Barnsdall Art Park

The Barnsdall Art Park has as its mission the presentation, promotion, enrichment, and development of the arts and artists of the Los Angeles region in all its cultural diversity. This is in keeping with the wishes of Aline Barnsdall, who donated Barnsdall Park to the City of Los Angeles for arts and recreational purposes, including the preservation of the historic architecture and landscape features. Located at the crest of Olive Hill, Barnsdall Park overlooks the city of Los Angeles. The park is centered on the National Historic Landmarked Hollyhock House and several other buildings on the grounds designed by architect Frank Lloyd Wright.


Barnsdall Park had its beginning in the early 1900s when Aline Barnsdall came to the West with plans to develop a new theatre company. In 1927, Aline Barnsdall donated the Park and its Frank Lloyd Wright designed structures to the city of Los Angeles, wishing to provide an accessible arts center that incorporated and preserved the famous Hollyhock House as a vital component. The spirit of Barnsdall's intention was to maintain an active arts center for the community with assured longevity.

The owner - Aline Barnsdall

Aline Barnsdall was a native of Bradford, Pennsylvania. William Barnsdall, her grandfather, drilled the second largest oil well in the United States, establishing the fortune that would finance Aline's philanthropy and her extensive travels. She was an unconventional, independent woman with a passion for the arts. In the 1910s, her interest in the future of the American stage led her to Chicago, Illinois, where she co-directed an experimental theatre company. While in Chicago, she met the equally unconventional Frank Lloyd Wright, whose recently completed Midway Gardens she admired. When a trip to California in 1915 turned Barnsdall's attention to Los Angeles, she hired Wright to help her develop an innovative theatrical community on the nation's cultural frontier.

The architect - Frank Lloyd Wright

Frank Lloyd Wright is America's best known architect. Wright was often absent during the actual construction of Hollyhock House, due to the demands of another major commission, the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo, Japan. Therefore, he entrusted supervision of the Barnsdall project to two young men who would later rank among Los Angeles's most prominent architects: his apprentice, Rudolph Schindler and his son, Lloyd Wright.

The building - Hollyhock House

The Aline Barnsdall Residence, known as Hollyhock House is the first Los Angeles project of Wright. Built between 1919 and 1921, it represents his earliest efforts to develop a regionally appropriate style of architecture for Southern California.

Taking advantage of the area's mild climate, Hollyhock House is a combination of house and garden. It is a remarkable example of the architect's love of nature and how he incorporated it into his designs. The House takes its name from the favorite flower of Wright's client, oil heiress Aline Barnsdall. At her request, Wright's abstract hollyhock pattern was incorporated into the decoration of the House.

Aline Barnsdall was an unconventional independent woman with a passion for the arts. In 1915 she commissioned Wright to help her develop an innovative theatrical community on the nation's cultural frontier. Selecting a thirty-six acre site known as Olive Hill, client and architect worked together to develop a plan that included a home for Barnsdall and her young daughter, two secondary residences, a theater, a director's house, a dormitory for actors, studios for artists, shops and a motion picture theater. Because of financial and artistic differences, only the two secondary residences and the Barnsdall home, Hollyhock House, were finally built.

In 1927 Aline Barnsdall gave Hollyhock House and eleven surrounding acres to the City of Los Angeles for use as a public park in memory of her father, Theodore Barnsdall. Additional buildings including a modern theatre, an art gallery and studios have been built on the property.

Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery

The Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery is a 10,000-square-foot (930 m2) venue that offers dramatic exhibition space for large, thematic group exhibitions and major retrospective exhibitions of individual work. The Junior Arts Center Gallery is a 2,000-square-foot (190 m2) venue that offers a more intimate space. At times the two spaces are linked by a single, large scale exhibition occupying both galleries.

Exhibitions program

The exhibitions program at Barnsdall Park produces approximately nine exhibitions of contemporary art each year at the Municipal Art Gallery. The mission of the program is to promote, interpret and present to the general public, the contemporary art of artists from culturally diverse Southern California. The curatorial focus includes painting, sculpture, photography, architecture, design, video, electronic, performance and installation works. Exhibits at Barnsdall Park serve over 45,000 visitors annually.

Barnsdall Gallery Theatre

Owned and operated by the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs Community Arts Division, this 299-seat fully-equipped and wheelchair-accessible Barnsdall Gallery Theatre is a low-price rental house for live theatre, dance, music, spoken word, lecture, film and for events of all kinds to individuals and organizations . The theatre is equipped with dual sound, lights, a HD ready digital projector, plus a built in 16mm film, slide and video projectors; as well as dressing rooms, spacious upper and lower lobbies with box office and refreshment counters.

