Los Angeles, CA (December 1, 2022)—The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County (NHM) announced today it will showcase the 12-ton, 24-foot-tall submersible explorer and filmmaker James Cameron piloted on his 2012 record-breaking, solo dive to the deepest point on Earth.
PRESSURE: James Cameron into the Abyss will take visitors on a journey to the bottom of the Pacific Ocean through a multimedia experience of Cameron's dive. The DEEPSEA CHALLENGER submersible and science platform's innovative technology sheds light on NHM's vast and diverse marine biology collection and active marine science research programs. The 1,700-square-foot pop-up installation will be on public view from December 12, 2022, to February 20, 2023, and is free with general admission and for NHM Members.
PRESSURE celebrates the 10th anniversary of the 2012 DEEPSEA CHALLENGE Expedition and Cameron’s solo journey to the Challenger Deep in the Mariana Trench, the deepest place on the planet. NHM’s display provides insights into the logistics—and challenges—that go into planning and executing an expedition of this size and scope. At nearly seven miles down, water pressure at Challenger Deep is about 1,000 times standard atmospheric pressure at sea level, and temperatures are just a few degrees above freezing. Previously, only two other people had been to the bottom of the Mariana Trench, but Cameron was the first to reach it as a solo pilot. His was also the first crewed dive to film the seafloor and collect specimens at Challenger Deep.
NHM’s display will house the DEEPSEA CHALLENGER inside a specially-built outdoor structure on the Museum’s ground floor. The submersible will be displayed horizontally in a custom-built cradle, allowing visitors to get an up-close look at the unique vessel, which is vertically deployed in the water. Through informational signage and video, visitors will learn about the expedition, what Cameron saw and experienced, the life and death challenges he faced, and the features of the sub that helped him survive the extreme conditions of the deep ocean.
“We are excited to bring James Cameron’s DEEPSEA CHALLENGER to NHM, giving us an opportunity to showcase the science and technology behind this one-of-a-kind vessel. Most people know Cameron as a filmmaker (Avatar, Titanic) but it’s as an explorer, with eight, science-focused deep ocean expeditions to his credit, that we focus on his history and accomplishments, as well as the future of ocean exploration,” says Dr. Lori Bettison-Varga, president and director of the Natural History Museums of Los Angeles County (NHMLAC)."
Bettison-Varga adds, “The Museum is a vital hub for marine science research and is home to rare and amazing marine specimens, from modern-day deep-sea fish to fossils from the ancient ocean. We are fortunate to be able to launch novel installations like this one to better connect our visitors with the natural world and to inspire them to protect and preserve our ocean planet.”
“We’re entering an exciting new age of technically-enabled ocean exploration reliant on a new suite of marine vehicles, advanced imaging systems and other tech that will propel ocean science," James Cameron says. "More than 80% of our oceans are unexplored. There are mysteries to solve, new discoveries to make and critical knowledge to acquire.”
While at the Museum, visitors can also experience NHM’s multimedia-rich exhibition L.A. Underwater, which explores Los Angeles’ prehistoric past when it was submerged under the waves of the Pacific Ocean for over 90 million years. The exhibition features the backstories of nearly 40 locally discovered prehistoric fossils, many of which were found by everyday Angelenos, including plumbers and construction workers. These discoveries have helped NHM scientists understand the topography of the city's past and present.
NHM showcases deep ocean life, past and present, throughout its collections and exhibits in various other locations around the Museum, including a pygmy sperm whale and fossil seal-like animal Allodesmus in Age of Mammals; a skeleton of a fin whale, the second largest animal on Earth, in the Otis Booth Pavilion; marine reptiles and other animals that would have swam through prehistoric seas around the world in the world-class Dinosaur Hall; and extremely rare creatures of the deep – an oarfish, coelacanth, and megamouth shark – each on view around the Museum’s Grand Foyer.
Pressure: James Cameron into the Abyss is organized by the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County and made possible by the Avatar Alliance Foundation, with generous support from Dalio Philanthropies and Rolex. Special thanks to our partners National Geographic, OceanX, and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.
Pressure: James Cameron into the Abyss is free with general admission and for Museum Members. For more information or to buy tickets to the Museum, visit NHM.ORG/pressure.
About the Natural History Museums of Los Angeles County
The Natural History Museums of Los Angeles County (NHMLAC) include the Natural History Museum in Exposition Park, La Brea Tar Pits in Hancock Park, and the William S. Hart Museum in Newhall. They operate under the collective vision to inspire wonder, discovery, and responsibility for our natural and cultural worlds. The museums hold one of the world’s most extensive and valuable collections of natural and cultural history—more than 35 million objects. Using these collections for groundbreaking scientific and historical research, the museums also incorporate them into on- and offsite nature and culture exploration in L.A. neighborhoods, and a slate of community science programs—creating indoor-outdoor visitor experiences that explore the past, present, and future. Visit NHMLAC.ORG for adventure, education, and entertainment opportunities.
The Avatar Alliance Foundation (AAF)
The Avatar Alliance Foundation promotes science-based solutions that advance the availability of clean energy, ensure healthy oceans, protect biodiversity and create sustainable food systems. It recognizes and respects the intelligent guardianship of natural resources by indigenous peoples and supports indigenous rights. The AAF enables advocacy media projects that address climate change and champion nature.
Claire Atkinson, NHMLAC
Sally Marquez, NHMLAC