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Los Angeles County Museum of Art from “My So-Called Life”

Feb 17th, 2011 | By | Category: My So-Called Life Filming Locations

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Since I spend the majority of my weekends dragging the Grim Cheaper out on various stalking adventures, this past Saturday, in honor of our first Valentine’s Day together as a married couple, I decided to create a scavenger hunt for him based on his many likes and hobbies.  I do have to admit that while most of our destinations were places that I had little to no interest in visiting, the hunt was not entirely an un-selfish endeavor on my part.  A few of our stops were, in fact, stalking locations – most notably the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, aka LACMA, which was featured in an episode of fave show My So-Called Life.  As I mentioned a few weeks back, I just recently started re-watching My So-Called Life from the beginning and I became just a bit obsessed with tracking down the museum where Angela Chase (aka Claire Danes) and the gang go on a field trip in the episode titled “Why Jordan Can’t Read”.  Because the series was filmed so prominently in the Pasadena area, I had a hunch that the museum used was the Huntington Library – a place where I just so happen to have a filming contact.  So, I emailed a few screen captures from the episode over to Dinah, my contact, to see if she could confirm or deny my suspicion.  As it turns out, though, my hunch was wrong – hey, it does happen!  Winking smile – Huntington was not the museum which appeared in the episode.  Thankfully though, Dinah knows her museums!  She informed me that she was 99.9% certain that filming had taken place at LACMA.  So, because the GC absolutely LOVES visiting museums, while I typically do not, I immediately added the place to his Valentine’s Day scavenger hunt and we headed out there this past Saturday morning.  And, let me tell you, once he found out that we would spending the day at a museum, he could NOT have been more excited.

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In the “Why Jordan Can’t Read” episode of My So-Called Life, Angela and her classmates, Jordan Catalano (aka Jared Leto), Rayanne Graff (aka A.J. Langer), Rickie Vasquez (aka Wilson Cruz), and Brian Krakow (aka Devon Gummersall), spend the morning on a field trip at a supposed Three Rivers, Pennsylvania-area museum, during which Jordan is nice to Angela, as she says, “like out of nowhere!”

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Because the museum has been remodeled in recent years and various artworks relocated to different galleries, it was quite difficult to pinpoint the exact spot where filming had taken place.  I had a few clues to help me out on my quest, though, most notably a set of numbers that was visible in the background of several scenes.  As you can see in the above screen captures, those numbers were all in the 200 range.

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Oddly enough, though, I could only find numbers like that in one area of the museum – on the third floor of the Hammer Building in the Art of the Ancient World section – yet those numbers were all in the 300 range, which left me completely puzzled.  As fate would have it, though, I happened to run into an EXTREMELY helpful and EXTREMELY friendly museum docent who became determined to assist me with my quest.  I had downloaded twenty or so screen captures from the “Why Jordan Can’t Read” episode onto the GC’s iPad – which he was gifted for Christmas from his boss and which is an absolutely AMAZING stalking tool – which I proceeded to show to my new friend.  After seeing those 200 numbers, he informed me that the third level of the Hammer building was actually known as the second level back in the ‘90s when My So-Called Life was filmed, and had only be re-numbered in recent years during the remodel.  Which meant that I was in the right spot!  Yay!

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By looking at the screen captures, the docent and I were able to determine that all of the filming of the episode had taken place on the now third floor (former second floor) of the museum’s Hammer Building in the Charles E. and Flora L. Thornton Gallery and a few of the smaller galleries which surround it.

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As you can see in the above screen capture and photograph, the wainscoting on the gallery walls and the molding on the gallery entrances match up perfectly to what appeared onscreen.

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Once I figured out that I was in the right place, I then proceeded to go on a scavenger hunt of my very own to track down a few of the specific works of art that had appeared in the episode.  And, let me tell you, I had an absolute blast doing so!  In fact, it was quite possibly the most fun that I have had at a museum in my entire life!  A few of the works that I was able to locate include a Rembrandt portrait;

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a painting titled “Portrait of Cardinal Roberto Ubaldino” by Guido Reni;

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the sculptures that Angela, Jordan, and Brian looked at;

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the portrait that Angela and Jordan were standing in front of when he invited her to watch his band, the Frozen Embryos, rehearse;

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and the scary-looking sculpture that the camera panned in on towards the end of the museum scene.

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I was most excited, though, to spot the statute where Jordan and Angela first started talking in the episode.

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And I, of course, just had to re-create Jordan’s pensive stare after I found it, which the GC was NOT at all happy about.  Winking smile The statue is currently displayed on a much shorter base than it was when My So-Called Life was filmed, which is why it appears to be so much lower to the ground in my photograph than it appeared onscreen.

