Two crucial portions of the 1913 Building re-opened in July 2010: The north wing, housing the building's extraordinary Age of Mammals exhibit, and the historic Haaga Family Rotunda, featuring two new installation spaces. In July of 2011, the groundbreaking Dinosaur Hall opened to great acclaim. We have added visitor amenities such as a new café, car park, pedestrian bridge, north entrance, as well as re-furbished elevators, shops, and restrooms.
Broadening the scope of the visitor experience, the Museum has also enhanced its existing series—including First Fridays, Sustainable Sundays, and B-Movies and Bad Science—and created new programming, such as expanded Critter Clubs (weekend events for 3-5 year olds) and an upcoming science-themed lecture series.
Building on the success of Dinosaur Encounters, in which life-sized dinosaur puppets—inhabited by human puppeteers—thrill audiences, the Museum has added a saber-toothed cat to its stable of performers in the new Ice Age Encounters program.
Our goal was to transform NHM into a 21st century museum by:
We are fortunate to have a building that is both an architectural and a civic gem. Blessed with this new space, we have transformed our approach to exhibits. We display extraordinary specimens, but then go further, also exploring the ways that scientists discover, excavate, and research these specimens.
Rather than create a new facility, our project re-envisions and transforms the galleries that form the foundation for our programs. The plans include programmatic changes, greater interactive learning, and educational enhancements that will serve visitors with diverse backgrounds, language needs, and learning styles. With this approach, we take a leading role in inspiring stewardship for our planet.
The renovations and new master plan are led by CO Architects and principal Jorge de la Cal and Cordell Corporation led by its president Don Webb, with Matt Construction. The new exhibits in the renovated galleries are the responsibility of Dr. Karen Wise, Vice President of Exhibits and Public Programs, who is working with a slate of world-class exhibit design firms. The landscape designer for the North Campus is Mia Lehrer and Associates.
The dioramas and their backgrounds, painted by Work Projects Administration (WPA) artists in the 1930s, are registered in historic landmarks lists and are consequently protected by law. Therefore, the beloved dioramas will remain, but we update them constantly with new specimens and labels that incorporate the latest scientific research. The dioramas are a vital part of the Museum's history and education mission. With an on-staff muralist and taxidermist, the Natural History Museum has the only active, ongoing diorama program in the country.
The physical transformation of our Exposition Park facility will not affect the Page Museum, but the philosophical transformation will certainly have an impact. We have expanded our family and adult programming at the Page Museum and its grounds. We have also worked to heighten the profile of the relevant scientific work engaging Page researchers.
Most recently, Page scientists have been focused on the astonishing new discoveries at the tar pits, revealed when the Los Angeles County Museum of Art excavated its new underground parking structure. These discoveries double the size of the Museum's Pleistocene Era collection, including a rare mammoth, one of the largest ever found. We are making strides to communicate the connections, programmatic and scientific, between the Page Museum at the La Brea Tar Pits and the Natural History Museum in Exposition Park.
Both will be essential to our growth and ongoing success. We encourage donors to think about their NHM Next Campaign gifts as special, long-term investments and as gifts, payable over a period of years, which come from assets. On the other hand, annual gifts are those that can be made from income. We also ask donors to consider bequest gifts, which will help build our endowment to secure the future of the Museum.
We have the most diverse visitors of any cultural institution in Los Angeles. We do not reach a particular demographic; we reach the entire city.
The physical improvements are only one component of our transformation-over the past several years the Museum has developed plans for the complete re-envisioning of our position as one of the region's foremost cultural institutions. The Board has committed itself to a long range strategic plan that includes significant audience development and marketing initiatives.
Based on current research, our NHM Next plans include:
We are in the midst of an ambitious slate of permanent exhibition opening. Media coverage, subsequent critical acclaim, and a higher advertising profile have resulted in spiking attendance numbers. We have momentum and visibility. The transformation is underway.
This is a unique opportunity to take a leadership position in Museum accessibility and education for the broader public. Over the last 100 years we have touched generations of Southern Californians, and it is our responsibility to ensure that future generations experience the natural world and the special access to scientific inquiry the Museum provides.
Unlike other museum campaigns, this effort is not just about new exhibitions and buildings. Within those new physical spaces and visitor experiences, there is something else afoot. The Museum is becoming a crucial hub of inquiry and conversation; it provides expertise and informed insights on some of the most pressing challenges of our time. Our transformation gives us the power to spark the minds of future scientists and inspire stewardship for the planet.