NHMLAC Announces Summer and Fall Programming for the Natural History Museum and La Brea Tar Pits

Saber-toothed Summer, Summer Nights at the Tar Pits, Spider Pavilion, Dino Fest and more fill the calendar for the upcoming seasons

Los Angeles, CA (July 26, 2023)—The Natural History Museums of Los Angeles County (NHMLAC) announce the slate of summer and fall programming for the Natural History Museum in Exposition Park and La Brea Tar Pits in Hancock Park. These family-friendly events feature a wide range of topics and options available at both locations. In addition, NHMLAC scientists will be spearheading a number of research initiatives and expeditions this year, highlighting the Museums’ ongoing impact and discoveries.  

See below for the currently announced list of programming and events, and stay tuned for future updates with more information and activities.

Natural History Museum 

BUTTERFLY PAVILION — Wonder takes flight at NHM! Walk among beautiful butterflies in our seasonal Butterfly Pavilion. This springtime exhibition features hundreds of butterflies, colorful native plants, and plenty of natural light to help you see these creatures shimmer. Butterfly Pavilion requires a timed ticket and costs $8 in addition to museum admission or is free with membership. More information at nhm.org/butterflies

     Schedule: Now through August 13

     Admission: $8 timed ticket required in addition to museum admission or free with membership

Tickets online at nhm.org

NATURE GARDENS EXPLORATION: BIRDING—  Swing by the Nature Gardens to see which L.A. birds are hanging out each weekend. Other Nature Garden Explorations, such as Bug Netting, Nature Journaling, and Ponding will rotate through over the course of the summer. More information at nhm.org/experience-nhm/nature-gardens

     Schedule: 11 am on weekends, meet near the pond in the Nature Gardens

L.A. AT PLAY: Dolls & Figurines (Ongoing Web Series) — This online series is an exploration of creators and collectors of figurines and dolls that connect to L.A. history, culture, and fandoms. Fun, imaginative play—that is what many of us think of when we reflect on childhood memories of our favorite figurines, dolls, or toys. These objects range from collectible action figures to play dolls, and even creatures or monsters created for the silver screen. Dolls and figurines have captured our imagination and are collected by adults and children for their beauty, nostalgic value, financial value, or historical importance—and they transcend generations. More information at nhm.org/LAatPlay

     Schedule: Continues through December 2023.

2022 BENJAMIN MKAPA AFRICAN WILDLIFE PHOTOGRAPHY AWARDS GALLERY — In partnership with the African Wildlife Foundation and Nature’s Best Photography, NHM presents the West Coast premiere of an exhibition of photos and videos from the 2022 Benjamin Mkapa African Wildlife Photography Awards. This exclusive exhibit is included in the price of NHM admission or membership. More information at nhm.org/african-photography
Now through October 9

SPIDER PAVILION — This one-of-a-kind seasonal pavilion gives you a rare glimpse into the secret life of spiders. Stroll through to see hundreds of orb weavers and their amazing webs all around you, and then enter the den to peer into enclosed habitats housing species ranging from tarantulas to jumping spiders. More information at nhm.org/spiders

     Schedule: September 17 through November 26
     Admission: $8 timed ticket required in addition to museum admission or free with membership

DINO FEST — Join us for a festival celebrating dinosaurs, their prehistoric past, and the science that brings their world back to life. Meet world-renowned paleontologists from NHM's Dinosaur Institute and beyond as they discuss the way prehistoric animals lived and how fossils give us clues for ancient life. More information at nhm.org/dinofest 

     Schedule: September 24 

SPECIAL GEM EXHIBITION — A brand new special exhibition is being planned in NHM’s iconic gem vault beginning mid-November 2023. Details TK. 

     Adult — $18.00
     Senior (62+) — $14.00
     Student — $14.00
     Children (3 – 12) — $7.00

Unless otherwise noted, all events are included in the price of admission or free for members.

Admission is always free for NHMLAC Members, California PreK–12 teachers with ID, Active or retired United States military with ID, CA EBT cardholders with ID, USC Students and Faculty with ID, and Children 2 and under. Additionally, L.A. County residents receive free Museum Admission 3–5 pm Monday through Friday.

La Brea Tar Pits 

SABER-TOOTHED SUMMER — Sink your claws into everything saber-toothed cat with new scientific discoveries, self-guided tours, live stage shows, and so much more! More information at tarpits.org/saber-toothed-summer

   Schedule: Now through September 4

SUMMER NIGHTS — Chill out Ice Age style at Summer Nights at the Tar Pits. Grab a drink from the Tar Bar while you relax, listen to live DJ sets and picnic in the park. Explore the museum, talk with scientists and experts about discoveries, catch an appearance from our Performing Arts puppets, or drop in on an activity. Free with RSVP.

