Life with my three year olds often revolves around negotiation. I try to convince them to eat their vegetables, pick up their toys, and behave in public. In return, they bargain with me for trips to the zoo, cookies, trains, and dinosaurs. The majority of the time, our negotiations go nowhere but every once in a while, one of us gets lucky. This time, the kids got their dinosaurs.
The Natural History Museum is a Los Angeles institution. Its located in the heart of LA, next to the Coliseum, in Exposition Park (and yes, its worth the traffic to get there). The gargantuan staircase out front leads you into a world of paleontology, dioramas of African mammals, and California history. Walking through the museum’s grandiose halls swept me back in time to the days of elementary school field trips and excited exploration.
The diorama halls are old fashioned but still entertaining. Its nice to be able to stand so close to wild (stuffed) animals and actually get a feel for their true size. Even with that mid twentieth century feel, we still had plenty of fun indentifying the African and North American Mammals.
Of course, my kids came with expectations to see dinosaurs. Unfortunately, most of the dinosaurs are currently not on exhibit. The Dinosaur Hall is undergoing major renovations for a state of the art exhibit to open in 2011. You better believe we will be there for that! In the meantime you can still see a Trex and Triceratops battle it our in the Grand Foyer or peek inside the windows of the Dino Lab to see real paleontologists hard at work during the restoration process.
The Bird Hall was another fun place to explore. There were stuffed birds everywhere! Dioramas of birds. Birds behind glass cases. Eggs from different species of birds. It was avian madness!!!!! My favorite display was the hummingbird egg next to the ostrich egg. It really put into perspective just how diverse nature can be.
We quickly walked through the Gems and Minerals, Shells, and ancient Latin American Art because quite frankly, my three year olds just weren’t that interested. We spent a bit more time in the American and California History because it involved swords, cable cars, and model ships. But what really excited my kids was the Discovery Center.
The Discovery Center is geared towards children and gives plenty of hands on opportunities. Ben could have spent the rest of his life building the Trex and searching for bones in the Paleontology Dig Pit. Mari enjoyed the pit as well but she also loved searching for tiny creatures inside the many terrariums they had set up inside the center. She found everything from snakes, to beetles, to giant hairy tarantulas! Eek!
All in all, I think the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County has something to offer for everyone. Are interested in spending some time exploring those great halls? Looking for details? The museum is located at 900 Exposition Blvd in Los Angeles and is open from 9:30 to 5:00 seven days a week. Adult admission is $9, Children 13-17 are $6.50, 5-12 years old are only $2 and Children under 5 are FREE. Such a bargain!