SID Heads to Los Angeles for Display Week 2008
Without the display industry, there would be no Hollywood, so it makes perfect sense for Display Week 2008 to take place in the entertainment capital of the world. Here is a guide to what to do and see in Los Angeles when not at Display Week 2008.
by Jessica Quandt
REGARDLESS OF whether or not you actually have ever been there, chances are you have already seen your fair share of Los Angeles. For the better part of a century, the iconic imagery of Tinseltown (Fig. 1) has pervaded in both still and moving images: palm trees, beaches, abundant sunshine, swank shopping streets populated by the super-rich, and the super-beautiful celebrities roaming among mere mortals, surfing, theme parks, and ultra-luxurious homes.
So which of these myriad images represents the real "City of Angels"? You will find L.A. is all of these things when you come during Display Week 2008: The SID International Symposium, Seminar & Exhibition. Here's a quick snapshot of what to do when visiting Los Angeles.
Despite its popular image as the center of slackers and surfers, actors, and waiters who want to be actors, L.A. is actually quite the cultural and international mecca. The city boasts an impressive 300 museums.
Perhaps the most famous museum in the city is the J. Paul Getty Museum, in part because of its vast collection of art and in part because of its stunning setting and design. The museum houses an enormous collection of European paintings, drawings, manuscripts, sculpture, and decorative arts, as well as European and American photography, all set in a gorgeous, sprawling $1.2 billion modernist hilltop complex designed by famed architect Richard Meier, affording views all the way to the Pacific Ocean. The museum, to which admission is free, is also home to the spectacular 134,000-square-foot Central Garden, which you can tour for free by making arrangements online prior to your visit.
Also under the Getty umbrella is The Getty Villa in the scenic L.A. community of Pacific Palisades, an educational center and museum dedicated entirely to the arts and cultures of ancient Greece, Rome, and Etruria. The museum's structure is an amalgamation of features from several well-known ancient Roman villas, complete with a giant reflective pool in the inner courtyard. Admission to the Villa is also free, but timed tickets must be purchased in advance online.
For something a little out of the ordinary, head over to the world-famous La Brea Tar Pits. The central feature of this site is exactly what it sounds like: big, goopy tar pits from which scientists have salvaged the world's largest and most diverse collection of extinct plant and animal remains. The site includes the Page Museum (adults $7), where you can get a glimpse of L.A. as it was 10,000–40,000 years ago. Sights in the museum include replicas and real skeletons of extinct animals such as mammoths and saber-tooth cats (most of which were actually found in the Tar Pits outside), and a window where you can watch bones recently excavated from the tar pits being cleaned. For another educational outing, check out the California Science Museum, the West Coast's largest hands-on science museum, which is free to visit.
The Natural History Museum of L.A. (adults $9, children $2 has 33 million specimens and artifacts on display, including full skeletons of a Tyrannosaurus rex and a Triceratops in battle, dioramas of African mammals, rare dinosaur fossils, marine animals, and a gem and mineral hall boasting the largest collection of gold in the U.S.
The L.A. County Museum of Art (LACMA) exhibits works from its collection of more than 100,000 works of contemporary, Latin American, European, Islamic, and Korean art (among others); this museum on Wilshire Boulevard is a world-class institution that is also a great bargain: admission is $9, but it is free after 5:00 p.m. A new Modern Art wing designed by renowned architect Renzo Piano was scheduled to open in February.
If you are after something a little more glamorous (this is Los Angeles, after all), try the Hollywood Museum (adults $15). Located in the historic art-deco-style Max Factor Building, this museum is dedicated to entertaining and educating the public about the art, history, techniques, and technology of the entertainment industry, and its worldwide cultural effects. Items on exhibit include costumes and props from your favorite films, an extensive autograph collection, rare and vintage photos of Hollywood icons, and everything from Sylvester Stallone's Rocky gloves to Cary Grant's Rolls Royce.
Although L.A. offers a plethora of museums, there is so much to see and learn around the city that you may never have to set foot in one! One of the area's most popular tourist destinations is Grauman's Chinese Theater (Fig. 2). Opened on May 18, 1927, this Hollywood landmark receives more than 4 million visitors each year, who come to ogle the pagoda-style architecture of the theater, marvel at the artifacts and art imported from China that decorate the inside of the building, and see the latest Hollywood releases on the big screen. But most of all, they come to see the theater's forecourt, where more than 200 stars have left their handprints and footprints embedded in the cement. Stars immortalized in the forecourt include everyone from Charlie Chaplin to Tom Cruise to Donald Duck.
