Natural History Museum
of Los Angeles County
900 Exposition Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90007
Hours: 9:30am - 5:00pm daily
How do you know if a city's made it?
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).
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.
To inspire wonder, discovery, & responsibility for our natural & cultural worlds.
Gems on gems on gems.
One of the best, musty-ist, and wonderfully-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.
- Bring a sweater, and cash for parking (just in case).
- Look for the Megamouth display, by far the best/worst thing in the museum (in my opinion).
- Make sure there are no football games the day you're planning on visiting!
- NHM offers lots of discounts on admission, so bring your college ID cards.