The Natural History Museum (NHM) occupies a special place in Los Angeles: It is L.A.’s oldest museum building, and the present-day anchor of an emerging cultural, educational, and entertainment hub in Exposition Park. NHM visitors are awed by extraordinary specimens and the stories behind them in exhibitions such as Age of Mammals, the Dinosaur Hall, the Gem and Mineral Hall, and beloved dioramas. But in addition to sharing the history of the planet, NHM also explores a more local transformation: Becoming Los Angeles, the outdoor Nature Gardens, and the Nature Lab look at how environment and people, past and present, interact in L.A. The unifying theme in these indoor and outdoor experiences is the interplay of nature and culture, in Los Angeles and the world.
The asphalt seeps at La Brea Tar Pits are the only consistently-active and urban Ice Age excavation site in the world. This makes the site a unique, accessible window into science—where fossils are discovered, prepared, researched, and displayed in one place. Outside, visitors can watch as the remains of plants and animals living over the last 50,000 years are unearthed in real time. Inside the museum, scientists and volunteers clean, repair, and identify those very fossils. The best specimens are displayed and available for research: extraordinary saber-toothed cats, giant sloths, dire wolves, mammoths, and mastodons. But the small fossils are important too. Microscopic plants, insects, and reptiles tells us a lot about the changing ecosystems in which they lived, and we use those insights to investigate climate change today.
A Hollywood legend. A cowboy. William S. Hart may have starred in 1920s silent films, but his lifestyle was anything but quiet—exemplified by his eclectic 22-room mansion and ranch on a 166-acre park. At the William S. Hart Museum, visitors are invited to step into Hart’s wild, wonderful world, exploring his home and belongings (dog bedroom included), greeting a herd of wild bison donated by Walt Disney, or hiking through the wildflowers of Hart Park.