Center for Nature and Culture

The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County (NHM) has unveiled concept designs by Los Angeles architecture firm Frederick Fisher and Partners (FF&P) that would support new uses for the west and south sides and establish new points of entry into the building from Exposition Park. Following a period of strategic planning for the future, the Center for Nature and Culture is the first major step of an ambitious 10-year program to revitalize NHM’s profile as the historic hub of Exposition Park, and reimagine the physical space and programs of its world-renowned Ice Age fossil site at La Brea Tar Pits in Hancock Park.

“Exposition Park, and the Natural History Museum as its anchor, is about to enter the world stage as a cultural, entertainment, sports, and education destination,” said Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas. “Its audiences are twofold: local Los Angeles residents and visitors from all over the world, and the park partners all need to connect with both. This new project provides a vibrant and transparent window into the mysteries of our world and will be an exciting and welcoming venue for the entire community.”

Natural History Museum west wing at night (view from southwest)

The plan includes a suite of new elements that will welcome guests to NHM:

  • Three-story addition totaling approximately 485,000 sq. ft.
  • Multi-purpose, immersive theater
  • New entrance at the southwest corner with double-height lobby
  • Welcome Center and other amenities that connect to the Grand Foyer via a transparent passageway
  • Rooftop restaurant with panoramic views across the city

In collaboration with NHM, FF&P has developed a facilities program plan with an eye toward further increasing flexibility, capacity and transparency of the museum’s gallery space, creating a new study center for Los Angeles and educational spaces, and enhancing the visible storage of its collections. A key component of the program plan is a multi-purpose, immersive theater that will serve as a meeting space for dialogue about critical issues affecting our natural and cultural worlds, and as a vital gathering place for the community and neighborhoods around Exposition Park.

New lobby, welcome center, and theater entrance

“The guiding principle of our new museum project is to create an engaging accessible hub that activates our collections, exhibitions and programs to better serve our community and have a greater impact on people’s lives,” said Dr. Lori Bettison-Varga, President and Director of the Natural History Museums of Los Angeles County (NHMLAC). “We aim to bring more of our behind-the-scenes work into the light and create more opportunities for the public to connect with our ongoing scientific research and vast collections. In selecting FF&P as our partner, we have chosen a firm that has the proven ability to create fluid indoor-outdoor spaces that speak to the values of the client, as well as extensive experience in adapting historic buildings to create transparent and welcoming environments for broad audiences.”

View the full press release.