Dinosaurs, dioramas and Devo: That’s just a start to how you can mark the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County’s centennial, which officially kicks off on June 9 with a day-to-night celebration featuring kid-friendly activities, workshops in the new 3.5-acre Nature Gardens, behind-the-scenes tours and musical entertainment starring ’80s rock band Devo.
The museum has been gearing up for the milestone over the last decade by transforming itself into an indoor-outdoor visitor experience that not only gives you a window into the past with dioramas and a new dinosaur hall, but also offers a butterfly pavilion and soon-to-open garden that lets you explore the living environment around us.
In the dinosaur hall, ogle 300 fossils and 20 complete skeletons of dinosaurs and ancient sea creatures. It’s also the only place in the world where you can see Tyrannosaurus rex skeletons from three different phases of the dino’s life: baby, juvenile and sub-adult. The two-year-old baby is the youngest known T. rex fossil in the world.
Stepping outside into the butterfly pavilion, you enter a world where 53 species (20 native to California) of butterflies and moths flit and frolic during their two-week lifespan, laying eggs that will eventually hatch into caterpillars to continue their cycle of life. The pavilion is stocked with plants such as heliotrope, island bush mallow and bronze fennel, all optimal for cultivating the lifestyle of any one of the buckeyes, California dogfaces or zebra longwings that may want to sip on flower nectar or snack on leaves. Be prepared for an up-close experience — the flutterers often like to land on you.
Across the path from the butterfly pavilion, you will soon be able to explore the new Nature Gardens, a 3.5-acre outdoor exhibit opening June 9. The space that used to be asphalt parking lots on the museum’s north and east sides is now stocked with plants native to California, providing the perfect environment for observing birds and butterflies, learning to track species and engaging in gardening workshops.
Even more exhibits are opening throughout the summer to continue the NHM’s centennial year. “Becoming Los Angeles,” a 14,000-square-foot exhibit that explores the city’s history over hundreds of years, is slated to debut in July. At the hands-on Nature Lab, discover the stories behind the animals and specimens featured at the Los Angeles museum. And once the three-story, glass-enclosed Otis Booth Pavilion is unveiled, it will serve as a new entrance to the museum and showcase a 63-foot-long fin whale specimen.
Photos Courtesy of Christina Xenos, Natural History Museum