Event - First Fridays 2023 - May
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:
DJ SET BY:
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 Welcome! COSPLAY CONTEST AT NATURE GARDENS MAIN STAGE AT 7:45 PM
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 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-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 (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
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.
LIVE MUSIC AND DJ SET IN THE NATURE GARDENS STAGE
Arushi Jain | Nature Gardens | 9:00 pM
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.
NHM'S RESEARCH AND COLLECTIONS | OTIS BOOTH PAVILION - GROUND LEVEL
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
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
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 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 Quizon. Visit 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 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.
MUSEUM EDUCATOR POP-UPS
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 (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 (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
FIRST FRIDAYS PARKING IS ONLY AVAILABLE IN THE BLUE STRUCTURE PARKING LOT
The entrance to the Blue Structure is on Figueroa Boulevard at 39th Street. From there, it is just a short walk to NHM.
YOUR SAFETY IS OUR TOP PRIORITY. PLEASE READ THE FULL COVID-19 SAFETY GUIDELINES
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.