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A Guide To The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles

The first museum building in Los Angeles with a massive collection of different exhibits is surely worth the visit. Preeminent in the museum field, the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles will not leave anyone indifferent. Visitors of all ages can enjoy the permanent, as well as special exhibitions. Some of the highlights are the magnificent Nature Garden, different kinds of labs such as Nature Lab or Dino Lab, beautiful photography exhibit named Frozen in Time, several animal pavilions and much more. Discovering the nature, culture, and science of Los Angeles was never such an easy thing to do!

However, if you are looking for a complete guide to this amazing museum with descriptions of each attraction, you are in the right place. At the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles, there is something for everyone. Keep reading for the best information related to this wonderful museum.

Permanent Exhibitions In The Natural History Museum Of Los Angles

Nature Garden

Edible Garden
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One of the most interesting exhibits in the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles is definitely the Nature Garden. Completely dedicated to nature, this amazing mix of jungle vibes and urban atmosphere has over 600 kinds of plants and it is home to numerous butterflies, birds, squirrels, lizards and more.

Divided into several special spots, Nature Garden is a true paradise. Head to the Pond, a lively place to watch birds and dragonflies around the water. Find inspiration for your own garden by visiting Edible Garden. Where the stone meets the soil, you’ll find a Living Wall. Moreover, when you want to feel like a child again, the Get Dirty Zone will enchant you with its digs in compost zones, stumps and branches.

Nature Garden will not only help you learn some fun facts (did you know that San Gabriel chestnut snail smells like chocolate?) but also give you different garden ideas, tips, and tricks. Welcome to wildlife wonderland!

Discovery Center

Come get your hands dirty because Discovery Center has something for every investigator! An interactive exhibit is a favorite among visitors of all ages. So it’s a perfect place to enjoy time with your family or to connect with your inner child.

Pretend to be a paleontologist, dig for dinosaurs or use your imagination to color in their skin. Visit Insect ZOO and examine insects, count the legs on a live tarantula or take a close look at dozens of mini dioramas. To investigate the natural world, the opportunities are endless. All you have to do is come and enjoy it.

Antarctic Dinosaurs

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All adventure seekers join because the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles offers you a chance to follow the steps of the explorers from a century ago! Trace their footsteps and be part of a group of scientists who dig for fossils today. After the hard work, step through the portal into Antarctica’s past and get up close and personal with a 25-foot long ‘cold-crested-killer’, Cryolophosaurus.

You can even take a virtual ride over Antarctica with an LC-130 aircraft replica or learn more about 4 new dinosaur species discovered within the last 30 years. How cool is that?

Dinosaur Lab

Who wouldn’t like to see real paleontologists working in the lab? Every day in Dinosaur Lab real scientists clean, study and prepare fossils from Dinosaur Institute expeditions. Come and see all the behind-the-scenes stories and new discoveries before they are even announced. If you want, you can even touch a dinosaur footprint.

Age of Mammals

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Another family-friendly exhibit you’ll find at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles is the Age of Mammals. A fascinating story covering 65 million years will delight even the little ones in your family.

Examine hundreds of specimens illustrating mammals’ adaptation through changing climates and different continents. See the rare Sumatran tiger or find out if a 48 million-year-old bat could echolocate. On the other hand, numerous interactive kiosks will give you a chance to identify mystery fossils and even cave them out of the rock.

The best part about this exhibit is that you will get to see a small sperm whale fossil, the only one of its kind on display anywhere in the world. Can’t beat that.

Nature Lab

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After all those dinosaur stories, it’s time to explore the L.A. wild side! The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles brings you an excellent opportunity to better understand biodiversity around us.  The whole exhibit has interactive hands-on encounters with many live-animal habitats. Prepare to spot local snakes, spiders, frogs, and rats as they enjoy their daily activities.

Along the way, don’t forget to look at yourself in the heating sensor mirror. This way, you’ll see yourself the way a rattlesnake sees you. There are also cool, daily live animal presentations worth the visit. Odin the Owl, Willow the gopher snake and Bean the tarantula are looking forward to meeting you!