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Sadly, the sculpture room where Sharon Cherski (aka Devon Odessa) and her boyfriend Kyle Vinnovich (aka Johnny Green) spent the majority of the field trip has since been dismantled.  Although I did manage to locate one of the sculptures which appeared in that scene.

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Even sadder still was the fact that I could not for the life of me track down the display case where Rayanne inadvertently left Angela’s love letter to Jordan.

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The very same area of LACMA also appears briefly in the 1991 comedy L.A. Story, in the scene in which Harris K. Telemacher (aka Steve Martin) roller-skates through a museum while his friend Ariel (aka Susan Forristal) video-tapes his exploits.

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The “Portrait of Cardinal Roberto Ubaldino”, which appeared in My So-Called Life, was also featured in L.A. Story.

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As was Jordan and Angela’s statue.  Love it!

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LACMA was also the site of the black-and-white ball, to which superstar Cher wore red, in 1992’s The Player.

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In the Season 4 episode of Melrose Place titled “Drawing Henry”, Brooke Armstrong (aka Kristin Davis) and Jack Parezi (aka Antonio Sabato Jr.) meet up at LACMA to discuss their burgeoning affair and wind up being spotted by Billy Campbell (aka Andrew Shue).

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Located in front of LACMA’s main entrance is the famous Urban Light display, which I blogged about back in April of last year after its appearance in a Vanity Fair photo shoot featuring the male members of the cast of Glee.  That very same light instillation was also used in the recently-released No Strings Attached, in the scene in which Adam (aka Ashton Kutcher) takes Emma (aka Natalie Portman) out on a Valentine’s Day date.  LACMA was also featured in Breaking All The Rules, Strong Medicine, Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeles, Born Yesterday, The Rockford Files, From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler and Now You See It, Now You Don’t.

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LACMA also has a few celebrity connections, as well.  There is a statue titled “Michael Jackson and Bubbles”, which was designed by artist Jeff Koons in 1988, on display in the Broad Contemporary Art Museum building.

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I so love that Mr. Koons captured MJ’s ever-present loafer-and-white-sock-combination so perfectly!

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And there is also a Tiffany lamp from Barbra Streisand’s personal collection on display in the Ahmanson Building.

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Also in the Ahmanson Building is an extremely ornate rosewood mirror which boasts an intriguing history.  The massive mirror, which was designed by New York’s Herter Brothers interior design firm in 1873, originally belonged to Milton Slocum Latham, a former U.S. senator and governor of California, and was on display in his 50-room Menlo Park mansion, Thurlow Lodge.  Slocum went bankrupt shortly after construction on his mansion was completed and then passed away in 1882.  His former home was demolished in 1942 and the mirror was subsequently transferred to none other than the prop department of a Hollywood movie studio – although I am unsure of which one – where it remained until 1991, at which time it became the property of LACMA.   So incredibly interesting!  I am going to have to keep my eyes peeled from now on to see if that mirror pops up in any movies that were made between 1942 and 1991!

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For those fellow stalkers who are also interested in seeing works of art as well as filming locations Winking smile, the museum features some amazing pieces, including paintings by both Monet and Picasso.

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There is also a great view of the Hollywood sign which can be seen from the top of the Broad Contemporary Art Museum building.

Big THANK YOU to Dinah, from the Huntington Library, for finding this location for me!  Smile

Until next time, Happy Stalking!  Smile

Stalk It: Los Angeles County Museum of Art, from My So-Called Life and L.A. Story, is located at 5905 Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles.  You can visit the museum’s official website here.  Both My So-Called Life and L.A. Story were filmed in the museum’s Art of the Ancient World section, which can be found on the third floor of the Hammer Building, in the Charles E. and Flora L. Thornton Gallery.   The works of art that appeared in MSCL are spread out among the different galleries located on the third floor of the Hammer Building.

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6 comments

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  1. Ashley says:

    Your recreation of Jordan is now my fave Lindsay photo ever!!!! Had me in stitches, especially picturing GC’s embarrassment over it ;)

    Seeing these caps gave my heart a little squeeze – it really doesn’t feel like long ago I was feeling all the things Angela was. Ah, teen years!

    The way you tracked down all the pieces of artwork is so awesome! Sounds like a lot of fun!

  2. Andrew says:

    I can’t believe you matched that many pieces of art Lindsay! Simply amazing. Great work as always. I know it took a bit to figure it out. Thanks so much for this one! Was the museum docent named George? LOL….

  3. Becky says:

    I’ll have to add this to my list when I come out in April :) So cool!

  4. I love your blog and this piece. The name GC for your guy is so appropriate for my guy. Try the Brentwood Country Mart if you haven’t. I was their one Sat. afternoon and the owner said I just missed Arnold and his
    wife, Apple’s mom, and Ben and Jennifer.

  5. Lavonna says:

    Great post..lots of filming locations!


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