Fig. 2: Grauman's Chinese Theater is the famous movie theater where stars have had their handprints and footprints cast in cement for more than 75 years.
The Hollywood Walk of Fame™ & © 2002 Hollywood Chamber of Commerce,Licensed by Global Icons, LC. All Rights Reserved
Fig. 3: The Hollywood Walk of Fame extends 3.5 miles and features more than 2000 plaques commemorating legends of the entertainment industry, such as actress Sharon Stone.
Next door to Grauman's you'll find the famous Kodak Theatre. Opened in 2001, this $94 million theater modeled after classic European opera houses is home to the annual Academy Awards ceremony. For $15, you can take a guided tour of the theater and find out who sat where at the entertainment world's biggest night of the year.
If that's not enough star power for you, head over to the Hollywood Walk of Fame (Fig. 3). Running East to West on Hollywood Boulevard from Gower Street to La Brea Avenue, and North to South on Vine Street between Yucca Street and Sunset Boulevard, this 3.5-mile stretch of pavement features tributes to more than 2000 celebrities. Familiar pink five-pointed stars bear the names of icons of film, TV, radio, live theater, and music – each celebrity's field is denoted by a bronze movie camera, television, radio microphone, set of tragedy and comedy masks, or phonograph, respectively.
For a different kind of stargazing, make arrangements to visit the Griffith Observatory. Located in the park of the same name, this beautiful observatory was completed in 1935 and made famous in the classic James Dean movie Rebel Without a Cause. Admission to the observatory is free, although the shuttle up to the site costs $8 per person. Once you reach the observatory, purchase tickets in person for a show at the planetarium, or just enjoy the free public telescopes and astronomy exhibits.
Outdoor Activities and Architecture
Los Angeles is perhaps just as famous for its beaches as it is for the celebrities whose homes overlook them. Santa Monica Beach, Manhattan Beach, Paradise Cove, and Redondo Beach are all popular choices for a relaxing day in the surf and sun. For a somewhat wilder day at the beach, head for Venice Beach (Fig. 4), where 3 miles of coastline and palm trees provide the setting for colorful storefronts and an old-time boardwalk frequented by a vibrant mix of street performers, bodybuilders, and rollerbladers. The beachfront is located in the charming city of Venice, which, as the name suggests, was originally constructed using 16 miles of man-made canals as streets. Today, less than 2 miles of canals remain (the bulk were eventually filled in with cement to make navigation easier by car and on foot), but there are still some beautiful canal-front houses to be seen.
The Santa Monica Pier (Fig. 5) is another great choice for a beach experience with some extra flavor. Constructed in 1909, this beach boardwalk is home to an arcade, a historic carousel, an amusement park (featuring the world's only solar-powered Ferris wheel, which provides views of the Pacific Ocean, and a roller coaster circling the majority of the park), and an aquarium, not to mention various shops, restaurants, and vendor carts.
Fig. 4: Venice Beach stretches 3 miles along the Pacific Ocean, with an old-time boardwalk frequented by a vibrant mix of street performers, bodybuilders, and rollerbladers.
Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) is the world's fifth-busiest passenger airport. Most major airlines offer service into and out of LAX, with non-stop flights to/from most major U.S. and Asian cities. Taxi service between LAX and downtown Los Angeles costs $42. For more information about the airport, including additional ground transportation options, visit the LAX Web site at www.lawa.org/lax.
Other nearby airports include Orange County/John Wayne Airport (SNA) www.ocair.com; Long Beach Airport (LGB) www.lgb.org; LA/Ontario International Airport (ONT) www.lawa.org/ont; and Bob Hope Airport in Burbank (BUR) www.burbankairport.com
While Los Angeles is the capital of U.S. car culture, the city actually has the second largest public transportation agency in the U.S., operating more than 1500 buses and a subway with four lines, three of which run through downtown, where Display Week 2008 will take place. The subway, called the Metro, can take you from Downtown Los Angeles to Hollywood in about 12 minutes. For more information, visit www.mta.net.
Ironically enough, some of the most appealing outdoor sights in Los Angeles are not easily viewed while standing out in the fresh air. If you have rented a car for the week, be sure to take a drive through some of the area's ritziest neighborhoods, where you will see spectacular homes with unbelievable views.
Start with Mulholland Drive, which follows the ridgeline of the Santa Monica Mountains and the Hollywood Hills. Try to keep your eyes on the road as views of the L.A. Basin, San Fernando Valley, the famous Hollywood Sign, and downtown Los Angeles pass by your window. As the views might suggest, Mulholland is also home to some of the area's most beautiful and expensive homes. The roster of famous residents of this storied street reads like a Who's Who of Hollywood, including Jack Nicholson, Marlon Brando, and Tom Hanks.
