Anyone who thinks that all museums are stuffy and boring has never been to the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles. One of the most stunning museums in the world, it is the largest facility of its kind in the western United States and houses over 35 million historical pieces and specimens. Many of its most prized exhibits feature rare artifacts unique to the fields of archaeology, history, entomology, and mineralogy, among dozens of other disciplines and specialties. To be sure, there are certain exhibits that must be viewed when visiting the museum, among them the following:
Who doesn’t love dinosaurs? This is the grand beast of all the exhibits in the museum, newly renovated to twice its original size and featuring more dinosaur fossils than the eye can possibly take in in a single visit. Seriously, go ahead and try. We dare you.
One of the most riveting additions to the Dinosaur Hall is the spectacular Tyrannosaurus Rex Growth Series exhibit, a one-of-a-kind display that shows visitors the exact size of the ancient creature as it moved from birth to adulthood. The exhibit shows the T-Rex at ages 2, 13, and a full grown 17. The adult T-Rex fossil is nearly 70 percent complete, making it one of the world’s most complete specimens to be housed inside a museum. Other massive fossils on display include those of the Stegosaurus and Triceratops. Needless to say, this is the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles’s most popular attraction, especially with children, who are constantly saying “ooh” and “aah” at every turn. We encourage you to join them in their declarations of wonder.
Those who wish for a more contemporary lesson in natural history will want to spend time in the California History exhibit, a unique collection of artifacts and specimens from the state’s history that traces its way from before it was settled by Americans from out East to the modern era, detailing everything from Disneyland and Hollywood to the founding of Silicon Valley. Many of the most popular selections in this exhibit include the diorama that depicts the founding families of the city of Los Angeles, eleven clans from Mexico who were the first to settle in the city proper in 1781. Also on display are the original models of downtown Los Angeles from 1940 and even an animation stand fashioned by the pioneer Walt Disney himself. It all started somewhere, after all, and lucky for visitors the origins of the land and its pioneers are there to be seen.
Ancient Latin American Art
Color, design, and sheer historic ingenuity converge in the museum’s Ancient Latin American Art exhibit, a collection of works that are as staggering in detail as they are in design. The exhibit showcases thousands of pieces of ancient art from the Americas that flourished in cultures prior to the invasion of Spain. Many of the pieces on display are sacred and ceremonial in nature and are accordingly dimly lit to keep in accordance with the way they would have been displayed by their original makers in their indigenous cultures.
Visitor favorites typically include the ceramic incense burner, a Moche-style stirrup-spout vessel, and a coyote effigy said to be a depiction of an ancient Mexican goddess. Most of these pieces are housed in what is known as the Visible Vault, which can be accessed by visitors that wish to see the most artistic and enduring history of the Inca, Maya, Aztec, and other ancient civilizations in the Western Hemisphere. The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles is a feast for both the mind and the imagination and will leave you wondering how all of it was first created and then preserved. Come, and be amazed.