Special Exhibitions In The Natural History Museum Of Los Angeles

Frozen in Time

After enjoying the Antarctica Dinosaur exhibition, extend your fascination with this continent and go visit another beautiful exhibit. The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles brought the mesmerizing work of a famous photographer Diane Tuft, who traveled to Antarctica to tell the rich story of its beauty. Where nature and art meet, Frozen in Time starts.

Frozen Museum
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Don’t miss the rare look into the frozen continent from another perspective. All landscape photos are captured in abstract ways, so you’ll have a chance to admire unseen glaciers’ cracks or even the atmospheric gas trapped inside the frozen bubbles of icy lakes. Antarctica was never so appealing!

Becoming Los Angeles

An amazing exhibit that focuses on 500 years of the history of Los Angeles is a must-visit for all those wanting to learn more about this fabulous city. Full of stories and different artifacts, you will get a chance to explore how people over many generations helped create Los Angeles.

Natural History Museum of Los Angeles
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Along the way, meet the first Angelenos, count each of the neighborhoods or record the answer to the question ‘What does Los Angeles mean to you?’. It will be fun to hear your answer among other people’s responses!

Spider Pavilion

For all those who want to have a unique open-air experience but aren’t afraid of bugs, the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles brings a real treat.  Every fall, Spider Pavilion hosts a special exhibit where you can witness the beauty of spiders’ private lives. As they are out in the open, you will get up close and personal with their spectacular webs that can range up to three meters in diameter! Don’t be afraid to capture those moments with your camera, because these little ones rarely leave their incredible work of art.

Gallery Natural History Museum of Los Angeles
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Pavilion also has an enclosed habitat surrounded by glass where you can have a face-to-face meeting with world-known tarantulas, wolf spiders, and jumping spiders. Hello tingling passing through the spine!

Educators you’ll find there will gladly answer all of your questions or tell you more about these interesting creatures.

Dueling Dinos

triceratops Natural History Museum of Los Angeles
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See the mighty Tyrannosaurus rex and the fearsome Triceratops locked in battle. The iconic dueling fossils are 67 million years old and discovered by paleontologists in Montana. Tours and stories are also adapted for children, so bring them in to enjoy the spectacular battle of the two giants.

Extra tip: don’t forget to bring your camera and take a perfect, Insta-worthy selfie with these two dinosaurs!


Animal lovers will surely enjoy the next intimate exhibition in the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles. Completely dedicated to the mountain lion named P-22, this amazing exhibit gives you a chance to learn more about L.A.’s most famous cat.

Explore his territory of eight square miles while enjoying the soundscape of his habitat. Watch camera trap footage captured by NHMLAC scientists. Imagine how it would be to jump into the car and ride into the mountain lion’s territory.
The exhibit offers a great chance to understand the efforts the team had to put to track this magnificent animal, as well as all the things they learned from it.

If you have enough time and you want to get a blast from your visit to the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles, here are some extra iconic museum moments worth the visit.

Otis Booth Pavilion

The museum’s north entrance will enchant you from the moment you see it. A magical, light-shaded space with a giant fin whale skeleton swimming through the air is a sight to remember. Thanks to two viewing floors, you’ll have a better chance to admire this amazing skeleton and even learn how the male fin whale attracts mates.

The Rotunda

Rotunda Natural History Museum of Los Angeles
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The Haaga Family Rotunda was the museum’s original Beaux-Arts entrance in 1913. Even if you are not an art lover, The Rotunda will impress you. A beautiful stained glass dome is like a crown that transmits the soft rays of sundown to the impressive Three Graces statues. They represent the muses of Art, Science, and History, holding the light. Life is really a work of art.

Plan your visit with this extra visitor information

The museum is open every day from 9.30 am to 5 pm

Smoking is prohibited, including outdoor areas

Entrance to the museum is free on the first Tuesday of every month (except July and August)

L.A. Country Residents get free museum admission every weekday from 3 pm to 5 pm (bring a valid ID!)

All exhibits are accessible for wheelchairs and strollers

Buy your tickets online and save money

There are gift shops inside the museum to buy cool souvenirs

The NHM Grill in the basement provides hot sandwiches, soups, salads and pizzas

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