Only one neighborhood, though, can claim the honor having the most expensive housing market in the country: Beverly Hills. With a median home price of $2.2 million, Beverly Hills has quite an offering of gawk-worthy homes. And no trip to Beverly Hills is complete without a shopping excursion (or at least window shopping) on world-famous Rodeo Drive.
Everyone knows the stars live in Los Angeles. But the metropolitan area is a big place to say the least, covering 469 square miles and accommodating nearly 4 million residents, according to a 2006 census. So with so much ground to cover, how do you find out where your favorite stars live? Easy, pay someone to show you. A handful of companies offer guided bus tours that will spend several hours taking you down some of the area's most exclusive streets and pointing out the homes of major celebrities along the way. Star Line Tours offers 2-hour tours for about $36 per person, with pick-ups available in L.A., Hollywood, and West Hollywood.
For a better shot at seeing the stars in the flesh, your best bet is to follow them to work! Many major movie and TV studios offer guided tours of their lots (prices vary by studio), and tours frequently include stops on sets where movies and television shows are currently being filmed. Many studios are now located outside of Los Angeles and Hollywood, so be sure to check the location before buying your tickets if you're not renting a car for the week. Studios that offer tours include Universal Studios, Warner Brothers., Paramount, and Sony.
For a sure-fire way to get in a celebrity sighting, reserve tickets in advance to be in the audience at the taping of a TV show. Many shows offer free audience tickets that can be reserved online through a number of free services, including Audiences Unlimited.
Southern California is a theme-park junkie's dream come true, with a cornucopia of parks to fit anyone's taste. The most famous is, of course, Disneyland (adults $66), located about 20 minutes from L.A. in Anaheim. With its staff of roaming life-sized cartoon characters, fantasy-themed rides, and trademark air of magic, Disneyland is sure to bring out the kid in anyone.
In the nearby city of Buena Park, you will find a theme park built around another animated empire: Knott's Berry Farm (adults $49.95; ticket discounts available online), populated by Snoopy, Charlie Brown, Lucy, and the rest of the gang from the Peanuts comic strips. The rides here are bigger than Disney's, making it a better bet for anyone seeking more thrills than theatrics.
• Los Angeles Convention & Visitor's Bureau:www.greaterlosangeles.com
• Los Angeles Public Transportation: www.mta.net
• Los Angeles International Airport (LAX):www.lawa.org/lax
• City of Beverly Hills: www.beverlyhills. org
• Venice Beach: www.westland.net/venice
• California Science Museum:www.californiasciencecenter.org
• Getty Center: www.getty.edu/
• Hollywood Museum: www.thehollywoodmuseum.com
• La Brea Tar Pits and the Page Museum: www.tarpits.org/
• L.A. County Museum of Art: www. lacma.org
• Natural History Museum of Los Angeles: www.nhm.org
• Grauman's Chinese Theater: www. manntheaters.com/chinese/ index.php
• Griffith Observatory: www.griffith observatory.org
• Hollywood Sign: www.hollywoodsign. org
• Hollywood Walk of Fame:http://www.hollywoodchamber.net/icons/walk_directory.asp
• Kodak Theatre: www.kodaktheatre.com
• Santa Monica Pier: www.santamonicapier.org
• Star Line Tours: www.starlinetours.com
• TV Show Tapings: www.audiencesunlimited.com
• Paramount: http://www.paramount.com/paramount.php
• Sony: www.sonypicturesstudios.com/
• Universal Studios Hollywood:www.|universalstudioshollywood.com
• Warner Bros.: http://www.warnerbros.com/vipstudiotour/
• Disneyland: http://disneyland. disney.go.com
• Knott's Berry Farm: www.knotts.com
• Six Flags Magic Mountain:www.sixflags.com/parks/magicmountain
Fig. 5: The Santa Monica Pier was built in 1909 and is home to an arcade, a historic carousel, and the world's only solar-powered Ferris wheel.
Another popular choice is Universal Studios Hollywood (adults $64). This park has it all: thrill rides based on hit movies such asThe Mummy, Shrek, and Jurassic Park; junk food; and even a guided tour of Universal's TV and film studios.
Between all the exhibits, seminars, and keynote addresses at this year's Display Week, you're sure to have more than enough to do during your time in Los Angeles. But try to make the time to go out and explore this surreal, unique, and, above all, iconic city. After all, no matter how many times you have seen it on TV or in the movies, there's nothing quite like experiencing L.A. and everything it has to offer in real life. •