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On Sunday, Many Museums to Celebrate . . . Themselves


May 18 has rolled around and once again it's time to celebrate International Museum Day. Doesn't ring a bell?

Sunday is the 20th annual observance of International Museum Day, which was established by a group called the International Council of Museums. The Washington-based group wanted to bring special attention to museums' role in preserving the world's natural, cultural and artistic heritage.

The day has not been officially celebrated in this country since 1979 when President Jimmy Carter declared May 18 National Museum Day. But that hasn't stopped a number of U.S. museums from offering special programs for the day.

Here's a sampling of programs and other activities this weekend. And remember this is just a sampling--L.A. county and its environs have so many museums of all sorts that you could visit one a day and not be done for a year.

The Bowers Museum of Cultural Art will hold a family festival Sunday from 1:30-4:30 p.m. A benefit to support Kidseum summer camp scholarships, the day will include music, dance, art projects, face and body painting, and storytelling. Families can dance to the rhythms of the reggae band Steel Fusion and listen to Jewish folk songs by Osi Sladek. On the corner of 20th and Main streets in Santa Ana. Call (714) 480-1520 for reservations, tickets $15 per person.

The Craft & Folk Art Museum will offer free admission to the museum Sunday, including its recently opened exhibit, "I Once Was Lost, the Spiritual Found in Folk Art," a display of outsider art from the House of Blues Collection. 5814 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, (213) 937-5544. 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. As part of its exhibit, "Cats! Wild to Mild," the museum presents "Feline Fun Day" Saturday 11:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Kids can create cat toys, cat masks, help color the "If I Was a Cat" mural and take part in a scavenger hunt. There will also be cat adoptions. From 1:45 p.m.-2 p.m., the Exotic Feline Breeding Compound will introduce visitors to a rare fishing cat with webbed paws, usually found only in India and China. Activities and museum admission free. 900 Exposition Blvd. in Exposition Park, Los Angeles, (213) 763-DINO.

The Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens will have its 23th annual one-day-only plant sale Sunday. Thousands of rare and exotic plants will be available at this mother of all plant sales for both amateur gardeners and serious collectors. Garden books will also be on sale. 1151 Oxford Road in San Marino, (818) 405-2100. Admission to Sunday's sale (which includes entrance to the 150-acre gardens and all museum exhibits) is $7.50 for adults, $6 seniors, $4 students and children 12 and over, and free for children under 12. Admission window opens at 9 a.m., and the gates to sale area open at 10 a.m.

The Los Angeles Children's Museum hosts a program Saturday and Sunday at noon and 2 p.m., "Animal Actors of Hollywood." Animal trainers from the Animal Actors of Hollywood agency in Thousand Oaks will present an educational program about animal training, as well as petnutrition and care. Two hairy friends will be on hand: Finster, a capuchin monkey who has appeared in the films "Cutthroat Island" and "Monkey Trouble" and a golden retriever named Comet, of TV's "Full House" and "The Drew Carrey Show." There will also be pets for adoption. Program included with $5 general admission, kids under 2 free. 310 N. Main St., Los Angeles, (213) 687-8800.

The Los Angeles County Museum of Art will present a family tour of the museum Sunday at 2 p.m. titled "Art for Today." Families can see how a scribble of paint, a scrap of metal, an image from television and other materials can be combined to create art. 5905 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, (213) 857-6000. Tour included with museum admission, $6 adults, $4 students 18 and over with ID and seniors, $1 children, children under 5 admitted free.

Museums of the Arroyo. Five museums along the historic Arroyo Seco in Highland Park and Pasadena will offer free admission, tours and special programs from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, and a free shuttle bus between them. Participants include:

* The Gamble House, an architectural landmark built in 1908 and practically unaltered since its construction, is one of the most complete and well-preserved examples of the work of renowned Pasadena architects Charles and Henry Greene of the Arts and Crafts movement. 4 Westmoreland Place, Pasadena, (818) 793-3334

* Heritage Square Museum is actually eight separate buildings that showcase L.A.'s Victorian past. Among the buildings in the park-like setting are the outstanding Queen Anne Eastlake House, the middle-class home of a woodcarver, an octagon house, a church and a train depot. 3800 Homer St., Los Angeles, (818) 449-0193.

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