The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles

Take A Trip Through The Wonders of the Natural World-And Don't Break Your Bank

dueling dinosaurs

Natural History Museum of Los Angeles

Newly renovated and refurbished, the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles is an under appreciated attraction that deserves your visit!

It may seem a bit old fashioned to some, but this museum, opened in 1913, has a ton of charm and has some one of kind exhibits on display that are unique and really interesting. Plus it has a ton of fun interactive displays and is only 9$ for an adult ticket! Oh and it's huge... It's the largest of it's kind in the Western U.S.

natural history museum of los angeles In other words I think it's a pretty great bang for your buck Los Angeles attraction!

The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles is in exposition park near USC. Another great LA attraction, the California Science Center is on the same grounds so you could combine the two into one visit if you wanted. Be warned though, both museums are huge and can easily take up a whole day each if you want to see and do everything.

So what makes the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles worth trekking down there?

Let's take a look at some of the highlights and you can decide for yourself whether it sounds appealing:


Level 1

Be sure to take a look at the “Today at the Museum” board that's set up just past the ticketing area. Here you can see the various features planned for that day like live animal presentations, films, gallery tours and more.

Duelling Dinos

This is as spectacular a welcome as you could ask for! Enter the main central hall and check out the huge Triceratops and T-Rex battling it out (pictured above). These collosal beasts are actually replicas of the true fossils that are in the museum's collection. The architecture in this room is something to behold too, a fitting environment to display these amazing giants.

catalina oar fish

The Catalina Oarfish

I certainly hadn't heard about this bizarre creature before coming to the museum. Don't miss this fascinating fish, found in a cove on Catalina island in 2006, that is thought to have been the basis for many “Sea Serpent” sightings over the years. When you check it out you'll see why! Level 1, hallway next to the duelling dinos.


Another crazy looking fish on display. In fact this is one of only 3 Megamouth sharks on display in the world. Once again, take one look at it and you'll know why it got it's name ;o) Level 1, opposite hallway from the oarfish.

African Mammals

These are the classic dioaramas that come to mind when one thinks of a natural history museum. Various animals mounted on display in their natural habitats allowing visitors to study them up close. Some of the animals included:

  • African Elephant
  • Rhinoceros
  • Spotted hyena
  • Hippopotamus
  • Okapi
  • Lion
  • Western lowland Gorilla
  • Giraffe

rhinos diorama

North American Mammals

Similar dioramas showcasing the various animals that inhabit our continent. This exhibit can be found both on the 1st and 2nd floors. Some of the animals included:

  • Moose
  • Jaguar
  • Grizzly Bear
  • Bison
  • Buffalo
  • Pronghorn

buffalo diorama

Gems and Minerals

When I first looked at the museum map I didn't get too excited about this section. However, when I checked it out I was blown away. The sheer number of gems and minerals on display is staggering. On top of the huge variety of dazzling pieces, the natural history museum of Los Angeles has done a beautiful job in their presentation. The back lit display cases seem to float in the darkness, creating a very cool environment. The museum presents a lot of interesting information on how the earth naturally creates these wonders. You can even touch some of the specimens, including some meteorites.

gem pictures

The display on gold and the gold rush is particularly interesting. They must have 50 pounds of real gold on display!

Also be sure to check out the gem vault where you can peruse a huge variety of precious stones like diamonds, opals, emeralds , rubies, sapphires and more.


This is a flexible exhibition space where the museum displays works and projects from a variety of Los Angeles students ranging from grade school to high school. Here they can put on display, their projects that have helped them learn about natural history. A nice way to get the kid's interested in the natural sciences!

Level 2

Hall of Birds

This is another huge and varied exhibit displaying a truly massive collection of birds from all over the world, including over 400 species local to Southern California!

Be sure not to miss the “Bird Feats” exhibit showcasing all the “blue ribbon” winners in various categories like Longest beak compared to body, largest egg (both alive and extinct), highest altitude flying and more. hummingbird There are a multitude of interactive displays that teach in fun ways about all things “bird”. How do different birds see? How to birds fly? How does that hen actually “release” that size of an egg? ;o)

Check out the beautifully created “Marsh” and “Rainforest” environments. See if you can pick out the different types of bird calls.

Dino Lab

Since most of the natural history museum of Los Angeles' dinosaur fossils are being prepared for the new “Dinosaur Mysteries” exhibit that opens in 2011, the “Dino Lab” has taken over. And there's nothing wrong with that! This is a very cool behind the scenes look at how dinosaur fossils are cleaned, restored, and prepared for displaying. Everything you see in the lab is real. You can watch technicians working away in their futuristic looking office. The architecture may have been planned with the public's enjoyment in mind. Fine be me as it adds a lot to the experience.

dino lab

There's both a T-Rex footprint and T-Rex toe bone fossil on display. 66 million and 120 million years old respectively and both of which you can touch.

