Visiting the Hilbert Museum of California Art

Just when I think I know every museum in the greater Los Angeles area up pops one I’ve never heard of. It happened again recently when I learned about an exhibit of Disney production art at the Hilbert Museum of California Art. Say what now? Where on earth is the Hilbert Museum? Turns out it’s part of the Chapman University campus in Old Towne Orange. My old stomping ground! I immediately knew I had to visit and one afternoon last week I stopped by.

Despite (technically) being on a university campus the museum is easy to locate as it’s right across from the Orange train station. Part of the university’s west campus, it occupies it’s own structure and offers ample parking right in front. And admission is free!

The museum opened last year thanks to a large donation of California art given by Mark and Janet Hilbert. Both California natives they began to collect California scene paintings in the 1990’s. Their collection grew to over 1,000 pieces consisting of a range of California themed art by such luminaries as Mary Blair and Millard Sheets.

I didn’t know any of this going in and was instantly enthralled by the rich collection documenting our beautiful state. Various locations from rural to urban are covered and several works are devoted to both Los Angeles and San Francisco.

As one fascinated by LA history I loved seeing contemporary paintings of such important sights like Angel’s Flight (open again, hooray!) and Bunker Hill.

As for the Disney Production Art exhibition that was pretty great, too.

I’m so glad the Hilbert Museum of California Art finally landed on my radar and I’m sure I’ll be visiting it several more times in the future.




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