“Becoming Los Angeles”

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With an already unparalleled collection of South Californian artifacts, The Los Angeles County Natural History Museum is preparing to open a new exhibition in December 2012. The permanent new exhibit, given the working title Becoming Los Angeles, will “illustrate the city’s transformations by exploring its cultural and ecological histories—and illuminating their interconnectedness.”

The new 14,000-square-foot hall, composed of four galleries in two of the museum’s newly renovated buildings, will be an interactive display featuring storytelling, contemporary design, unique objects, and multi-media that chronicle 500 years of L.A. history. An aesthetically pleasing and architecturally impressive canopy will lead visitors through the exhibit’s major sections and historical eras, symbolizing the intertwined and overlapping expanse of history. Important segments of the exhibition include the pre-Spanish landscape, Mission Era, Mexican Rancho Era, the early years of the American Period, the emergence of a new American city in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and L.A. as a global city of the 21st century.

Becoming LA

A simulation of the new “Becoming LA” exhibit.

The exhibit juxtaposes the past and the present in a cohesive narrative, illustrating historical and cultural cause and effect in the natural world and human society. The museum is excited to present many iconic objects, such as a cross from Mission San Gabriel, an inscribed sword from the Mexican war of independence, an oil pump pulled from a 1920’s L.A. oil field, and Walt Disney’s original animation stand, which was used to draw “Steamboat Willie,” the first cartoon that featured Mickey Mouse. Many other rare objects, never before displayed in public, will be on display, including artifacts from the Native American period to the emerging motion picture industry.

State-of-the-art design and multi-media components give visitors the chance to hear first-person stories and witness historic events that have shaped Los Angeles. Stories range from the well-known tale of the construction of the Los Angeles Aqueduct in 1913 to plagues of grasshoppers and booster campaigns that helped lead to the area’s transformation into an agricultural empire.

The opening of Becoming Los Angeles will be a major event leading up to the Museum of Natural History’s 100th birthday in 2013. It follows in the successful tradition of the “NHM Next Campaign,” which opened Age of Mammals in 2010 and the new Dinosaur Hall, opened in 2011. The campaign was designed to re-open the Beaux Arts 1913 building in time for the museum’s centennial year. More debuts are still to come in 2013.

While in Los Angeles, be sure to check out other area museums and attractions, many of which helped shape Los Angeles themselves. A few notable sites are Knotts Berry Farm, the nation’s first theme park and Paramount Movie Studio, the only major classic film studio still in Hollywood. Visit these and over 30 other attractions for one low price with our Go Los Angeles Card.

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