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Camera Obscura, Santa Monica

#6 of 7 in Museums in Santa Monica
Observatory · Hidden Gem · Science Museum
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Move, Groove and Get Crafty at the Camera Obscura Art Lab!

Visit us at or 1450 Ocean Ave at Broadway

Contact or 310-458-2239

Join our email list at

View a list of classes & register at

Improve us at

Take the Train: Metro terminus at 4th St/Colorado, 4 blocks away. Upon exiting the station go west on Colorado to Ocean Ave, cross the street to the Pier and turn right. We're in the park just past Broadway.

Parking is under $2 for the first 2.5 hours in Parking Structure 6 (1431 2nd Street between Broadway and Santa Monica). On weekends at the Civic Auditorium lot at 1855 Main St it's $5 all day except during special events. Pier Deck: $10-15/day; Beach Lot 1N just north of the Pier $6-12/day. Meters on Ocean Avenue; $2/hr maximum 3 hours. More info:

Buses: &

Biking to class is always encouraged (bring a lock); the Breeze Bike Share corral is just south of us in the park!

Registration (bring cash to cover material fees) In Person: Advance registration accepted at the Camera Obscura between 9am-5pm M-F & 11am-4pm Sat. Dropping in? Call 310-458-2239 to confirm availability, preferably by the Tuesday before class starts; plan to arrive at least 15 minutes before the start of class; many classes do not allow drop ins.

Refunds/Transfers: Full refunds given if class is cancelled before taking place. For any other reason, $15 processing fee for each multisession activity refunded; one-time classes & expended material fees are nonrefundable. Requests must be made in person, by mail, fax (310-899-0840), or email to within 24 hours of first class meeting. All class dates, times, locations, and instructors are subject to change.

The Camera Obscura Art Lab is a place to learn salsa moves, enhance your blogging skills, design a font, mix a perfume, fuse glass, solder a circuitboard or tile a mosaic table, among many other possibilities! It all happens at 1450 Ocean Avenue in Palisades Park, steps from the entrance to the Santa Monica Pier. This midcentury building houses the iconic Camera Obscura mechanism and offers lovely views of the ocean as well as a multitude of activities, as well as access to great restaurants and easy parking around the corner in the public structures. You might even take a turn on the ferris wheel down on the boardwalk after a class! All arts, crafts and movement classes are for adults, at prices from free to three figures and ranging from two hour events to multiweek workshops.

1450 Ocean Ave sits on the former site of the North Beach Station of the Pacific Electric railway, now Palisades Park, between Broadway and Santa Monica Blvd. Philanthropist Marcellus L. Joslyn gifted the building in 1955 to the city of Santa Monica in memory of his wife. Designed by architect Weldon J. Fulton, it sports exterior walls clad in chunky Palos Verdes stone, glass walls, sloping roofs, and projecting canopies and rafter beams, to create a distinctively midcentury appearance. Fulton also created the swooping font spelling out “Camera Obscura” and camera on tripod logo on the front. Similar features are found at the Montana and Fairview branch libraries and at the Zucky’s building on Wilshire Blvd., also designed by Fulton. The Camera Obscura itself is quite a bit older – it was built by Robert F. Jones, nephew of Santa Monica city founder Senator John P. Jones, in 1898 and was moved up from the Beach.
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Camera Obscura reviews

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TripAdvisor traveler rating 3.5
11 reviews
  • First of all, it's free, so there's no reason not to check it out. But it's also really cool and you can turn the viewfinder and the table to get different views and play with the focus.
  • It's a really cool place that gives you the idea of how a camera lense works. You need to close the door, steer the wheel and adjust the table top and it's so cool I actually thought It was some sort of magic trick but it reflects what happens on the outside, people and moving car or moving palms included. Free and a cool one to do

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