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Getting to know famous people through their (now historic) houses

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Liberace’s home in Las Vegas includes, of course, a costume room
(Mark Damon / Las Vegas News Bureau)

What makes a house a home is personal. It’s stuff, the flotsam and jetsam of a life well lived, creating a portrait that a stark museum can’t conjure. Each of these five house museums deliver that insight, painting a picture of who lived there in fascinating detail.

Blue House, Frida Kahlo Museum

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A visitor is reflected in a mirror as she takes photos inside the Frida House in Mexico City.
(Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times)

The cornflower abode, in the Coyoacán neighborhood of Mexico City, reveals the artist in startling ways. In the house where she was born, died and (sometimes) lived with her husband, Diego Rivera, you’ll see paintings including the “Cesarean Operation,” clothing attesting to her diminutive frame, and the crutches, corsets and medicines that ruled her life after the horrific bus accident that scarred her at age 18.

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Info: 247 Londres, Colonia del Carmen, Mexico City; bit.ly/kahlobluehousemuseum. Admission about $13.

Abiquiú

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The sitting room at Georgia O’Keeffe’s Abiquiu home and studio,
(Krysta Jabczenski /Georgia O’Keeffe Museum)

The adobe home, 48 miles northwest of Santa Fe, was Georgia O’Keeffe’s working residence from 1945 until 1984; the views from the windows mirror many of her paintings. Small things, such as her collection of cookbooks and hats perched on a dresser, bring O’Keeffe into clear relief.

Info: 21120H U.S. 84, Abiquiú, N.M.; bit.ly/abiquiuhometour. Admission $40, $35 ages 6-18

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Sunnylands

This desert retreat of philanthropist and diplomat Walter Annenberg and his wife Lenore is now a meeting place where world leaders can convene. Take a 90-minute house tour to see a collection of letters from Queen Elizabeth, the twin beds where Ronald and Nancy Reagan laid their heads, and the fireplace that was the backdrop for Frank Sinatra’s wedding to Barbara in 1976.

Info: 37977 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; sunnylands.org. $48

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Photographic memories from the home of Mr. Showmanship, Liberace, in Las Vegas.
(Mark Damon/Las Vegas News Bureau)

Liberace Museum Collection
Only in Vegas would Liberace’s glittering costumes find a home in Michael Jackson’s old digs. Take a tour to see the King of Bling’s hall of mirrors, countless crystal chandeliers, gold pianos and Rolls-Royces studded with rhinestones.

Info: 5115 Dean Martin Drive, Las Vegas; bit.ly/liberacemuseumcollection.
$129.95 for curator-led house tour, $24.95 for garage only

Will Rogers Ranch

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Will Rogers house in Pacific Palisades. It is now a state historic park.
(California State Parks)

Known for his low-key musings, Will Rogers was an American folk hero, media pundit, writer, actor, cowboy and entertainer. His fireside wisdom can be channeled at his ranch, now a state historic park, with a polo field, stables, hiking paths and rustic lodge. Check out the life-size statue of Rogers on a horse.

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Info: 1501 Will Rogers State Park Road, Pacific Palisades; willrogersranchfoundation.org. Free to tour; $12 to park.


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