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Artscapes: The Grammy Museum delivers the glitz and glamour of Hollywood

The Grammy Museum is located in the L.A. Live district in downtown Los Angeles. The museum’s permanent collection includes past models of awards, celebrity costumes and memorabilia dating back to the first awards in 1959. Currently on display at the museum is “George Harrison: Living in the Material World,” an exhibit on Harrison’s career from his time as a member of the Beatles to later projects and collaborations.

Before You Go

The Grammy Museum

  • Hours: Mon. "“ Fri. 11:30 a.m. "“ 7:30 p.m., Sat. "“ Sun. 10:00 a.m. "“ 7:30 p.m.
  • General Admission: $12.95, $11.95 for students with ID
  • Parking: Varies by lot, $5 for first 2 hours in L.A. Live designated lots
  • “George Harrison: Living in the Material World" exhibit runs through March 25
  • No Photos allowed

Compiled by Lauren Roberts, Bruin senior staff.

By Lauren Roberts

Feb. 22, 2012 12:27 a.m.

Lauren Roberts

The Grammy Museum was definitely designed for tourists looking for a bit of Los Angeles glitz.

Located in the heart of the L.A. Live district and just outside the glow of the Staples Center lights, the silvery building is a flashy testament to the awards that mark the music industry’s highest and sometimes most controversial honors.

I made my trip to the museum this week with the hope of catching a glimpse of some of last weekend’s leftover fanfare. And while I was unfortunately met with a gallery under construction and last year’s Grammys display, my visit was still a pleasant learning experience.

A swanky elevator ride leads visitors to the top floor of the museum, from which visitors must work their way down through a series of low-lit rooms and touch-screen displays.

As the elevator doors opened, I heard the museum before I saw it. Soulful sounds of performances past and teary-eyed acceptance speeches dating back to the Grammys’ beginnings are screened from the bottom to the ceiling of the top floor. It accompanies a display featuring Grammy awards from each phase of the miniature gramophone trophy’s designs, from the first 1959 award to present.

The museum is focused on audience participation ““ from interactive televisions for virtual songwriting collaboration, to headphones and electric guitar simulators. (My personal favorite was the chance to pretend I can play congas in the Latin Grammys section.)

However, costumes and awards memorabilia are the treasures of the museum’s permanent displays. And as a fan of fashion that I can’t afford, I found the red carpet costume display to be one of the museum’s more impressive features.

Gowns vary widely, from Jennifer Lopez’s infamous green plunging neckline Versace dress from the 2000 awards, to a ruffled black Dolce & Gabbana cocktail dress Amy Winehouse wore in her 2008 Grammys performance.

The museum did have a tendency to be over the top in some of its “relics.” Even as a fan of Florence Welch, I wasn’t all that excited at the sight of her torn dressing room sign from last year’s awards. Though I suppose the lesson is that even musical celebrities leave behind trash.

And though one gallery was under construction, I was fortunate to see the museum’s current visiting exhibit, “George Harrison: Living in the Material World.” The show is in conjunction with the recent Martin Scorsese HBO documentary of the same title, both of which chronicle Harrison’s life.

The exhibit surprised me with the sheer amount of items from every stage of Harrison’s career ““ from his time as the “quiet Beatle,” to solo projects and his later 1980s collaboration with the Traveling Wilburys.

However, I found the earlier pieces of Harrison’s life most charming ““ 1950s doodles of guitars and various string instruments in notebooks meant for an English architecture class, practice signatures and vintage postcards addressed to Harrison’s parents detailing his first trips from home.

A 1961 leather jacket marks Harrison’s earlier looks with the Beatles, while more colorful suits with Indian-inspired Sanskrit embroidery mark later moments in his solo career.

The Beatles fan in me was most excited to see the handwritten lyrics of nearly every Harrison song, written on a collection of crumpled notebook paper, torn envelopes and various stationary, including the scrawled ballpoint pen words to iconic songs “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” and “Something.”

While the Grammy Museum is definitely a lot of shine over substance, it worked its magic on me even while under construction. It’s a museum dedicated not so much to education, as the excitement that we find from our favorite musicians and the power of performance.

Are you searching for Los Angeles’ sparkle? Email Roberts at

[email protected] “Artscapes” runs every Wednesday.

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