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Major renovations and expansion planned for Exposition Park’s Natural History Museum

The museum could get a new theater and a glassy western entry hall

Rendering of Natural History Museum west wing
Updates to the museum’s western wing would include a glassy entry hall, giving passersby a peek at the exhibits.
Renderings by Frederick Fisher and Partners, courtesy Natural History Museum of Los Angeles

As Exposition Park prepares to welcome major attractions such as the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art and the Banc of California soccer stadium, the park’s venerable Natural History Museum is preparing for a major overhaul.

The project, which is still in the early stages of planning, would rework and expand the museum’s west and south-facing wings. The Jean Delacour Auditorium on the western end of the museum would be replaced with a three-story addition with about 485,000 square feet of exhibition and storage space—an increase of 60,000 square feet.

Designed by architecture firm Frederick Fisher and Partners, the new wing would have a contemporary facade framed around an open entry hall that would face the forthcoming Lucas Museum. A glassy design would allow passersby to see into the museum, and rotating displays would essentially invite Exposition Park visitors to window shop its extensive collection of artifacts.

Meanwhile, the building’s southern entrance would transform “into something more like a front porch,” according to a statement from the museum. A rendering of the project shows steps leading up to the museum flattened out into a descending, landscaped pathway connecting the southern and western sides of the building.

Other key features planned for the update include a new theater and event space, a welcome center, transparent office and gallery spaces, and a rooftop restaurant.

Map of Natural History Museum site plan

The museum, which opened in 1913, has been renovated and expanded several times in its long history. Only four years ago, a reworked north campus opened to the public, featuring a glassy pavilion at the northern entrance similar to the one now planned for the western side of the building.

Frederick Fisher tells the Los Angeles Times that the museum’s new glassy entrance “will have a more delicate personality” than the last one.

Exterior view of Natural History Museum

According to the museum, the big updates are part of a 10-year program to “revitalize” its profile. The plan will eventually include a makeover of the Page Museum at the La Brea Tar Pits, which opened in the 1970s to house the Natural History Museum’s Ice Age artifacts.

Meanwhile, as new developments transform Exposition Park, the park’s caretakers are preparing to update its master plan for the first time since 1993. The Office of Exposition Park Management will announce more details about the new master plan Friday.

Natural History Museum southern entrance