It's interesting looking at the “dino blueprints” they have posted on the lab's wall. Since fossils found in the field are almost never complete, these paleontologists must put them back together, almost like a puzzle. This really is a fascinating idea for an exhibit and should not be missed if your interested in what goes on behind the scenes.

Level G

insect zoo

Discovery Center and Insect Zoo

This special section of the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles is focused on hands on activities.

Try your hand at the T. Rex puzzle that hangs on one of the walls. Made up of magnetic “bones”, this is a challenging way to learn about dinosaur physiology.

Or get down and dirty and learn about fossil hunting in the paleontology dig pit. Here you can search for replica fossils with some of the real tools used in the field. See if you can spot the bones of T. Rex and the Hadrosaur, a duck billed dinosaur. There's also a play area stocked with loads of stuffed animals representing the different members of the museum. A fun way for kids to play and learn the names of the different animals.

Also don't miss the insect zoo! A collection of some of the most bizarre and creepy insects you'd hope to see. Each species has their own little terrarium. The giant salmon tarantula is something to behold, considering it's the size of a small dog. O.k. maybe I'm exaggerating a touch ;o)

Live animal presentations daily at 11am and 3pm.

Educational story time for kids daily at 12 noon. California History

This is a great way to learn about the fascinating history of our home state. The exhibit maintains many period artifacts from around 1540 to 1940.

The gallery covers 12 themes:

  • Native Americans
  • Exploration
  • Spanish Outposts
  • International competition for the South West
  • Mexican Territory
  • War with the U.S.
  • 31st state
  • Craftsman Style
  • Agriculture
  • Sea & Air
  • The Movies
  • Los Angeles

    chumash hut

    Don't miss the life size replicas of housing used in the past.

    Similar to the Dino Lab, you can watch as “conservators” work to refurbish old exhibits. These fixed up artifacts will be displayed in the new California Hall set to open in 2012. They sure don't rest on their laurels!

    Events and Activities

    First Fridays at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles

    From January 8th to June 4th 2010 get ready for the return of First Fridays, the award winning combination of live music, scientific discussions, lectures and tours of the museum. This is a great event that you guys should definitely check out. It happens on the first Friday of every month and stays open till 10pm. Putting live bands and world renowned lecturers together is a cool idea that really worked when I went. I got to listen to Donald Johanson speak, the discover of the famous hominid skeleton “Lucy”. Considering it only costs $9, the price of a museum admission, I definitely think it's worth going.

    The Bug Fair

    The 24th annual bug fair, one of the most popular events held at the museum, will be happening on May 15-16th 2010. The museum goes bug crazy inviting a ton of guests to present everything bug related. Learn how to pin an insect for a collection, make a terrarium, see live insect handling and more. All included with regular admission.

    Pavillion of Wings

    Starting in April 2010 and ending on Labor Day in September, the pavilion that is set up on the south lawn gives you a chance to 40 different butterfly and moth species flitting and fluttering around the various flowers and plants. The exhibit gives you a chance to see these beautiful animals interact with their environment up close and personal. It's 3$ extra and will be open from 10 am to 5 pm.

    The Renovations


    Opening this summer will be the newly renovated 1913 section of the Natural History museum of Los Angeles. The famous circular rotunda with its beautiful stained glass skylight will again opened to the public, cleaned and strengthened. The goal of the new rotunda galleries will be to present “strange and visually arresting specimens that inspire fascinating questions.”

    The other new gallery that will be opening is the “Age of Mammals”. Taking lead from their sister museum the La Brea Tar Pits , the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles is gonna be getting into the “Ice Age” game. Come check out sabretoothed cats, extinct camels and weird giant ground sloths.

    Considering the name it's hard not to get excited for the unveiling of the mysterious Brontops! Whatever that is ;o)

    I'm hoping for a Brontosaurus sized Triceratops! Doubt it's gonna happen... 2011

    Dinosaur Mysteries

    This is gonna be the crown jewel of the museum when it opens. It will maintain the largest number of dinosaur fossils on display in one exhibit in the world! It will include a giant aquatic “Morenosaurus” “swimming through the air” above the visitor. Sign me up!

    The good people at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles are also building 3 acres of garden for you to stroll through and in order to attract local butterflies.


    The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles is open 7 days a week from 9:30 am to 5 pm.


    Adults $9 Seniors (62+) $6.50 Students 18 and over with ID $6.50 Children 13-17 $6.50 Children 5-12 $2 Children under 5 FREE


    From the Westside 10 East, exit Vermont Ave., turn right. Left onto Exposition Blvd. Museum is on the right.

    From the South 110 North, exit Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., turn left. Right on Menlo Ave.Museum is on the left.

    From Pasadena, Downtown 110 South, exit Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., turn right. Right on Menlo Ave. Museum is on the left.


    There are lots right near the museum but they charge $8 for the day. Don't bother with those, there is free street parking available across Vermont st. in the residential area. It adds a few minutes to your walk but is definitely worth it.

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