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Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County
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Los Angeles County Main Page

Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County

All photographs taken by Kenneth A. Larson. All rights reserved. © 2004 - 2017.

The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County opened on November 6, 1913 as the Museum of History, Science, and Art. The Art Department moved out in 1963 (now known as LACMA). It has grown through several name changes, beginning with The Museum of History, Science, and Art. The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County is one of the largest museums of its type in the United States, and is one of the largest natural and cultural museums in the Western United States. Only the Smithsonian Institution and American Museum of Natural History in New York are larger. The collection numbers over 30 million pieces, many unfortunately are not on display due to lack of space.

Artifacts cover over 4.5 billion years of the Earth's history. The Natural History Museum Family consists of three museums: the Natural History Museum in Exposition Park, the George C. Page Museum of La Brea Discoveries (La Brea Tar Pits) in Hancock Park, and the William S. Hart Museum in Newhall.

Exhibits include Los Angeles History, Dinosaurs, Mammals, Gems and Minerals, Birds, hands-on Discovery Center for children, an Insect Zoo, Nature Lab and Outdoor Nature Gardens, Butterfly/Spider Pavilion, traveling exhibits, and more.

What is now Exposition Park (link) was originally know as Agricultural Park, a seedy part of town, from 1872 until 1910. In 1909, William Miller Bowen began efforts to persuade the State, County, and City to develop the park as a cultural center. To improve the image of this park, three buildings were built around a large rose garden. To the west was the new County run Museum of History, Science, and Art, to the south was the State run building that became the Museum of Science and Industry and now California Science Center, and the State run Armory on the east. The City would maintain the grounds. The original 1913 structure was designed by architects Frank Hudson and William A.D. Munsell. It was a blend of Spanish Renaissance, Romanesque, and Beaux-Arts. In the center of the Rotunda is Julia Bracken Wendt's sculpture, "Three Muses". Four local organizations donated materials to fill the galleries and as the collections grew, the building was enlarged several times. In 1913, the museum was given the exclusive rights to remove the prehistoric remains from the tar pits at Rancho La Brea. Many Mammal skeletons occupied the Science wing until 1976, when some moved to the new sister institution, the George C. Page Museum of La Brea Discoveries.

About 2005, as the centennial approached, the museum began a program of updating the building and many of the exhibits. On Sunday, July 11, 2010, opening ceremony for the new Age of Mammals exhibit and restored Rotunda. A year later, the Dinosaur Galleries opened with 20 complete dinosaurs and ancient sea creatures, and in June 2013, the Nature Lab, Nature Garden, and Becoming LA exhibit opened.

The Age of Mammals exhibit is in the north wing of the original 1913 Museum of History, Science, and Art. The main floor has many large mammal skeletons and the second floor has many smaller exhbits. Exhibits in the first floor galley include: What is a Mammal?; Adapting to Grasslands; Challenges for Mammals; Early Humans; The Future of Mammals; and Evolutionary Explosion. The second floor gallery includes a Paleoparadoxiid skeleton, feeding, identifying gender, locomotion, behavior, Older is Deeper, and a time line. The Time Line includes 40 million years ago, 15 million, 10 million, and 27,000 (La Brea). Hanging from the ceiling are skeletons of various marine mammals with wire mesh filling in where the skin would be.

The Rotunda has been restored and has several "What on Earth?" kiosks each presenting a question about an object on one side and the answer on the back, such as "Who laid this egg?" Answer, a platypus, a mammal. Another holds a contraption made of a fan and syrup pitchers that I thought came from the contemporary art museum, but it's really, ... never mind, visit the museum yourself. Through the glass doors it is possible to see the restored south wing where a year from now a new dinosaur exhibit will open and the west wing where in two years, the "Under the Sun" exhibit will open detailing life in California. A new Rotunda Store occupies the southeast corner of the Rotunda.

This is one of the few natural history museums in the U.S. with a diorama staff which is a great asset.

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Address and Phone Number:
Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County
900 Exposition Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90007
Phone: (213) 763-DINO

Museum Hours:
Open 9:30 am - 5 pm every day of the year, with four exceptions, closed on:
New Year's Day (January 1)
Independence Day (July 4)
Thanksgiving Day (fourth Thursday of November)
Christmas Day (December 25)

The Natural History Museum offers many classes, programs, special events, and field trips. One such field trip was of the San Andreas Fault.

