North American Mammal Hall | Natural History Museum of Los Angeles

The state-of-the-art dioramas in our North American Mammal Halls are breathtakingly realistic. Many of the dioramas were first created in the 1930s, but we’ve created new ones since then. Can you tell which are the newest displays?

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The Making of a Diorama

The Habitat Views video considers ways of looking at dioramas today, and documents the creation of several new displays. Take a look over on our  YouTube channel >

VIP Sleepover on March 6, 2010

When our visitors have left for the day, the Fellows are invited to play. Fellows will have the rare opportunity to sleep in our enchanting diorama halls, complete with the VIP treatment. Learn more >

Recreating Nature Indoors

Ever wonder who made the dioramas in our mammal halls? Read all about the artists who created these wonderful scenes. Learn more >

Map of the Museum

The Art of Taxidermy. Yes, Art.

There are not many art forms more misunderstood than taxidermy. Perhaps the greatest misperception is its basic technique. Museum taxidermist Tim Bovard sculpts over an animal’s skeleton with clay, and from a mold of that clay sculpture, makes a lightweight mannequin (urethane foam today; burlap, plaster and papier-mâché in decades past), which he then pulls the skin over. It takes a sculptor's hands, and an expert eye for animal anatomy.

 

North American Mammal Halls

Are you brave enough to march right up to a Polar bear? Not many of us are. And we rarely get an opportunity to do so even at the zoo. Our North American Mammal halls allow you to study in detail dozens of magnificent and fascinating creatures.

Rare Animals, Original Environments

The hall’s habitat dioramas, among the finest in the world, recreate the realistic natural environments in which these animals were found over 75 years ago. Showcasing a range of habitats  from desert to rainforest, these thorough recreations include the trees, plants and birds that lived alongside the featured animals. Sadly, due to human encroachment, many of these animals are extremely rare and their original environments no longer exist.

Artful Dioramas

Make sure you take note of the exquisite backdrop paintings that add drama and a sense of place to the dioramas. Created by prominent artists such as Charles Abel Corwin, Hanson Duvall Puthuff, Duncan Alanson Spencer, Florence MacKenzie and Frank J. MacKenzie, and Robert Reid; the backdrops themselves are considered noteworthy pieces of fine art. 


Curators' Favorites

Bison

Bison bison

Vast herds of up to 90 million bison once roamed the Great Plains of North America, but by 1900 their numbers had been decimated to barely 1,000 individuals. It is estimated that there are currently more than 500,000 bison in North America, with the vast majority of those belonging to privately owned herds.

Moose

Alces alces

The moose is the largest member of the deer family. Males have the largest antlers of any living mammal in the world and they are shed and regrown every year. Moose live in the northern forests of North America, Europe and Russia

Polar bear

Ursus maritimus

Living on the ice-covered waters of the circumpolar Arctic, polar bears are supremely adapted to one of the harshest environments on earth. Even so, their existence is threatened by the increasing global temperatures that cause later formation and earlier melting of the seasonal ice. Did you know: Hidden below their beautiful white fur is black skin.

Pronghorn

Antilocapra americana

One hundred years ago pronghorns were on the verge of extinction. Conservation efforts have brought their population up to more than one million individuals. Although they no longer inhabit the area, thousands of pronghorns once roamed the Antelope Valley of northeastern Los Angeles County. Pronghorns are known for their speed and have been clocked at more than 50 mph.

Jaguar

Panthera onca

Our newest diorama is one of our most dynamic, showing a magnificent jaguar in action. Jaguars are the largest cats in the Americas. Until recently they were thought to have been eradicated from the desert scrub of the southwestern USA, the habitat depicted here. Based on several sightings over the past decade, conservation biologists believe as many as 6 jaguars currently live in Arizona just north of the Mexican border. Jaguars are excellent swimmers and normally hunt large prey like peccaries and tapirs, but their varied diet may include monkeys, birds, rodents, turtles and fish.