Event - First Fridays 2023 - May

Friday, May 5, 2023 at 5pm
Add to calendar 2023-05-05 17:00:00 2023-05-05 22:00:00 Event - First Fridays 2023 - May Natural History Museum nhmla webmaster@nhm.org America/Los_Angeles public
FF2023 May


Friday, May 5, 2023 at 5pm

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Natural History Museum
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$20 Non-members
Free for Members

First Fridays 2023 season is here!

Explore the Museum after hours with live music, DJs, topical discussions, signature cocktails, pop-up experiences, special NHM collections displays, and more. 

2023 Theme: Fandoms & Fantasy

The Natural World vs. Fantasy Worlds: This season we focus on how nature and science influence the creation of our favorite imagined worlds. From dragons and witchcraft to superheroes and giant monsters, First Fridays 2023 is where the fans come out to celebrate the intersection of pop-culture fandom and the work and collections of NHM. 

May 5: Giant Monsters/Giant Robot

Live Music by:

  • Arushi jain



  • ET IV

Discussion and Screening:

  • Moderated by filmmaker Renee Tajima-Peña and featuring founders of Giant Robot Magazine Eric Nakamura and Martin Wong, artist James Jean, and director Dylan Robertson.

  • Join us immediately following the Discussion with a special screening of KCET’s Emmy® award-winning arts and culture series ARTBOUND featuring the episode Giant Robot: Asian Pop Culture and Beyond.

  • JUST ADDED: Giant Robot Store Pop-Up in L1 Foyer

kaiju walkabout :

  • Featuring artist and Godzilla cosplayer Krystopher Baioa 


Cosplay as your favorite fantasy and fandom character and get a chance to win a prize for favorite costume! Extra points for representing this month's theme.  Enter the Cosplay Contest at Nature Gardens Main Stage at 7:45 pm!

*Rules and info below

DISCUSSION: Giant Monsters/Giant Robot: The Rise of Asian Pop-Culture and the Legacy of Giant Robot Magazine

Level 2, north American Mammal Hall  |  6:30 pm–7:30 pm

This month explores the rise of Asian pop culture and the legacy and work of Giant Robot Magazine. Featuring a panel that includes founders of Giant Robot Magazine, Eric Nakamura and Martin Wong, artist James Jean, filmmaker Dylan Robertson, and acclaimed filmmaker Renee Tajima-Peña, who will also moderate the discussion.   We'll be discussing how Asian pop culture has influenced and propelled popular culture throughout the years from Godzilla and anime to Hello Kitty and K-pop.  How did the groundbreaking work of Giant Robot Magazine help shape the appetite for global fandom staples such as kaiju, mecha, anime, manga, and more? We'll also look at the enduring popularity of the Godzilla universe!

  • SEATING IS LIMITED FOR THE DISCUSSION, available on a first-come, first-served basis. 

Eric Nakamura and Martin Wong
Founded in 1994, Giant Robot was a bimonthly magazine driven by Eric Nakamura and Martin Wong (L to R) covering Asian popular culture and featuring Asian American artists. Photo credit: David Haskell.

Eric Nakamura owns and operates Giant Robot stores, and GR2 Gallery. 

After graduating from UCLA and contributing to punk zines like Fear of Grownups and Flipside, Martin Wong co-founded Giant Robot in 1994 and edited all 68 issues. In 2018, Martin and his wife Wendy Lau started the Save Music in Chinatown series of DIY punk shows, where their daughter would eventually play with The Linda Lindas. Martin still contributes to zines to this day.

Renee Tajima-Pena

Renee Tajima-Peña is an Oscar-nominated filmmaker whose films about Asian America include the Asian Americans (PBS), Who Killed Vincent Chin?, My America...or Honk if You Love Buddha, Skate Manzanar and May 19 Project. Her films screen at festivals such as Cannes, New York and Sundance. She is a professor of Asian American Studies at UCLA.


James Jean

James Jean (b. 1979, Taipei) is a multidisciplinary visual artist whose works explore imagination and reality through narrative-driven, layered compositions. Fusing aspects of history, tradition, literature, nature, and personal experience, Jean’s dream-like and at times disorienting visual vocabulary draws upon art historical antecedents ranging from Baroque painting to Japanese woodblock prints and Chinese silk scroll paintings

Dylan Robertson (not pictured) is a television producer and director. For the last 10 years, he has been a principal at Radiant Features, where he created a number of TV documentaries and specials, including Project Impossible and Panama Canal Supersized.  Before starting his own company, he worked with the Academy Award winning director, Morgan Neville, producing documentary specials about music and culture. 

FILM SCREENING: Artbound / Giant Robot: Asian Pop Culture and Beyond / Co-Presented by KCET

Level 2, north American Mammal Hall  |  7:50 pm–8:50 pm

Artbound / Giant Robot poster

The documentary focuses on the influence of the Asian American pop culture magazine Giant Robot which created an appetite for Asian and Asian American pop culture, exploring L.A.’s Sawtelle Boulevard as a Japanese American enclave, and ultimately resulted in a lasting legacy of Asian American artists that achieved worldwide recognition. Founded in 1994, Giant Robot was a bimonthly magazine driven by Eric Nakamura and Martin Wong covering Asian popular culture and soon featured Asian American artists. The film features interviews with James Jean, Margaret Cho, Takashi Murakami and Daniel Wu among others. Directed by Dylan Robertson and Dennis Nishi. Produced by Radiant Features.