     Schedule: July 28 & August 4

EXCAVATOR TOUR — The Excavator Tour explores the Fossil Lab where real paleontologists work, our historic excavation sites and Project 23, where live excavations can be seen. More information about excavations at tarpits.org/experience-tar-pits/excavations

     Summer Schedule: 10:30 am and 1 pm, daily

     Fall Schedule (Begins Sept. 5): 1 pm on weekdays; 10:30 am & 1 pm on weekends

DISCOVERIES FROM THE TAR PITS — Drop by to learn some of the lesser-known stories of the Tar Pits, including active research and recent discoveries. Topics change daily.

     Schedule: 3:30 pm, daily

     Adult — $15.00
     Senior (62+) — $12.00
     Student — $12.00
     Children (3 – 12) — $7.00

Unless otherwise noted, all events are included in the price of admission or free for members.

Admission is always free for NHMLAC Members, California PreK–12 teachers with ID, Active or retired United States military with ID, CA EBT cardholders with ID, USC Students and Faculty with ID, and Children 2 and under. Additionally, L.A. County residents receive free Museum Admission 3–5 pm Monday through Friday.

Community Science Volunteer Opportunities

BAT ROOST COUNT — Sign up for a nocturnal natural history adventure. On August 12 and 13, NHMLAC community scientists will conduct bat roost counts along the L.A. and San Gabriel Rivers as well as other locations. This evening urban adventure gives biologists, policymakers, and activists important information about bat populations and activity in the city. While community scientists count, researchers take readings of the ultrasonic calls happening outside our human range of hearing using bat detectors. These devices record their calls which are later matched up to species, giving even more crucial information. Bat Roost Count

LA BIOBLITZ CHALLENGE—The #LABioBlitz Challenge, between October 1 and 31, uses the iNaturalist community science platform to photograph, record, and map the biodiversity (i.e., wild plants, animals, and insects) around homes, neighborhoods, parks, on hiking trails and other natural areas in L.A. City. These observation photos and sound recordings will be important data to support the City’s biodiversity research and efforts to conserve wildlife and protect their habitats in our communities. The Challenge, designed for all ages, is a partnership between Los Angeles Public Library’s Neighborhood Science Initiative and Los Angeles Sanitation and Environment’s Biodiversity Program, and NHMLAC Community Science Program. For more information, visit LA BioBlitz Challenge | Los Angeles Public Library

PROJECT PHOENIX: INVESTIGATING BIRD RESPONSES TO SMOKE — This inaugural bird community science project will ask participants to monitor bird activity for ten minutes a week in an effort to understand how wildfire smoke is impacting birds. While the health effects of smoke inhalation in humans have been well-documented, we do not know how our increasingly intense and frequent smoke events are affecting birds, and this new project seeks to fill the gaps in our knowledge and help protect these beloved animals. Project Phoenix

STATE PARK INSECT COLLECTIONS — Austin Baker will visit state parks across California, collecting insect specimens for his work barcoding every insect species in the state for the CIBI program.

UNDERSTANDING NATURE AND LOS ANGELES BIODIVERSITY (UNLAB) — This mentorship program centered on equity in the sciences welcomes its first 8 mentees in early July. Part of the NSF RAMP program, the UNLAB program is for post-baccalaureates who did not have an opportunity to conduct research during their undergraduate degree program, with a focus on those who have been historically excluded and are underrepresented in the natural sciences. Mentors from NHM and La Brea Tar Pits will guide mentees through research projects exploring the history of Los Angeles biodiversity or the impact of humans and urbanization on Los Angeles biodiversity. Mentees will also participate in professional development activities and have opportunities to learn more about museum careers.

Upcoming Research Initiatives

DINOSAUR INSTITUTE SUMMER INTERNSHIP IN FOSSIL CONSERVATION— The Dinosaur Institute welcomed Ayomidipupo Fadaka from Howard University and Libby Konjoyan from the University of Chicago from June to July 28. The goals of the program are to develop workforce-related skills in fossil conservation and broad experience in museum collections care, utilizing an approach that follows the “life of a fossil” through collection, preparation/conservation, documentation, and curation.

FIELDWORK IN UTAH—Luis Chiappe, Senior VP, Research & Collections and Gretchen Augustyn Director and Curator, Dinosaur Institute, launches the 2023 Utah Field Expedition to excavate dinosaur fossils in the desert, July 12–23 and July 27–August 8

FIELDWORK IN GHOST RANCH, NEW MEXICO — Dinosaur Institute Curator Nathan Smith and crew will be in Ghost Ranch, New Mexico during the first two weeks of August, collecting Late Triassic vertebrates (including early dinosaurs) from the Hayden Quarry.

Media Contacts:
Amy Hood

Josh Chesler