The Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena


The Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena

411 West Colorado Boulevard

Pasadena, California 91105

(626) 449-6840

Written by Scott Messmore

The Norton Simon Museum houses one of the best art collections in the nation and draws ample praise from experts and the media. Named by some as the best art collection in the western United States, the Norton Simon Museum is frequently given credit for having a superior collection of art than the more famous Getty Museum, also located in the Los Angeles area. Named for art patron and entrepreneur Norton Simon, the museum owns one of the world's most impressive collections every assembled by one man. Founded at the Pasadena Art Institute in 1924, the collections focus on European art from the age of the Renaissance to the 20th century. The Norton Simon Museum owns works by Renoir, Raphael, Botticelli, Rubens, Rembrandt, Manet, Monet, Degas, van Gogh, Watteau, Fragonard, Goya, Toulouse-Lautrec, Picasso and Matisse. Degas' artwork is especially well represented with bronzes, paintings, drawings, pastels and prints. The museum collections also hold sculptures from India and the cultures of Asia. The museum recently underwent a $6 million renovation that redesigned the 51,000 square feet of galleries. A 79,000 square foot garden inspired by a Claude Monet painting was created outside of the museum. The Norton Simon Museum also has a 290-seat, movie theater that shows a half hour film on the life and art collections of Norton Simon. The large galleries of the Norton Simon Museum enable 1,000 works of art to be regularly shown to the public.

Norton Simon

Norton Simon has been called an art collector of genius, but he was also very successful in business. Simon also gave much of his time to civic duties in addition to the world of art. Simon invested in a struggling food company when he was only 24 years old. The little company would later evolve into food industry giant Hunt Foods. Simon served as a member of the University of California Board of Regents and on the board of the Los Angeles Music Center. Simon led the way to establish the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in the early 1960s plus the reorganization of the Pasadena Museum of Modern Art, the art collection that would one day bear his name. Simon collected art for a quarter of a century and wasted little time loaning his artistic treasures to museums around the globe. In fact, the Getty Museum tried to buy his collection but could not. Simon fought with a neurological disorder for nearly a decade before passing away in 1992 and the age of 85.

Hours of Operation and Location

The Norton Simon Museum is located at 411 West Colorado Boulevard, Pasadena. The museum is open from noon to 6 p.m., Wednesday to Monday and until 9 p.m., Friday nights. Admission to the museum is: adults, $6; seniors, $3; students, museum members and children under 18 years are admitted for free. Parking is on site and free. Reservations aren't required to visit the museum at any time, but they are required for a private tour.

For more information about the Norton Simon Museum, call 626-449-6840.

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