Strategic Document | Natural History Museum of Los Angeles

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Our Strategic Framework


The Natural History Family of Museums—the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, the La Brea Tar Pits and Museum, and the William S. Hart Museum—occupies an unrivaled position in its natural and cultural landscape. As home to over 35 million specimens and artifacts, we have the largest natural and cultural history collection in the western United States, a range of indoor and outdoor experiences across our three sites which served 1.3 million visitors in FY16, and the only active urban paleontological excavation site in the world at the Tar Pits.



"For the people of Los Angeles and the world beyond, the Natural History Family of Museums explores connections between nature, culture, science, and history like no other institution can. This framework charts a course that fulfills our vision, and ensures the museums’ vitality and relevance for years to come"

Shannon Faulk, President, NHMLA Board of Trustees



"Our strategic priorities re-imagine how our museums, through our research and unparalleled collections, interact with our communities—onsite and beyond our walls. By committing to principles of accessibility and engagement, we’ll truly be a hub for discoveries and dialogue around critical issues of global significance and local impact."

Dr. Lori Bettison-Varga, President and Director, Natural History Family of Museums


Our Vision


To inspire wonder, discovery,
and responsibility for our
natural and cultural worlds.


Our Values



We are curious and bold, with an insatiable desire to discover and share new ideas and knowledge.



We foster and promote accessibility, collaboration, and respect for all both within our Natural History Family of Museums and out in our community.



We inspire trust by sharing with our audiences our unparalleled collections and active research to help them better understand the world around.



We are driven by our core principle of studying, educating, and inspiring audiences about our natural and cultural worlds.


Building on the momentum of new leadership at the helm and groundbreaking building and visitor experience projects, we have defined and united around an inspiring, ambitious, and forward-thinking Strategic Framework that will chart our course for the next five years and beyond. This framework was created with the input of staff, Board, and outside stakeholders, and articulates three key goals that will shape our institution.


Strategic Goals



Expand our role as
a museum with, for,
and of L.A.


To become a “museum of, for, and with L.A.,” the Natural History Family of Museums will strive to welcome, understand, reflect, and cultivate meaningful relationships with its local communities. By celebrating and illuminating L.A.’s rich natural and cultural history and diversity, we will serve as a civic anchor for the community, a partner for the County, and a hub for telling stories with global relevance and local impact.



Create a new interdisciplinary model for understanding and connecting to urban nature


The Natural History Family of Museums has a distinct opportunity to be a global leader in researching and understanding the complex and ever-evolving relationship that lies at the intersection of nature, cities, and people. By harnessing our globally renowned community science and urban nature research programs, our vast collections documenting how nature and culture have changed as L.A. has grown, and the remarkable biodiversity of this metropolitan region, we will play a critical role influencing the sustainable development of L.A., and urban areas worldwide.



Strengthen and activate our research and collections to create and communicate new knowledge about our world


The Natural History Family of Museums’ collection is an unparalleled global resource that must be studied, enhanced, protected, and experienced to advance the discovery and understanding of the natural and cultural worlds in the past, present, and future. By creating a bold and forward-thinking plan to increase resources and expand access, we will inspire the broadest public to become stewards of the earth.


Core Initiatives



NHMLA West/ South Project

Embodying our vision and values, the new wing of our museum in Exposition Park marks a commitment to a greater accessibility and communal space, including a ‘front porch’ and transparency into our collections, research activities, and public programs.




La Brea Tar Pits and Museum Master Plan

Situated in Hancock Park within the Miracle Mile cultural corridor, the La Brea Tar Pits and Museum is being re-imagined as an inclusive and immersive experience that brings the Ice Age to life and imparts a better understanding of global ecological and climate change for visitors and researchers from across the street, the country and the world.



Becoming Los Angeles

Building upon the foundation of our L.A. history collection and Becoming L.A. exhibition, we are developing a broader platform of co-curated exhibitions, public programs and digital engagement around the stories of L.A.’s history, its culture and nature, and the voices of its people.



Community Science

By leveraging our region as a living laboratory for community science, we are developing new ways for all Angelenos to understand and connect to L.A.’s rich biodiversity at our museums and beyond our walls.