Arushi Jain  | Nature Gardens   |  9:00 pM

Arushi Jain New

Arushi Jain is a modular synthesist, singer, producer, radio host and engineer with an unorthodox vision of a centuries-old tradition – one that’s electronic and resolutely DIY. Her compositions are inspired by Hindustani classical ragas, explored in an aesthetic that is contemporary and current. Her music is a unique reinterpretation of her two contrasting worlds colliding. Arushi grew up in Delhi, where she was exposed to Indian classical and other regional music from a young age. Later, Arushi moved to California to study Computer Science at Stanford University, where she was introduced to computer generated sounds and synthesis at the Centre for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics (CCRMA). Her work has been featured on Pitchfork, Bandcamp, Boiler Room, Ableton, Resident Advisor, FACT, Crack, DJMag, and more. Arushi is the founder of GHUNGHRU, a radio series and record label, and is a resident at NTS Radio and boxout.fm. 

MARAL  | Nature Gardens   |  8:00 pM


Maral’s sonic palette incorporates a collage of Iranian Classical & Folk samples and explores genres of experimental electronic production such as noise, punk/post-punk, and dub. Maral has released two critically acclaimed records, Ground Groove (2022) and Push (2020) on Leaving Records. She has collaborated with artists such as Lee "Scratch" Perry, Panda Bear, Penny Rimbaud of Crass, Anika, Black Dice, Automatic and more. 

DJ ET IV   |  NATURE GARDENS  |  5:00 pm–8:00 pm


ET IV is a multidisciplinary artist born and raised in the Bay Area with ancestral roots in the Philippines.  He is the founder of ASTIG Sound, an independent label that curates events and releases–celebrating classic and future OPM+ diasporic sounds. When not digging for loops or visuals to sample, he can be found on stage DJing for Ruby Ibarra & the Balikbayans or rocking dance floors along the west coast and beyond.



FF 2023 R&C
FF 2023 R&C 3

Explore the work and collections of NHM with special displays from our collections. We'll be looking at natural world inspiration for sci-fi critters, cultural inspirations for costumes and props, and much more examples from our collection. 

Alf Museum’s Cosplay for Science Initiative   | OTIS BOOTH PAVILION - GROUND LEVEL 

Alf Museum's Cosplay For Science Initiative logo small
Alf Museum's Cosplay For Science Initiative

The Alf Museum’s Cosplay for Science Initiative assembles scientists, educators, and cosplayers to bridge the connection between science and pop culture. Brought to you by the Raymond M. Alf Museum of Paleontology.  Visit the Alf Museum's Cosplay for Science Initiative at the Otis Booth Pavilion on the Ground Level for a special Pop-Up Experience and join in the science and fantasy fun.

giant robot   | Level 1 Foyer - Next to the dueling dinos

Giant Robot logo small

Established in 2001, Giant Robot Store, features products from around the world. Notably, fun house wares, gifts, stationeries, t shirts, comics, plush and toy figures. Giant Robot is often cited as the birthplace for Asian Pop Culture products and Uglydolls.



NOthing new: A Remake podcast   | LEVEL 1 FOYER - NEXT TO DINO HALL  

Nothing New: A Remake Podcast

Nothing New is a podcast focused on film remakes and how they have evolved over the years. Ranging from blockbuster hits to underrated gems, each episode tackles one specific pairing of an original film and its remake. Hosted by Andrew Linde and Justin QuizonVisit and chat with Nothing New: A Remake Podcast at the foyer on Level 1 next to the Dino Hall and talk about all the wonders and enjoyment found at the intersection of fandoms, fantasy, and science.  


Krystopher Baioa   | LEVEL 1 FOYER - NEXT TO DINO HALL  

  • 6pm - Level 1 Foyer
  • 7:30pm - Garden Level / Main Stage
Krystopher Baioa / Godzilla
Krystopher Baioa

Krystopher Baioa is an artist based in LA. He moved to California to get into the special fx industry. His lifelong love for Godzilla culminated into building a 6.5 foot tall wearable Godzilla suit.  The costume is made out of different foam materials such as upholstery foam and L200 foam. 



M.E. Pop-Ups  | East Entrance—Welcome table  |  5:30 PM  &  7:30 PM

Join one of our knowledgeable Museum Educators in a series of 30-minute pop-up presentations throughout the Museum to get some first-hand insights about our illuminating exhibits and vast collections.  Meet the M.E.s at the top of the steps near the Welcome Table located at East Entrance. 

Kay Lai

Kay Lai (they/them) is a Museum Educator at NHMLA and La Brea Tar Pits. Though they have a background in teaching many different subjects, science is their favorite! They hope to inspire curiosity in guests to find wonder in all things, no matter how big or small.

5:30 - How I Met Your Mothra: The Biology and Culture Behind the Queen of Monsters 


Tony Turner

Tony Turner (He/Him) is a museum educator who's passionate about anything large and reptilian. He started as a volunteer with the Dinosaur Institute, and has participated in several field expeditions to dig up a new species of sauropod. He continues to share his enthusiasm about the natural world around us.

7:30 - God and Monster: The Evolving Symbolism of Godzilla 


This Month's Featured Food Trucks

The entrance to the Blue Structure is on Figueroa Boulevard at 39th Street. From there, it is just a short walk to NHM.
accepting all credit cards, Apple Pay, Cash App, and CASH.

First Fridays welcomes and celebrates the creativity of cosplayers.  Please follow these basic guidelines for a safe, inclusive, and family-friendly experience for everyone. Guests who do not follow these guidelines are not allowed entry or will be removed from the event.

All Museum rules still apply

  • No functional props or weapons are allowed 
  • No masks that cover the entire head and face
  • No costumes may be realistic depictions of American law enforcement, current American military uniforms, first responders, emergency medical personnel, or any official government agent. 
  • Costumes must not obstruct or impede the flow of traffic or entryways. 
  • First Fridays is an All Ages/Family Friendly event and all costumes must be respectful of all guests.



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