The new Dinosaur Hall is now open.
The original entrance to the Museum faces the Rose Garden.
The ornate Rotunda is in the center of the original structure built in 1913.
The original entrance to the Museum as seen from the Rose Garden.
East Wing
East, original, entrance from Rose Garden. Photo date: 12-2-90.
East Wing
East, original, entrance from Rose Garden. Photo date: 11-13-03.
Original Entrance
Original entrance. Photo date: 8-7-94.

Original Entrance
Original entrance. Photo date: 9-4-94.

Space Shuttle Endeavour on it's way to the neighboring California Science Center as it flies over the Natural history Museum.

East facade of original builidng. Photo ate: 12-5-04.

Original entrance. Photo ate: 12-5-04.

Wing meets rotunda.

Detail of east facade.

East facade in the rain.

Northwest corner of origianl rotunda. Photo ate: 2-6-05.

Looking east from original entrance. Photo ate: 12-5-04.

East facade. Photo ate: 12-5-04.

Southeast corner of original rotunda. Photo ate: 12-5-04.

Rotunda as seen from the California Science Center.
The 1913 Rotunda as seen from the Science Center.

The original front facade and entrance from 1913 getting ready for the 2013 rededication.
The restored eagle at the east facade in 2010.

The restored East facade.

East side, south wing of original building. 9-4-94.

West side, north wing of origianl buildng. Photo date: 9-4-94.
Northwest corner of original building. Photo date: 3-20-04.
Northwest corner of the original rotunda built in 1913.
North Entrance
North entrance. Photo date: 12-2-90.
Dueling Dinosaurs
Dueling Dinosaurs. Photo date: 7-5-98.

Dueling Dinosaurs and forecourt in rain. Photo date: 12-5-04.

Dueling Dinosaurs. Photo Date: 1-25-05.

Dueling Dinosaurs.

Looking north from north entrance, toward Dueling Dinosaurs. Photo Date: 12-5-04.

Looking north across the fountain.
Two more views across the fountain toward Dueling Dinosaurs
Dueling Dinosaurs during museum remodeling in 2010.

Dueling Dinosaurs in their new home at the northwest corner of the site.

The facade above the North Entrance.

Looking east along the northeast facade.

North facade. Photo Date: 1-25-05.

North facade. Photo Date: 1-25-05.
North addition and kapoc tree. Photo date: 12-2-90.

Kapoc tree. Photo date: 7-8-90.

Kapoc tree. Photo date: 12-5-04.

Kapoc trees.

Kapoc tree at north side. Photo ate: 2-6-05.

Kapoc tree in full bloom.
Kapoc tree in full bloom near the north entrance.
Kapoc tree in full bloom near the north entrance.
Bat house in the "North Campus" area. Bats are beneficial to the environment eating tons of insets each year.

South Facade
South Facade, Photo date: 9-4-94.
South Facade
South entrance, Photo date: 10-27-90.

South entrance, built in the 1930s. Photo ate: 12-5-04.

South facade with entrance at center.
Sculpture Sculpture
Traveling sculpture exhibit. . Photo date: 9-7-03.

Gluck Trucks, donated by the Gluck Foundation. Earth Mobile, Sea Mobiule, Sky Mobile. Used in LAUSD. Photo Date: 1-25-05.

New Museum Store, part of the 2010 remodel.

Pavilion of Wings, Butterfly Exhibit

Pavilion of Wings
Pavilion of Wings, butterfly exhibit. Photo date: 6-30-01.
Pavilion of Wings
Pavilion of Wings, butterfly exhibit. Photo date: 6-30-01.
Pavilion of Wings - The Butterfly Pavilion. Open summer.



Black and yellow butterflies and orange flowers.

Bright orange butterflies.

Monarch caterpillar

Monarch chryalis

Swallowtail caterpillars

Western Tiger Swallowtail

Gray Cracker

Buckeye butterfly

Spider Pavilion

After butterfly season, the pavilion houses large spiders in honor of Halloween in October.
Large, but harmless, orb spiders make large webs in the Spider Pavilion.




Spiders return for 2012.

