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Lil' Me and the Museum

Digging up childhood memories with a member of NHMLAC's staff. Share your favorite memories with us!

The author pictured in front of the "Time Ribbon," an illustrated timeline depicting Ice Age L.A., on a visit to the museum at La Brea Tar Pits (then the George C. Page Museum) circa 1996-7. 
The author pictured in front of the "Time Ribbon," an illustrated timeline depicting Ice Age L.A., on a visit to the museum at La Brea Tar Pits (then the George C. Page Museum) circa 1996-7. 

Los Angeles ranks as one of the world’s top capitals for museums. As a preschooler, I was fortunate to live near Miracle Mile, home to Los Angeles’s museum row. My mother frequently dressed me up and we rode the bus down Wilshire Boulevard to eat lunch at the historic Original Market before she let me walk around Hancock Park and roll down the hills located at the side of the museum at La Brea Tar Pits.

La Brea Tar Pits Grassy hill kid
Photo by Gina Cholick

Being around 4 years old, I was fascinated by the famous tar pits smell, the iconic (and tragic) lake pit scene, and fossils displayed in the museum. The saber-tooth cats and their fearsome teeth, the majestic Columbian mammoth, and condors with spread boney wings. I was amazed that in the same place I was standing—a museum surrounded by a bustling metropolis with infamous rush hour traffic—once lived such unique animals and plants. And, that people continued making new fossil discoveries on site! It all seemed incredible.

Family La Brea Tar Pits Lake Pit 2020

Photo by Gina Cholick

Saber-toothed cat skeleton

By Gina Cholick

Perhaps a mounted skeleton of a saber-toothed cat caught your eye?

La Brea Tar Pits Incubator event woman with bear

Did you plant your feet on the same ground where giant creatures once roamed?

Kid sneakers wayfinding La Brea Tar Pits

Where did your sneakers lead you when you arrived at La Brea Tar Pits?

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Photo by Gina Cholick

Perhaps a mounted skeleton of a saber-toothed cat caught your eye?

By Gina Cholick

Did you plant your feet on the same ground where giant creatures once roamed?

Where did your sneakers lead you when you arrived at La Brea Tar Pits?

As an adult, it was surreal to reenter the museum at La Brea Tar Pits, this time as a member of the staff. I was immediately brought back to my childhood and the feelings of wonder and mystery the Tar Pits inspired in me all those years ago. Through my work, I feel incredibly lucky to share the wonder of the Tar Pits to Angelenos and worldwide visitors alike as NHMLAC’s Communication Manager.

Sally Marquez's as a child at the La Brea Tar Pits

Now, NHMLAC is in the process of reimagining La Brea Tar Pits for the next generation of inquiring minds. What is your first Tar Pits memory? Share your story and personal photos by tagging us at #MindBlownLA.