The Bergamot Station in Santa Monica is the largest art gallery and cultural complex in Southern California. The former rail depot hosts about 30 galleries, a cafè, some shops and the Santa Monica Museum of Art.
About the history of the Bergamot Station:
“Bergamot Station is the historical name for the site on which the gallery complex is located, dating back to 1875 when it was a stop for the Red Line trolley running from Los Angeles to the Santa Monica Pier. Bergamot is a flower of the mint family that once flourished in the area.
When the trolley cars stopped running in 1953, the site’s warehouse buildings housed a celery packing operation, then an ice-making plant, and finally a factory for the manufacture of water heaters. Thereafter, the City of Santa Monica purchased the property which then sat abandoned, with plans for it to once again serve as an eventual transit stop, this time for a proposed light rail line running from Los Angeles to Santa Monica.
Plans for the light rail were eventually shelved and the City, seeking an interesting use for the site, approached Wayne Blank, developer and co-owner of the Shoshana Wayne Gallery. Blank’s development expertise has already been tapped by the City of Santa Monica for an earlier project: the conversion of a vacant city-owned airport hangar into artists’ studios. The City, pleased with the project’s outcome, asked Blank to conceive of an artistic use for the Bergamot Station site. Bergamot Station, a campus-like complex that has retained its industrial and rustic look, held its official opening on September 17, 1994.
Since its launch, Bergamot Station has become a popular destination for visitors from around the country and the world. Bergamot Station provides a central location which allows visitors to park in one place and spend the day seeing art, rather than spending time driving from one gallery to the next. It now appears in every guide to Los Angeles as a primary cultural destination, with well over 600,000 visitors each year.” source
The Santa Monica Museum of Art (SMMoA) is an important part of the Arts Center. The small museum moved to the Bergamot Station in 1998 and features local, national and international artists and exhibitions. The SMMoA is the only kunsthalle, a non-collecting museum, in Southern California and admission is a suggested donation of $5.
Furthermore the Bergamot Cafe serves delicious salads, sandwiches and breakfast on their huge terrace in the middle of the Arts Center.
The Bergamot Station is located at 2525 Michigan Avenue in Santa Monica. As soon as the extension of the Expo Line from Downtown LA to Downtown Santa Monica will be finished, the Bergamot Station will have a light rail stop nearby: 26th Street/Bergamot.