Dinosaur Encounters | Natural History Museum of Los Angeles

Hunter the T. rex puppet, part of the Dinosaur Encounters program, gives an up-close greeting to a visitor.

Dinosaur Encounters Sponsor

This program is made possible in part by a grant from the City of Los Angeles, Department of Cultural Affairs

Look for our Performing Arts Team in the Nature Gardens for Museum Special Events!
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Who's in the Puppets?

What does it take to be a dinosaur? Meet our Performing Artist Staff. Learn More

How Do They Work?

It took a team of scientists and artists to bring our dinosaurs back from the dead. 
Go Behind the Scenes

 

Dinosaur Encounters

Watch as dinosaurs come to life!  Our realistic T. rex and Triceratops large-scale puppets capture the imaginations of audiences in performances each week. Thanks to the expertise of NHM's paleontologists and puppeteers, you can experience how these prehistoric animals lived.  Our team of performance artists will guide you back in time to better understand dinosaur anatomy, possible behavior and movement. 

FREE with Museum Admission.
On weekends and holidays, we recommend you arrive early to this popular show.  Most seating is on the floor and is first-come, first-served.

Presentations depict realistic dinosaurs and may be frightening for very small children.  

See a Dinosaur Encounters Stage Show!

Level 2 in the North American Mammal Hall.
Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays 
Times, dates and dinosaur puppets subject to change. Please check the online Museum calendar or at the admissions desk upon arrival.

Learn more about what to expect at a Dinosaur Encounters live performance:



See the Dino Puppets Backstage!

See life-sized juvenile dinosaurs, Hunter the T. rex and Dakota the Triceratops, backstage!
On view everyday in the Discovery Center on the Level 2.


"Hunter" the T. rex 

Hunter is a life-like full body puppet based on the juvenile specimen in the T. rex growth series on view in the new Dinosaur Hall.

Covering Hunter are proto-feathers.  Dinosaurs and birds share a common ancestor, and it has been hypothesized that a juvenile T. rex may have had downy feathers to keep warm. As an apex predator, Hunter is always on the lookout for a good meal. 

"Dakota" the Triceratops

Dakota is a realistic large-scale puppet of a juvenile Triceratops specimen.  She is named after the great state of South Dakota where Triceratops is the state fossil.  

How do the puppets work? How do they move and roar?

Learn more about how our puppeteers operate our Dinosaur Puppets!



Who operates the puppets?

Get to know our Performing Arts staff 

Appearances and Videos

Hunter the T. rex can be seen on the prowl throughout Los Angeles!
He has been spotted at NHM's First Fridays, the L.A. County Fair, the Grove, “Good Morning America," and on the field with the L.A. Galaxy.  

Watch a behind-the-scenes video of how the Dinosaur Encounters program was created. The video features our Dinosaur Institute Director, Dr. Luis Chiappe, our Education staff, and the artists that bring our puppets to life. 

Catch a few clips of him on NBC:
NBC News Channel 4
NBC LA Around Town

Check out Dinosaur Encounters on YouTube. Be sure to post your own encounter!
NHMLA YouTube Channel

Program Accolades

Department of Cultural Affairs, City of Los Angeles
In 2015, DCA awarded the Dinosaur Encounters Program with a grant in recognition of the artistry of combining creative theater with scientific education. This DCA grant will support the Program through June 2017. As our civic cultural agency, DCA serves LA’s residents and tourists by: supporting literary, media, performing, and visual activities by local individuals and organizations that result in free or low-cost access to socially relevant and artistically valuable ideas; managing and co-programming multiple city art centers and theaters; preserving and showcasing two historic sites; commissioning and permitting public art; and co-marketing a full year of heritage months and special projects.

National Endowment for the Arts
In recognition for innovative cross-disciplinary arts programming, our Museum was one of the featured organizations on the NEA's Facebook page for the 2011 National Arts and Humanities month.

American Association of Museums
Dinosaur Encounters was honored to be a part of the American Association of Museum’s 2009 EdCom’s Marketplace of Ideas for exemplifying what makes museum exhibits real, responsive, and reactive for the visitor. Watch how our innovated program was created here. The video features our Dinosaur Institute Director, Dr. Luis Chiappe, our Education staff, and the artists that bring our puppets to life.


 

For Teachers

Our interactive performing arts programs can easily support many of the California Visual and Performing Arts Standards for grades Pre-K through 5, using a combination of theater and kinesthetic lesson plans. Click here for details of how to make the most of your field trip to NHM by being sure to include a stop at Dinosaur Encounters presentation.