The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County (NHM) recently hosted an advanced preview of its 3½-acre North Campus. The long-awaited urban nature experience that will serve as a new front yard for the Museum has transformed the 99 year old institution into a renewed living laboratory. The hardscape transformation from asphalt and parking lot into live breathing nature simply injects a fresh vibrant energy into the very heart of Los Angeles and is the first publicly funded interactive outdoor exhibition of it’s kind.
Museum President and Director, Jane Pisano says that the objective was always clear, “we wanted to turn the institution inside out.” Now completely planted, the carefully selected landscape designed by Mia Lehrer & Associates, takes root for the full opening and centennial celebration that will take place in June 2013. Mia Lehrer lectures internationally on landscape, architecture and sustainability. She describes the environment as “performative” landscape, selected and planted to enhance and foster biodiversity and a rich relationship to fauna.
Aside from a unique vertical design that incorporates gorgeous Echevaria Glauca and Blue Sky succulents into it’s facade, the The Living Wall of dry stacked, decomposed granite pathways, is permeable along with the seasonal stream and is an ideal host to insects and animals. Reclaimed lumber from a fire-damaged county building was used for the construction of the raised beds and benches and leftover roof tiles were repurposed as garden curbing.
The museum’s educational programming has been increased by 50 percent and aims to inspire the quarter of a million students who visit per year, to better understand the world around them. Nature Lab, Citizen Science and the Lost Ladybug Project enter a new dimension of programming where plants, insects and animals can be interpreted in a living context. Camera traps monitor and inventory the animal life. The Home Garden classes are a real sign of the times, teaching visitors and school groups how to plant their own gardens.
The edible garden is one of major delights that could produce international gourmet feasts and salads with ingredients like Rainbow Beets, Japanese Cucumbers, Radicchio and Lipstick Chard. Any real garden foodie could appreciate and respect the exotic palette. Herbs like Calendula, Marjoram and Bishops Crown Chile could cure common ailments or even rejuvenate skin cells.
The North Campus (located just across the street from the University of Southern California), is the first outdoor expression of the museum’s master plan, and historic transformation of public spaces and visitor experiences leading up to the centennial. Inside, the metamorphosis has included renovations and seismic retrofitting to the 1913 Building (the Museum’s original home) and the adjacent 1920s Building, the development of five new permanent exhibitions, a new traveling exhibit gallery, and a slate of new visitor amenities. Pisano describes the innovations as a dramatic new way to apply the mission, and ”to inspire wonder, discovery, and responsibility for our natural and cultural worlds.”
The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County
900 Exposition Boulevard
Los Angeles – Inglewood