The Barnsdall Gallery Theatre also co-produces a variety of community events in the theatre, including many popular FREE programs, including "Independent Shakespeare Company", Silverlake Conservatory of Music's "Music Summer Camps", and many yearly festivals including the "Thai Festival" and "Artwallah."

Now in its third year, the "Independent Shakespeare Company, at the Barnsdall Art Park, is an on-going, free to the public, live series being held on an outdoor stage, overlooking the hills of Hollywood. In 2004, in association with the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs, the Independent Shakespeare Company (ISC) established a residency in Barnsdall Art Park, the hidden jewel of Hollywood. The summer season was kicked off with a gala performance of "The Two Gentlemen of Verona". Twelve performances, offered free to the public, followed.

In October 2004, the ISC toured "Richard III" to France as part of the 100th anniversary of the Entente Cordiale, the only Shakespeare performance in France to be honored in this way. This production returned to Los Angeles as part of Free Shakespeare in Barnsdall Art Park 2005, performed in rotation with "The Two Gentlemen of Verona" and "Hamlet."

In 2005, the ISC returned to Barnsdall Art Park with a new production of "Hamlet", running in repertory with "Richard III" and encore performances of "The Two Gentlemen of Verona." And in 2006, the ISC has returned once again to the Barnsdall Art Park with the productions of "As You Like It" and "Hamlet."

The ISC helps to serve our community through creating inspiring, accessible theater and bringing it to as wide an audience as possible. The outdoor stage averages 200 to 300 people each evening, ready to enter the world of Shakespeare.

Now in its second year, the Silverlake Conservatory of Music presents "'Music Summer Camps,'" bringing music to young people inside the Barnsdall Gallery Theatre. A team of professional master musicians present a music program combining academic information with live performance. The musicians perform their music, and then "break it down" explaining how their instrument fits into the rhythm, the chord structure, and the mood or melody of a piece.

Young people who are interested in a musical career are able to experience learning from professionals. For those with little knowledge about the musical art form, this program builds awareness and interest.

The Barnsdall Gallery Theatre also produces festivals, some of which include theatre events at Barnsdall Art Park. These festivals, such as the "Thai Festival" and "Artwallah" present a wonderful forum for the expression of the arts and an opportunity to learn about the city's cultural heritage. Festivals also increase harmony between ethnic and cultural groups and create a positive climate among all people in this city enriching the communities we serve.

The Gallery Theatre is a 229-seat venue available for rental at a nominal fee for individuals and organizations.

Barnsdall Art Center

The Barnsdall Art Center provides college level art instruction at low cost in a unique Frank Lloyd Wright building. The center is temporarily housed in the Junior Arts Center due to the Frank Lloyd Wright building being closed due to safety reasons. The Barnsdall Art Center Student Advisory Committee (B.A.C.S.A.C.) is the organization that provides support and student influence for the centers' growth. The non-profit organization provides volunteer services with registration and assists financially covering programs and classes that the city is unable to fund.

The Junior Arts Center

The Junior Arts Center and Gallery are dedicated to the development of the creative process in children and teens. The vision and mission encourage curiosity, creativity, and all aspects of human development. Children at the center come from all ethnicities, religions and economic levels. Programs include the Living Arts Program that provides arts experience for children with special needs and the Barnsdall Goes to the Library program that presents workshops free of charge at local libraries.

The Junior Arts Center offers extensive art programs to children and youth ages three to eighteen, including many unique programs designed to serve the needs of children of Los Angeles. Art instruction held at the Center throughout the year includes drawing, painting, film making, printmaking, acting, photography and sculpture. Parent/child classes are also available. The Living Arts Program serves as a national model in arts education for special needs youth. The Junior Arts Center Children's Gallery features the work of young artists. The Center's location within the beautiful city park lends itself to a variety of multicultural festivals, celebrations and family outings.

The Junior Arts Center Gallery provides family oriented exhibitions of both children and adults work as well as interactive exhibits for the entire family. Annual Special Events include Dia de los Muertos and Aline Barnsdall Day, Culmination of Children's classes, and Barnsdall Art Center Students exhibit.

Building Activity

  • OpenBuildings
    OpenBuildings updated a digital reference
    about 6 years ago via Annotator
  • OpenBuildings
    OpenBuildings updated a digital reference and added a digital reference
    about 6 years ago via