuries with an impressive collection of Degas, Picasso, and Rembrandt. Degas is especially well represented here as it is the permanent home of one of the Little Dancer, aged fourteen sculptures. Currently, there is an entire special exhibit dedicated to the sculptures of Degas on the lower level. The lower level also feeds my interest in South & Southeast Asian artwork with Buddha and Shiva statues at every glance.
The museum houses a theater that features a variety of art films and documentaries, but also mainstream movies. When they held a special exhibit of Andy Warhol that featured a painting of the title of the 1982 film, Annie, they showed the beloved movie in the theater. Around the outside of the museum, you will find a sculpture garden with an easy, walkable path around a pond filled with ducks and tadpoles, as well as several impressive sculptures, including many by Rodin. There is also an outdoor cafe and one of my all-time favorite museum stores. Not only can you take home artwork featuring your favorite piece, but there is a huge selection of children’s educational toys, an endless amount of stationary, and an art book library like I’ve never seen.
The Norton Simon does not feel like a trek where you have to dedicate your entire day to art gazing. It’s easy and accessible while being one of those places where you can visit old favorites and see some featured exhibits.
Here are my other picks for culture in Pasadena:
The Pasadena Playhouse
The Huntington Library (see blog post here).
The Pasadena Museum of California Art
The Boston Court Performing Arts Theatre