The NHMLA’s new Dinosaur Hall is one of the most extraordinary dinosaur exhibits in the world, and the premier dinosaur experience in the western United States. Inside are more than 300 real fossils, and 20 complete dinosaurs and ancient sea creatures.
One of the centerpieces of the exhibit is the T. rex growth series — the only trio of different aged T. rex specimens in the world.
One of the great things about the Dinosaur Hall is how close the design lets you get to the fossils! Look a Triceratops in the eye, or walk under the neck of a 68-foot Mamenchisaurus that’s longer than a city bus!
All 20 of the complete dinosaur and sea creature mounts have either never been on display before, or have been re-posed according to the latest research. Many were discovered in the last several years by the Museum’s in-house Dinosaur Institute.
The Dinosaur Hall doesn’t just have fossils. The exhibition is also packed with multi-media stations where you can “excavate” specimens and watch never-before-seen footage of a real dinosaur hunting expedition.
Locals, mostly. Many of the most remarkable specimens in this exhibit called SoCal home. The Simi Valley mastodon stomped around the area through which the Ronald Reagan Freeway now runs; the mysterious paleoparadoxiid spent its days in the hills of modern-day Laguna; and both the giant jaguar and saber-toothed cat stalked their prey right in the heart of what we now know as the Miracle Mile.
Be a Paleontologist! Besides the amazing taxidermy and skeleton specimens you’ll encounter in Age of Mammals, the Museum’s scientists and exhibition designers have created fun, interactive kiosks that will make you think you’re out in a fossil field, or inside a paleontology lab like the one here at the NHMLA. You’ll be able to “excavate” the paleoparadoxiid bones, figure out where they belong, and assemble the skeleton yourself!
Continents shift and climates change. We hear so much about global warming in the news because we’re currently experiencing a period of dramatic climate change, but there’s nothing new about it. Age of Mammals presents a long-range perspective to our contemporary situation. Earth’s climate has been changing for millions of years, and those changes have influenced the evolution of mammals — our evolution. When Antarctica was isolated through continental shift millions of years ago, the Earth got cooler and dryer. Vegetation changes came in the form of fewer forests and more grasslands, and then mammals, our ancestors included, evolved to their changing environments. And came to become the remarkable range of species we witness on Earth today.
Mastodons and mammoths were not the same. Although the American mastodon was a relative of prehistoric mammoths, they were distinctly different animals. Mastodons like the one you’ll see in Age of Mammals stood at about half the height of taller mammoths. The two animals had different diets, and therefore evolved different types of teeth, too. The mastodon's simple and low-crowned teeth tell us it was a browser; it tended to eat leaves and twigs. Mammoths (like the Columbian mammoth on view at the Page Museum at the La Brea Tar Pits were grazers; their tall teeth were ideal for munching on grass, much like present-day cows.
Orange County Native. A most mysterious mammal. Paleoparadoxiid, or “Mystery Mammal,” is a previously unknown species of mammal that lived in coastal Southern California about 10 to 12 million years ago. The specimen on display in Age of Mammals is the first known individual of its kind, uncovered in Orange County, CA, during construction of a golf course. Paleoparadoxiids were herbivorous, creatures, and in life they probably four legged, amphibious looked and acted like hippos. Their closest living relatives are elephants, sea cows and manatees.
Take a continental vacation without leaving the room. Our North American Mammal Halls contain realistic depictions of a range of this continent’s most fascinating environments. Visit arctic ice floes, offshore islands, grasslands, prairies, desert, mountains, tropical rainforests, redwood forests, and the arctic tundra — all in one trip
Always something new to see. Our world-class dioramas were first created in the 1930s, and are so packed with specimens and environmental details that you’ll always discover something you haven’t seen before. Plus we’re constantly updating these exhibits with new specimens.
The fine art of natural history. The magnificent backdrops for the dioramas were painted by noteworthy artists and are valued pieces of fine art in their own right.
Care and feeding. The animals in our dioramas may not need the same level of care as live creatures, however, creating and maintaining the realistic-looking and accurate dioramas for our halls is an ongoing process. Many institutions display dioramas, but the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County is unique in that it has, since the 1920s, maintained a full-time diorama program with dedicated staff artists. Learn more about the diorama artists >
Stand face-to-face (and fearless) with wild and dangerous creatures. If you ran into many of these creatures in the wild you’d want to get as far away as possible. But here you can take your time and closely study dozens of ferocious or elusive animals. Go ahead and count every one of the grizzly’s sharp teeth if you want, risk-free.
Land ho! 1542. Imagine what it was really like to explore the California seacoast more than 450 years ago. Look for the elaborate diorama that recreates, in cross-section, the San Salvadore, the ship captained by Spanish sailor and explorer Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo. Details of the crew and supplies are based on actual records from the original ship log. Check out the California History Hall >
A little pueblo known as Los Angeles. How does L.A.’s current population compare to the early “founders” or “pobladores”? The city of Los Angeles has a current estimated population of almost 4 million. But the original settlement consisted of only 44 people — a total of 11 families. The pobladores were multi-racial of Indian, African and European origin — a preview of the city’s dynamic multi-ethnic population of today.