Nephila clavipes

Green Lynx

Argiope argentata

Argiope argentata

Nephila clavipes


Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County has one of the best collections and displays of rocks and minerals in the country.

Ship model.

Model of Los Angeles, it was current when built in the 1930s, now it is a time capsule.

California Missions.
California History Hall.

Dueling Dinosaurs. Photo Date: 1-25-05.
Foyer. Note that the Stegosaurus and Allosaurus dinosaur skeletons that had for so long occupied the center of the foyer had been moved to the Dinosaur Hall and this space was left open for a few years. Photo date: 9-4-94.
Dueling Dinosaurs
Foyer. Note that the Dueling Dinosaurs skeletons have been installed. Photo date: 8-2-98.

Ceiling of the Foyer. Photo Date: 1-25-05.

Ceiling of the Foyer.

Ceiling of the Foyer.

Photo date: 12-5-04.

Photo date: 10-22-05.
Statue at center of original rotunda.

Ceiling of rotunda. Photo date: 12-5-04.

Ceiling of rotunda. Photo date: 12-5-04.
Rotunda. Photo date: 12-5-04.
Photo date: 9-4-94.
Rotunda, interior.

Rotunda, interior in July 2010 after three-year restoration.
Rotunda, interior.

Insect Zoo in its new location, July 2010.

The Discovery Center has moved several times. As of early 2011, the Discovery Center can be found on the second floor.

Native American Hall. Photo date: 12-5-04. Now closed.

Pre-Columbian Hall. Photo date: 12-5-04. Now closed.

American Bison. Photo date: 12-5-04.

Bear. Photo Date: 1-25-05.
American Bison diorama. Photo date: 11-22-83.
Africa Veldt diorama. Photo date: 11-22-83.

Ice age fossils. Photo date: 12-5-04.
Prehistoric Mammals
Prehistoric mammals. Photo date: 7-26-79.
The above two photos are of a gallery that has closed to be replaced by "Age of Mammals" in 2010.

Fin Whale in the north wing of the original building in 2006 and 2005 in what was then the Discovery Center.

The Fin Whale (shown here in 2010) has now been removed from the Connecting Gallery in preparation for the new Los Angeles exhibit.

Expect to see the Fin Whale back in 2013 in the new Otis Booth Pavilion, a glassed in new North Entry.

The new Dinosaur Hall is now open (opened July 2011).

Age of Mammals

Opened July 2010 on the Ground Floor of the North Wing of the original 1913 building. Mammals evolved about 200 million years ago but it wasn't until the extinction of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago that mammals were about to diversify and flourish. This gallery covers the development of mammals from their first emergence to the present day and humans.

Nature Garden

Opened June 8 and 9, 2013. Three and one half acres of educational gardens, both native California and other drought tolerant plants plus animals.

Edible Garden with fruits, vegetables, a herbs that will grow in your own Los Angeles garden.

Hummingbird feeders.

Malaise Trap, to capture insects for study.

The Museum hadn't intended for this hive of European Honey Bees.

Temporary Exhibits

Traveling exhibit on Dinosaurs. This display predicts that had Dinosaurs not become extinct, they might have eventually evolved into intelligent people like us. Photo date: 7-27-86.
Inca Dance
Inca Dance, a one-day program. Photo date: 9-7-03.
Sonic Museum was a special exhibit in the Spring of 2006. Music was composed to accent select exhibits.

Behind the Scenes

A Cenntenial Open House for Members in February 2013 allowed glimpses of the labs and storerooms.

Vertibrate Palio Lab on the third floor.

Natural History Museum and the Rose Parade

The Museum is excited about its first Rose Parade float, January 2, 2012.

NHM's first Rose Parade float for 2012. Float decorating at Phoenix Decorating.

The T-Rex from Dinosaur Encounters inspects the Rose Parade float. 12-29-11
The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County was featured on the City of Los Angeles Rose Parade float in 2012.

The Museum is Remodeled

In 2007, a long overdue major restoration began of the original 1913 part of the builidng. For some time, the east side of the museum was closed for renovation. Click here for more...

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This page last updated: Sunday, 22-Nov-2015 21:20:18 EST

Note:This is not the official site for any of the places shown in Places Earth. Places Earth is not responsible for accuracy of the information. Hours of operations, prices, exhibits, and sometimes locations are subject to change without notice.

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