In Exposition Park, steel beams are now being assembled for a $75-million expansion project which is envisioned as a new "front porch" for the L.A. County Museum of Natural History.
The $75 million NHM Commons expansion, located on the west side of the museum building adjacent to Bill Robertson Lane, includes approximately 75,000 square feet of new and renovated space. The project will include a new 400-seat theater, replacing the Jean Delacour Auditorium, which will be used for performances, discussions, educational content, and festivals. Additionally, the new Judith Perlstein Welcome Center will house Gnatalie, a skeletal mount composed of multiple specimens belonging to a Diplodocus-like dinosaur which has a distinctive green color. The display is billed as the first real skeletal mount of a long-neck dinosaur on the West Coast. Other sections of the NHM Commons project which will be available to the public include Barbara Carrasco's mural: L.A. History: A Mexican Perspective, a cafe with indoor and outdoor seating, and retail space within the Wallis Annenberg Lobby.
Frederick Fisher & Partners and landscape design by Studio-MLA headline the design team for the project, while new exhibit spaces on the interior will be designed by Studio Joseph. The new construction will eventually have a glass facade overlooking Bill Robertson Way, a stark contrast to the blank walls which previously served as the museum's western face. Additionally, a new plaza is proposed for the exterior of the NHM Commons, providing outdoor gathering space for visitors to Exposition Park and the museum.
Construction of NHM Commons is occurring with input from the museum's Native American Advisory Council, which includes representatives of Southern California indigenous communities such as the Gabrieleno-Tongva, Tataviam, Chumash, and Ajachmem. The Los Angeles Times reported last year that the Advisory Council will work with Studio-MLA on the plaza entry to NHM Commons, with the goal of honoring Native American communities and acknowledging that the City of Los Angeles was built on Native land.
The project, which is on track for completion in 2024, is being supported by a more than the Natural History Museums of Los Angeles County's more than $100-million Opening New Doors Campaign, which has received contributions from the Los Angeles County, the State of California, the Annenberg Foundation, the Ahmanson Foundation, and other philanthropic sources.
That fundraising effort also comes as the Natural History Museums are developing a new master plan for the La Brea Tar Pits and Page Museum, which would revamp the 13-acre park under design work by Weiss/Manfredi.
The Natural History Museum's expansion comes more than two years after officials adopted a new master plan for Exposition Park, which will guide the development of the 160-acre space over the next 25 years. NHM Commons also follows the $1-billion Lucas Museum of Narrative Art, now taking shape across Bill Robertson Lane, and the $400-million Samuel Oschin Air and Space Center, which broke ground last year on the opposite side of the park.
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