You don’t have to be an anthropology major like me to enjoy the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. This world-class museum boasts some of the best collections of dinosaur fossils, precious gemstones, and ceramics from Central and South America anywhere in the world.
The Gem and Mineral Hall catches your eye in a big way with over 2,000 sparkly things, including chunks of Lapis lazuli as big as my head, bulbous globs of hematite, over 300 pounds of gold nuggets and a very rare bright red diamond from South Africa. The amazing mineral structures from all over the world dazzle open-mouthed onlookers case after case with a rainbow of colors and then some.
Giant dinosaur fossils are the biggest eye-catchers of the museum; your head automatically fills in the missing flesh as you gaze at the remains of these amazing beasts, sharp claws and teeth in clear detail. Also of great interest is the ongoing project unearthing a near-complete Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton found in Montana, a find that has to be every paleontologist’s sharpest dream. You can watch the archaeologists work, painstakingly cleaning the enormous fossilized femurs with tiny brushes and new technology.
The African and North American Mammal Halls have breathing room and an epic collection of taxidermied animals, from polar bears to lynx to skunks. Dead animals are always a little creepy but will no doubt be interesting for children of all ages, as is the massive bird collection with a focus on the giant local scavenger, the California condor.
Zuni fetishes and an outstanding exhibit of ceramics from Mayan, Aztec and Incan cultures rounds out the history of the American continents along with a streetcar from the days of gas lamps.
Whether you spend a day at the museum or combine music and drinks with a little learning and make it a night, the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County is a worthy experience and will no doubt contribute to your personal evolution as a student of life. Check it out.