What you want to see at the Norton Simon Museum

2 minutes read

The most exquisite private collection in Pasadena encompasses European, South and Southeast Asian art through 12,000 unique pieces.  Here are some art pieces from the collection to appreciate.

A pinch of history

  • Businessperson, industrialist, and collector of Art, Norton Simon purchased more than 8,000 works of art in 30 years.
  • In October 1975, he assembled his collection by renovating, and re-opening the previous Pasadena Art Institute two-story museum.
  • The Pasadena Art Institute opened in 1922, and was originally Carr’s family home in 1877.
  • Norton Simon began to collect Indian Art after his honeymoon to India.
  • His multinational corporation, the Norton Simon Inc., included multi-industry companies alike Canada Dry Corporation and Avis Car rental.

Highlights of the Permanent collection

The paintings, and sculptures from the permanent collection are divided into regions: American, European, South, and Southeast Asia.

I particularly appreciated the European Art as you can set your eyes on some French, Italian, Dutch, Flemish, and Spanish painters masters including Picasso, Matisse, Raphael, Degas, Rembrandt, Kandinsky, Goya, and Renoir.

Below are some of my favorite:

Little Dancer – Edgar Degas (French, 1834-1917)

Portrait of a Peasant, August 1888

Vincent Van Gogh

(Dutch, 1853-1890)

The Mulberry Tree, October 1889

Vincent Van Gogh

(Dutch, 1853-1890)

Portrait of the Artist’s Mother, October 1888

Vincent Van Gogh

(Dutch, 1853-1890)

Tahitian Woman and Boy, 1899

Paul Gauguin

(French, 1848-1903)

Red-Headed woman in the garden of M. Foret, Summer 1887

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec

(French, 1864-1901)

Landscape with flock of sheep, 1889 and 1902

Camille Pissarro

(French, 1830-1903)

Uncle Dominique, 1866

Paul Cezanne

(French, 1839-1906)

Self-Portrait, 1792

Marie-Geneviève Bouliar

(French, 1763-1825)

Temporary exhibitions  

The museum host between three to five temporary exhibitions per year. Last year, I discovered Air, Land, Sea – A lithography suite by William Crutchfield (1932-2015). This American artist focused on the mechanics of transportation with the impact of innovation, modernity and progress.

Garden and outdoor sculptures

The garden was originally landscaped by the Carrs family (Dr. Ezra S.Carr and his wife Jeanne) in the late 1900s. Mrs. Carr planted several varieties of citrus, flowers, and trees. “Carmelita” was the most luxuriant garden in Pasadena. Jonh Muir himself planted some species (he was Mr. Carr’s student)!

Did you know?

Jeanne Carr established a horticulture school for women onsite.

The current garden is resembling Monet’s home garden in Giverny (France) while preserving some trees from the original Carmelita Garden. Numerous sculptures are hidden gems in this luxuriant vegetation.

Mountain, 1937 – Aristide Maillol (French, 1861-1944)

Ready to explore Art?

*COVD-19 update as of June 2021*

  1. The Norton Simon Museum, store, and the Garden Cafe is now open to the public with some galleries and amenities still temporarily closed.
  2. The Norton Simon Museum is also available online. Discover the current exhibitions, collections, and special installations.
  3. Please respect health and safety protocols.


  • Location: 211 West Colorado Boulevard, Pasadena, California, 91105
  • Hours: 12 pm – 5 pm Thursday-Monday, closed on Tuesday and Wednesday.
  • Admission: $15 for adults. Free first Friday of the month.
  • Duration: 2 hours
  • Parking: Free on-site lot
  • More information available at https://www.nortonsimon.org/

Article based on my visits in 2019

If you enjoyed this post, please leave a comment and share it with a traveler visiting Los Angeles.

2 thoughts on “What you want to see at the Norton Simon Museum

  1. Super ! impressionnant le nombre d’oeuvres, de grande valeur, possédées par ce Monsieur Norton, bravo à Madame Carr pour la création de son école d’horticulture, belle initiative et à vous Marie, pour nous faire découvrir toujours plus de sujets culturels. ça fait beaucoup de bien au cerveau.
    A très bientôt.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Merci beaucoup pour votre message!

      J’ai également était surprise et ravie par la richesse des collections et des oeuvres d’art exposées. Ce musée est une pépite à découvrir lors de votre passage à Pasadena.

      A très bientôt



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