Located in south Los Angeles is Exposition Park. The 160-acre park and future site of the summer 2028 Olympics is home to the John C. Argue Swim Stadium, Banc of California Stadium, the future Lucas Museum of Narrative Art, Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, California Science Center, Exposition Park Rose Garden, California African American Museum, and the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County.
Opened in 1913 as the Museum of History, Science, and Art, the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County protects over 35 million specimens, dating back 4.5 billion years. The museum is "an authority on the 'big picture' of the planet, the natural and the cultural world," according to its website, and it's the largest museum of its kind in the western United States.
On our visit to the museum, we toured the African Mammals, North American Mammals, Birds, Dinosaur Hall and Dinosaurs, Gems and Minerals, Nature Garden, and Nature Lab. The special exhibits while we were there were Green Diamonds and Tattoos. We visited the Green Diamonds exhibit, which is housed in the Gems and Minerals section and did not cost anything extra. I learned that green diamonds get their color through exposure to radiation and are eerily beautiful. While we were interested in the Tattoos exhibit, it cost twelve dollars extra and we wanted to focus our visit on the main exhibits.
My favorites were the Dinosaur Hall, African and North American Mammals, and Gems and Minerals. The Dinosaur Hall, completed in 2011, is 14,000 square feet and features 300 real fossils, and 20 complete dinosaurs and ancient sea creatures. Thomas the T. Rex demands your attention, towering ferociously over two smaller and younger T. Rexes. Displays detail the differences between mammals and dinosaurs, the tools used in archaeology (including toilet paper for wrapping specimens), and how to analyze disease in a dinosaur fossil.
The mammal halls contain dozens of taxidermied specimens housed in beautifully designed habitats. The African elephants command the African mammal hall, but I took great delight in the dainty Island gray fox, endemic to the Channel Islands and an animal I've seen in the wild, and the indomitable musk ox, 'cause baby musk ox are the cutest things on the planet right next to baby sloths. The museum works hard to make realistic dioramas, and it shows.
We ended our visit with a walk around the three and a half acre Nature Gardens, where the museum tracks bats, 168 species of birds, and other animal visitors.
For twelve dollars, the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County provides plenty of education and entertainment. I look forward to future trips and visiting other museums in Exposition Park.