Pasadena-area museums offer an embarrassment of riches. What other community has one of the world’s great art collections (the Norton Simon Museum), a collection of art galleries, a library and botanical gardens on the grounds of a former mansion (the Huntington), and a museum providing  activities for children and their families (Kidspace)?


This fall, these institutions and the city’s major museums will unveil a diverse range of exhibitions and activities.   


The Norton Simon Museum, for instance, is highlighting the work of two French painters: “Fragonard’s Enterprise: The Artist and the Literature of Travel,” an exhibition of 60 drawings created by Jean-Honoré Fragonard during his mid-18th century visit to Italy, opened in July and will remain on view until Jan. 4. “Indoor/Outdoor: Vuillard’s Landscapes and Interiors” will open on Oct. 16 and feature some of Édouard Villard’s lithographic prints and his large decorative painting “First Fruits.” 


A film series, “Entering Landscapes and Interiors: Patterned Textures and Domestic Intimacy,” will screen on Friday evenings from Oct. 23 through Nov. 13 and the afternoon of Sunday Dec. 13. Among the five films are “Big Fish” from director Tim Burton, “Mon oncle” by French director Jacques Tati, and the 1994 adaptation of “Little Women.” And on Nov. 21 the museum will host “Out of the Blue,” a program of dances by Pasadena choreographers Shauna Barger, Diane De Franco Browne and Jackie Kopcsak which uses dance and music to explore the color blue.   


The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens is mounting several exhibitions that explore what it means to be American and how American culture has been shaped by national and international influences. The exploration includes three exhibitions on display this fall: “American Made: Selections from The Huntington’s Early American Art Collections,” opens Saturday, Sept. 5, and features 25 artworks created between 1700 and 1888. “A World of Strangers: Crowds in America,” on display from Oct. 17 through April 4, features photographs and other works by George Bellows, Walker Evans and Weegee, among other artists. And “Y.C. Hong: Advocate for Chinese-American Inclusion” contains 75 items that recount the life of Hong, a prominent immigration attorney based in Los Angeles who was an active proponent of equal rights for Chinese Americans. The exhibition will be on view from Nov. 21 through March 21. 


The Pasadena Museum of California Art focuses on the California Arts and Crafts movement of the early 20th-century with two exhibitions. “Of  Cottages and Castles: The Art of California Faience” will feature more than 120 handcrafted works created by the Berkeley-based California Faience pottery studios, including some of the glazed tiles that architect Julia Morgan commissioned for Hearst Castle. A companion exhibition, “The Nature of William S. Rice: Arts Crafts Painter and Printmaker,” will display more than 50 of Rice’s watercolors. The two exhibitions, plus works by contemporary artist Robert Cremean, will be on display from Nov. 15 through April 3. 


The USC Pacific Asia Museum has organized “Reshaping Tradition: Contemporary Ceramics from East Asia,” to be displayed from Sept. 11 through Jan. 31. The exhibition features works by contemporary artists from China, Korea, Japan and Vietnam, as well as pre-modern ceramics from the museum’s permanent collection.  Bui Cong Khanh, one of the exhibiting artists, and Karen Koblitz, USC associate professor and head of the ceramics department, will discuss the exhibition during a conversation at the museum on Nov. 21.


The Armory Center for the Arts will present the work of Constance Mallinson, the final show in a nine-part, 19-month series exploring contemporary painting. Mallinson’s exhibition, “Free Painting,” examines the relationship between painting and the marketplace, particularly how after a painting is sold there is little communication with the artist about the work’s content and the artist’s intention. One of Mallinson’s oil paintings will be shown for a month, during which time people can apply to receive the painting for free. Mallinson will conduct videotaped interviews with the applicants about her oil painting and the state of contemporary painting. A panel of judges will select one applicant to receive the artwork, and a video showing the applicants’ interviews and judges’ comments will replace the painting for the duration of the exhibition. The exhibition runs from Sept. 26 through Nov. 28.      


The Pasadena Museum of History on Oct. 9 will unveil “Fabulous Fashion — Decades of Change: 1890s, 1920s, & 1950s,” examining how women’s fashions in these decades were shaped by economics, lifestyle and society. The exhibition will feature 40 garments and accessories from the museum’s collections to illustrate how women’s clothing moved from rigid structure in the 1890s to greater freedom in the 1920s and returned to restrictive dress in the 1950s. 


Kidspace Children’s Museum will celebrate Halloween with two events. First, the Kidspace Pumpkin Festival in Brookside Park on Oct. 17 and 18 will feature numerous activities, such as a costume parade, pumpkin picking from the museum’s pumpkin patch, a petting zoo, pony rides and carnival games. And at the Oct. 25 Halloween Hunt kids can dress in costume and trick-or-treat in the Kidspace Gardens for toys and healthy snacks. 

Other Kidspace fall activities include the Pepper Tree Music Jam Grand Opening on Nov. 7 and 8, Mad Science Day on Nov. 15 and Free Family Nights, with free admission to the museum from 4 to 8 p.m. on Oct. 6 and Nov. 3.

Armory Center for the Arts
145 N. Raymond Ave., Pasadena
(626) 792-5101 |

The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens
1151 Oxford Road, San Marino
(626) 405-2100 |

Kidspace Children’s Museum
480 N. Arroyo Blvd., Pasadena
(626) 449-9144 |

The Norton Simon Museum
411 W. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena
(626) 449-6840 |

Pasadena Museum of California Art
490 E. Union St., Pasadena
(626) 568-3665 |

Pasadena Museum of History
470 W. Walnut St., Pasadena
(626) 577-1660 |

USC Pacific Asia Museum
46 N. Los Robles Ave., Pasadena
(626) 449-2742 |