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The Ultimate LA Family Guide ™
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Bergamot Station in Santa Monica
Bergamot Station is located at 2525 Michigan Ave. In Santa Monica. While it was designed by respected artists, to the amateur artist at LawithKids.com the Bergamot station buildings seem very plain and industrial from the outside. Don’t expect to see the Getty structure or large fountains and grass courtyards. Nonetheless, LAwithKids.com has heard about Bergamot Station for years, and for one reason or another we never checked it out. Our biggest concern was whether the venue was family-friendly enough for us. I think waiting for our children to be seven was a great idea, but I am sure that six-year-olds would also have a great time there. On the other end of the spectrum I think there is something enjoyable at Bergamot for all children over 6 as well as adults at any age. Every gallery was very nice to our family and there were no hard sales to buy art. In fact most galleries simply had a price sheet posted on a wall if you wanted to grab it.
The Los Angeles area has many great places for art including LACMA, the Getty, Norton Simon, the Huntington, to name a few. What is unique about Bergamot station is that it has both free parking and there is no entrance fee. Bergamot Station station also represented a great diversity in terms of the art it represented including paintings, sculptures, to cityscape photography. There is free parking surrounding Bergamot station as well as a parking lot.
Bergamot Station is a collection of private art galleries, a small art museum called the Santa Monica Museum of Art, and a great cafe. While some galleries have been around for years, there are others that have come and gone over the years. On our visit we enjoyed a beautiful gallery with colorful, tasteful jewelry, a Florist that seemed to specialize in succulents, and viewing a series of galleries that featured paintings, sculptures, and photography. Speaking of photography, with the exception of one gallery, every gallery we visited allowed us to take our own photography. My daughter who aspires to be a scientist and artist was also given some postcards that represented a work or two of the artist or artist on display at each gallery. One gallery specialized in photography of chain stores that exist throughout the country. What was unique about this is how landscapes across the country are often re-shaped by very familiar store icons. It also showed us how in other parts of the country there are chains that we are not prevalent in the LA area. The florist shop that I mentioned on the outside had plants that were growing for several feet on a wall, out of a basketball hoop as well as out of a Mercedes.
My children really liked The latin American Masters gallery which has been at Bergamot since 2009 and been around since 1987. It was our children’s first view of the Art of renowned Mexican artist Francisco Toledo. A gentleman who appeared to be in charge of the gallery was very friendly to my entire family and told us some unique facts about Toledo as well as the other artists on display.
The Santa Monica Museum of Art had a few artists it was featuring, but most notably they showcased an artist who did larger than life paintings that used a lot of sequins and jewels. There was also another gallery display that you could only see by looking into a small hole on a door. Inside looked like at 1970’s hip apartment. There was even funky music playing.
After walking through several galleries, you made need to stop for lunch or a snack. The Bergamot cafe is a casual place that seems to really pay attention to the food they make with delicious sounding salad and sandwiches. We had already had lunch so we settled in with a couple of types of brownies.
Like most art museums, there may be some subject matter that you find unsuitable for your children. Our advice is to visit the museum with at least two adults and have one adult do a brief preview of each gallery prior to entering it. This will help avoid any uncomfortable situations. There was only one exhibit with mature material and there was a sign before we entered so we were definitely warned.
It was a great venue to go to with children, and it furthered my children’s interest in art.