Sunday, June 24, 2018

Field Trip to the Museum of Natural History

This week, Charles took a week off for vacation.  This gave us the perfect opportunity to load up the car and head to Los Angeles and take advantage of our Family Membership to the Museum of Natural History.  I had picked up the membership in back in March as a deal on Groupon for less than it would have cost to take the family for a day but we hadn't had the opportunity to visit yet.

The very first thing we saw when we entered the museum was the skeleton of a very large, 63 foot long  fin whale suspended over our heads.  This really helped to set the mood for what we were going to spend the day seeing, as a large majority of the days collections were going to be skeletons of various creatures. 

Center display of two dinosaurs at the entrance of the museum. 

We arrived at the museum at about 1130 and had tickets for the special butterfly exhibit for noon. The tickets asked for us to arrive roughly 10-15 minutes before then, so we went straight to the exhibit.  We had about a 15 minute wait, which was fine by us as it allowed everyone to calm down and regroup after dealing with some very crazy LA traffic. lol

Ashleigh had been looking forward to the butterfly exhibit since she found out in March that they would have it (Garrett is more excited about the upcoming Spider exhibit that will replace it in Sept). She was so excited, she even wore a butterfly shirt. 

Once we were given the rules to the butterfly house (watch where you step, the butterflies can touch you but you cannot touch the butterflies, no touching the eggs, chrysalis or plants) we headed inside. There were over 25 different species of butterflies in the exhibit, all free roaming.  Our tickets allowed for us to have 30 minutes to walk around the exhibit but we were still able to see plenty of beautiful butterflies.  However, I could have easily enjoyed spending much longer inside.

Garrett even had a hitchhiker when a Buckeye landed on him and rested for a few minutes.  

I thought this White Peacock butterfly was so beautiful with the light illuminating it's wings.  From underneath it looked like stained glass.  Very Pretty. 

We hadn't seen many of the butterflies that are in the exhibit.  Thankfully they provided an identification guide to help figure out what was what.  We managed to locate almost all of the different varieties but did not locate the Malachite (bright green) butterflies.  They did tell us that some of the varieties weren't yet available as the eggs hadn't hatched yet, so maybe they will be viewable next time we go. 

After all the beautiful butterflies, we headed inside to enter the Dino Hall.

I think the smile on Ashleigh's face says it all.  I think almost all kids like dinosaurs.

 After the Dino Hall, we headed to the Mammal Room.  Much like the Dino Hall, this was a room of various skeletal remains of mammals from prehistoric times to present.

Cheetah running
Skeleton of cheetah running
 We were all very amazed to see how many animals have changed in size, as one particular part of the exhibit showed a horse and a dog and the dog was almost as big as the horse. 

Dog verse horse

Ashleigh was thrilled to find a skeleton of a Sabre Tooth Cat, which is one of her favorite prehistoric animals.

And Dad was pretty impressed with the size of the now extinct Ground Sloth. 

Garrett thought the Mammoth was pretty cool.. I have to agree.

We knew we would not be able to even to view all the exhibits at the museum this time (hence, why we knew buying a membership would be well worth the expense) but we did want to go check out the Bird Hall.  Ashleigh didn't like this part of the exhibit that much, as she didn't like that it was dead birds.   But, like I explained to her, it allows for people to see various birds that they would never see alive and most likely, many of these birds died of natural causes in zoos or aviaries. (It sounded good at least.. lol)

Garrett really liked the various drawers that he could pull out and look at things like eggs, wing structures, ect.   

This is the Aztec artifact exhibit. I didn't get to look at it yet (next time) but I thought it was so cool. 

We decided to head outdoors and warm up a bit, as it was kind of chilly inside the museum.  The manicured gardens outside the museum are amazing, designed to attract various birds, bugs, bats and other wildlife in the area.   There's also a garden of various edible plants.  All of the area was so beautiful.  We ended up buying a nice picnic basket so from now on, when we visit, we can bring a picnic lunch with us to sit in these gardens on future trips.

Garrett watching birds at one of the feeding stations.

The California Science Center is right next door to the Museum.  That's the External Fuel Tank from the Space Shuttle, not what you typically see in a garden ;)    That is actually the only external tank left, as all others burned up in our atmosphere and the space shuttle program is no longer.  The space shuttle Endeavor is located in that white building beside the tank.   I did find it interesting that you get a better look at the tank from the Museum than you do from visiting the Science Center.

Garrett made a friend while we were walking through the Edible Garden.  This fat squirrel was enjoying munching on strawberries. 

While still part of the museum property (but is part of the public park and does not require admission to the museum to enjoy), there is a beautiful rose garden with this nice fountain that is beside the other gardens (that require museum admission). With lots of shade trees, soft green grass, and beautiful smelling roses, it turned out to be a really nice place to pull up a piece of shade, lay back and relax.

Heading back inside, we went down to the ground level to check out the Nature Lab.  This was a really cool exhibit that had live (and stuffed) exhibits of various animals.  We knew that we had to visit that exhibit in particular because they had rats, Ashleigh's favorites.  The fact they were there was a huge surprise for her as we didn't tell her ahead of time.

Ashleigh spent a good 10 minutes talking to the worker who takes care of the rats. The worker even commented that Ashleigh knew more about rats then she did.. lol

A VERY much alive Pacific Rattle Snake climbing up the rocks to say hello.

And a VERY much alive tarantula of some sort (I didn't stick around long enough to find out what type).. 

A stuffed puma.  However, the museum does have an exhibit dedicated to P- 22, a male mountain lion who lives in Griffith Park.  Los Angeles has a number of mountain lions who live in the area.

It was time for us to head out.  The kids each got to pick something small from the gift store and we headed home. We will definitely be returning for another visit in the near future.   In addition to admission to the Museum of Natural History, our family pass also gives us admission to the La Brae Tar Pits and the museum there as well as the William S. Hart museum.  We are hoping to visit all three of these museums multiple times over the course of the year (and will most likely continue to keep this membership as long as we are in California).

Remember the two dinosaurs that are the centerpiece at the entry of the museum? Here they are again, directly outside the museum. 

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