Exposition Blvd.

Exposition Blvd.


Natural History Museum
of Los Angeles County

900 Exposition Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90007
Hours: 9:30am - 5:00pm daily
nhm.org


How do you know if a city's made it?

"Laying of cornerstone for the Los Angeles County Museum of History, Science and Art in Exposition Park. (It later became the L.A. County Museum of Natural History)" ● 1910, LAPL Digital Library.

"Laying of cornerstone for the Los Angeles County Museum of History, Science and Art in Exposition Park. (It later became the L.A. County Museum of Natural History)" ● 1910, LAPL Digital Library.

A city hall, a football team— and a museum of natural history. While Los Angeles has lacked that second criteria for a few decades, our Natural History Museum has long stood as a cultural institution full of wonder, disgust, and sometimes boredom (depending on how you ended up in its great halls). 

"Three Chinese American girls in front of the L.A. County Museum of Natural History. Group includes Marie Shue and Lilly (Mu) Lee." ● 1940, LAPL Digital Library.

"Three Chinese American girls in front of the L.A. County Museum of Natural History. Group includes Marie Shue and Lilly (Mu) Lee." ● 1940, LAPL Digital Library.

Celebrating more than 100 years, NHM has grown from some pretty paltry looking display rooms to a gold-standard elementary school field trip destination. Sitting proudly in Exposition Park, the museum feels grand from the outside in. Rose gardens, outdoor spaces, the Coliseum, the California Science Center— you could spend your whole day in this park. And if you wanted to, you could take public transportation right to the entrance and not have to pay for parking (definite win!).

 

The place has a kind of grandeur. 

Marble columns, marble floors, marble walls. Magnificent chandeliers, beautiful natural light. It brings back a feeling of respect for these temples to science and education—before all one has to do to learn about a certain bird is look it up online. Older rooms feel musty but loved. Newer exhibits replace those from our childhood, but some still endure; just go upstairs to experience showrooms of dinosaurs and taxidermied birds that have probably been in rotation for one hundred years.

Nothing blows kids' minds quite like the T-rex vs. Triceratops battle in the main hall—don't worry, you can't miss it.

The Three Heroic Figures: History, Science, and Art. Together, they hold up the world.

 

MISSION STATEMENT:

To inspire wonder, discovery, & responsibility for our natural & cultural worlds.

 
"Ornithology collection: top: Walking Stick (New Guinea); middle: Boxing beetle (Central America), Giant Grasshopper (Central Amer), California scorpion; bottom: Long-Horned beetle (New Guinea), Rhinoceros beetle (Panama); Mexican tarantula." ● 1957, USC Digital Library.

"Ornithology collection: top: Walking Stick (New Guinea); middle: Boxing beetle (Central America), Giant Grasshopper (Central Amer), California scorpion; bottom: Long-Horned beetle (New Guinea), Rhinoceros beetle (Panama); Mexican tarantula."  1957, USC Digital Library.

"Scene of animals native to Africa in the Natural History Museum" ● Date unknown, USC Digital Library.

"Scene of animals native to Africa in the Natural History Museum" ● Date unknown, USC Digital Library.

"Dr. John A. Comstock, associate director of the Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History, sits at the edge of the sidewalk and holds a stuffed penguin." ● 1920, LAPL Digital Library.

"Museum workers with stuffed Kodiak bear from Alaska, circa 1955. L to R Jimmy Allen, Robert Fisher, Willie Knox, Walter Wilson." ● 1955, LAPL Digital Library.

"Museum workers with stuffed Kodiak bear from Alaska, circa 1955. L to R Jimmy Allen, Robert Fisher, Willie Knox, Walter Wilson." ● 1955, LAPL Digital Library.

"Museum docent touring a school class in the North American Mammal Hall." Date unknown, nhm.org Museum Archives.

"Museum docent touring a school class in the North American Mammal Hall." Date unknown, nhm.org Museum Archives.

"Dr. John A. Comstock, associate director of the L.A. County Museum of Natural History, examines giant moth specimens while seated at a desk at the museum. The moth at the lower left is the "Attacus Atlas" of India, known as the Cobra Head moth because of the likeness to a cobra head on the tip of each wing. The moth at the upper right is the "Erebus Strix" of the Amazon basin of Brazil. This species of moth has a wingspread of almost 12 inches." ● 1930, LAPL Digital Library.

"Dr. John A. Comstock, associate director of the L.A. County Museum of Natural History, examines giant moth specimens while seated at a desk at the museum. The moth at the lower left is the "Attacus Atlas" of India, known as the Cobra Head moth because of the likeness to a cobra head on the tip of each wing. The moth at the upper right is the "Erebus Strix" of the Amazon basin of Brazil. This species of moth has a wingspread of almost 12 inches." ● 1930, LAPL Digital Library.

 

💎

Gems on gems on gems.

One of the best, musty-ist, and dated exhibits at NHM is the Gem & Mineral room. It's amazing. Minerals are truly magical. If you're a little skeptical about science and the rooms of expertly taxidermied baby coyotes don't convince you, this room  will seal the deal. Even salt crystals will seem like cosmic magic, straight out of Doctor Strange.

 

And finally, bones.

Some many bones. Most of the bones are millions of years old, but somehow seeing old photos of old bones puts the idea that these animals have been around forever into your reality. Take a look at the Bone Room photo; where is that? How can we see that room? Perhaps the Natural History Museum has a "behind the scenes" tour. Sign me up.

"A group of British journalists inspect a Mastodon skeleton at the L.A. County Museum of Natural History." ● ~1920, LAPL Digital Library.

"A group of British journalists inspect a Mastodon skeleton at the L.A. County Museum of Natural History." ● ~1920, LAPL Digital Library.

"Dr. Hildegard Howard, science curator with Imperial Elephant."  ● 1957, USC Digital Library.

"Dr. Hildegard Howard, science curator with Imperial Elephant."  ● 1957, USC Digital Library.

"Room where the bones from the La Brea Tar Pits are assembled for exhibition in the L.A. County Museum of Natural History." ● 1937, LAPL Digital Library.

"Room where the bones from the La Brea Tar Pits are assembled for exhibition in the L.A. County Museum of Natural History." ● 1937, LAPL Digital Library.


Checklist:

  • Bring a sweater, and cash for parking (just in case).
  • Look for the Megamouth display, by far the best/worst thing in the museum.
  • Make sure there are no football games the day you're planning on visiting!
  • NHM offers lots of discounts on admission, so bring those old college ID cards.
 
Sunset Blvd, Echo Park.

Sunset Blvd, Echo Park.