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Tuesday, May 27, 2014

A day at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County

Last week the kids and I headed up to LA for the afternoon to visit the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. It's incredibly educational and experiential, and I feel like an afternoon there was probably worth an entire semester of natural science lessons at school. There is just something so valuable about seeing and experiencing things in person. But I was also very impressed with the architectural beauty of the building. It is clear that someone has paid a lot of attention to detail in making this place both aesthetically and educationally appealing.

As soon as you walk in, there is a grand rotunda with some great dinosaur skeletons. The kids thought this was so cool, and loved pretending that they were being chased. Then, we made our way into the room of African mammals, which depicted vignettes of animals in their natural habitat. It's about as close as we are going to get to an African safari this year, and it really was fun to see these tableaus of different African countries.

Next, we went into the North American mammals room, which is similar but depicts animals from Mexico, that United States, and Canada. Then we made our way into a room with the hugest collection of gems and minerals that I have ever seen. I had no idea that they could be so fascinating, but we spent a long time in that room just looking at the different formations that the earth made possible. This is the room that the kids were actually most excited about. Every second, I had a kid begging me to come look at something that they had discovered. The boys really liked the metals. The girls, of course, preferred the gems that looked like jewels. And I was amazed looking at a side-cut of an actual meteor. I'm looking at something that flew through space and landed here… how crazy is that?

Next, we headed for the main attraction… Dinosaur Hall. This contained the most impressive collection of dinosaur remains I have ever seen. It is all inspiring to see them assembled and looming over us. It almost evokes some existential angst, realizing that these grand creatures once ruled the earth and are now no more. The Dinosaur Hall has assembled skeletal remains, but along the walls are tons of educational opportunities and mixed media presentations about paleontology and history.

After the dinosaurs, we went downstairs to the new Nature Labs feature, where they have a bright, modern room set up for children to do multimedia labs. This was a very hands on the room where they could engage in art and computer games that talk about earth sciences.

We had a really fun time at the museum and I am looking forward to going back.

To learn more, check out Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County on facebook and instagram.

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