Come fly with me. Los Angeles has a longstanding reputation as an automobile-dependent town. But the city is not just about cars and freeways. L.A. has a significant history as an aviation center that goes as far back as the early 1900s when, due to its open geography and climate, the city was heavily promoted as a prime location to test and manufacture airplanes.
City of the future. Despite its rich history, Los Angeles is continually changing and reinventing itself. Evidence of the city’s past is sometimes quite elusive. If you’re seeking solid proof that L.A. didn’t just spring up overnight, inspect the fascinating aerial map of L.A in 1894 or survey the elaborate 3-D scale model of downtown L.A. in the 1930s, which catalogues the city, block by block. Time doesn’t stand still in L.A., but these snapshots bring the city’s invisible past into sharp focus.
Not your typical safari. The African Mammal Hall, first opened in 1930, realistically represents creatures and habitats from an Africa that is fast disappearing. To create the elaborate African mammal dioramas, the Museum would send an entire crew on location, including a collector, a museum curator, taxidermists, and an artist or two to sketch the environment and gather native rocks and plant material.
The fine art of natural history. The magnificent backdrops for the dioramas were painted by noteworthy artists and are valued pieces of fine art in their own right, worthy of display in an art museum. Lest we take ourselves too seriously, one of our artists was also renowned for painting backdrops in his underwear! Learn more
See “invisible” creatures. Some shy, solitary or nocturnal creatures represented in the African Hall often elude the human eye and are rarely seen in the wild. The greater kudu first appeared in the fossil record about 1.8 million years ago. However, this animal is rarely seen due to its highly effective camouflage. Here’s your opportunity to actually see one!
Rock your world. The diversity and beauty of minerals on our planet is astounding and so is our Hall of Gems and Minerals. Be sure to catch the breathtakingly beautiful Gem Crystal exhibit (at the far end of the hall near the exit), which highlights some of the Museum's best gem and mineral specimens using dramatic fiber-optic lighting.
The next time you stub your toe on a stone at least you’ll be able to curse it by name…. Discover the geological richness that exists right where you live. Explore the finest display of California minerals in the world and learn about the rich array of minerals and gems in the region.
Gorgeous Geology. Our Hixon Gem Vault houses one of the finest, most captivating gem displays in the country including exquisite rubies, sapphires and emeralds as well as many rare and little known gems. Jewel enthusiasts have a tough time dragging themselves out of the vault.
Heavy metal. Our Gem and Mineral Hall contains one of the largest exhibits of all-natural gold in the world, featuring over 300 lbs total weight in gold, displayed in many of its most surprising forms. Learn more about the hall >
Top drawer. Feel free to slide open the drawers in the bird hall to examine an assortment of specimens. You’ll discover a surprising variety of bird feet, wing shapes and eggs (large and small). You can even see how bird specimens are prepared for behind-the-scenes study. Learn more >
Visit a prairie marsh at sunrise — and leave your rubber boots at home. Our immersive marsh exhibit will make you feel like you’re actually trekking through wetlands teeming with life.
Our dense rainforest is home to dozens of birds and other rainforest creatures. Look carefully or you could walk right by some of the most interesting displays — subtly and realistically camouflaged within the thick greenery.
Avian Architects. More than just a place to store a few eggs, bird nests are often feats of architectural ingenuity. Nest types are incredibly diverse. Some are simple depressions in the ground, while others are long pendulous hanging structures. Building methods and materials run the gamut too — stones, leaves, feathers, branches — there are even nests made entirely of bird saliva.
Spider school. Much of the information people have heard about spiders is often incorrect or completely fabricated — based more on myth and misconception than reality. To better understand these fragile, reclusive creatures, take some time to appreciate the variety of spiders in the Spider Pavilion and even meet one up close in this safe environment.
Small creatures, enormous thrill. Spiders are often described as scary bugs and they seem so foreign to many of us. Although most people see spiders as venomous monsters, nothing in the Spider Pavilion is dangerous. Take this opportunity to face these gentle spiders, two eyes to eight eyes.
Being a spider is not easy. Spiders are some of the world’s most misunderstood creatures, yet they are important players in most habitats. They are extremely shy and most of them are very fragile. The world that spiders inhabit is a perilous place and they must worry constantly about being crushed or eaten.
Bug re-education. Explore the Insect Zoo and get to know the truth about even some of the most familiar bugs you think you already know. For example, did you know that there are there are some cockroaches that look after their young for years? Something to consider before hunting down that unsuspecting critter scurrying in the kitchen.
Avoiding the limelight. Bugs certainly aren’t trying to get attention. Most of them are quite shy. The Insect Zoo presents these elusive creatures in a way that allows you to observe them from all angles so you can see how they really act and live.
Now you see them, now you don’t. Insects have some amazing traits to help them survive, including camouflage. Some disguise themselves and move ever so slowly so as not to be detected. Watch patiently. Are those cases empty, or are those twigs and leaves actually some incredibly camouflage insects?
Snacks to avoid. Some bugs are brightly colored and have such distinctive patterns that they really stand out against their surroundings. This instant recognizability can actually work to everyone’s advantage. For instance, Monarch butterflies are poisonous and are best not eaten. Their markings warn predators to stay away, simultaneously protecting the predator from poison, and the butterfly from becoming someone else’s meal.
We are grateful to our Institutional Partners