History museum

Natural History Museum to borrow $22 million for expansion project

Long after groundbreaking ceremonies were canceled due to COVID-19 and another scandal involving a local elected official, an expansion of the natural history museum at the fairgrounds receives a boost following a vote by the Los Angeles City Council.

“In the Judith Perlstein Visitor Center, no ticket is required to begin discovery. It is designed to help guests discover ways to explore the museum’s collections, ongoing research, events and amenities.”Natural History Museums of Los Angeles County

The Los Angeles City Council yesterday voted to pass a motion brought forward by 9th District Council Member Curren Price that will allow the museum to borrow up to $22.5 million to fund the design and construction from the NHM Commons project. No city funds are offered for the project, which is owned by Los Angeles County.

NHM Commons, first announced in 2017, calls for remodeling the west side of the museum, just south of the intersection of Bill Robertson Lane and Exposition Boulevard. Plans call for adding approximately 22,000 square feet of new construction, replacing the Jean Delacour Auditorium, while renovating approximately 53,000 square feet of the original 1920s building.

“For more than a decade, we’ve been transforming Museum spaces and grounds, but we’re only just beginning to reimagine who we are when it comes to community,” said Dr. Lori Bettison-Varga, President and Director of Museums at natural history of Los Angeles County in a statement posted on the project’s website. “I’m so excited to work with partners who are in a unique position to bring new insights to us and through us – creative new programming that encompasses Los Angeles and galvanizes our community.”

Described as a new “porch” for the museum, the project will include a new visitor center with natural lighting, retail space, a multipurpose theatre, café and community plaza.


Interior of NHM CommonsNatural History Museums of Los Angeles County

Frederick Fisher and Partners is designing the NHM Commons project, which is expected to open in fall 2023, according to its website.

The renovation of the Natural History Museum comes just two years after the authorities adopted a new master plan for the exhibition center, which will guide the development of the 160-acre space over the next 25 years. Other projects in the park include the $350 million Banc of California stadium and the $315 million renovation of the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseumas good as Billion Dollar Lucas Museum of Narrative Art now standing opposite NHM Commons.