NHMLA to Show Green Dinosaur and Censored Mural

Renderings by Frederick Fisher and Partners, Studio MLA, and Studio Joseph. Courtesy NHMLA

The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County has supplied new renderings of its "NHM Commons" entrance wing, designed by Frederick Fisher and Partners. The opening date has been moved up a year, to 2024. Assuming the dates hold, that would still put it a year ahead of the neighboring Lucas Museum of Narrative Art (set to open 2025) and LACMA's David Geffen Galleries (construction to be completed by "late 2024," which probably means a 2025 opening).

NHMLA's Judith Perlstein Welcome Center, to be open to the public without a ticket, will have a green dinosaur, the only Diplodocus skeleton on the West Coast. The color is due to fossilization minerals. Discovered in Utah, the 70-foot-long dinosaur will be the second-largest object in the hall. It will face Barbara Carrasco's 80-foot-long mural, L.A. History: A Mexican Perspective.

Barbara Carrasco, L.A. History: A Mexican Perspective (small detail), 1981
The Los Angeles Community Redevelopment Agency commissioned the mural for the city's 1981 bicentennial. But the agency objected to Carrasco's inclusion of the darker side of the L.A. story: the Zoot Suit riots, the internment of Japanese-Americans, and the white-washing of David Alfaro Siqueiros' mural América Tropical. Ironically, Carrasco's mural suffered a similar fate. The city refused to show it, and it went into storage, unseen for decades. NHMLA purchased it a few years ago.

Detail representing the World War II incarceration of Japanese-Americans

Detail showing the people of 1980s Los Angeles, including Mayor Tom Bradley, Fernando Valenzuela, Ricardo Montalban, and Rick James. How many can you name?


Anonymous said…
The Diplodocus fossil and the Barbara Carrasco mural are bother better viewed from afar so the viewer can grasp the monumental scale of both objects. I have no idea why the NHMLA decided to put both objects opposite each other in that narrow hall.
Anonymous said…
To anonymous above - because this is the only space they have. 🤔
Anonymous said…
Maybe they should’ve found a way to reconfigure space so that the objects are viewed from their best angles
The perspective in digital renderings can be deceptive. The user can choose a (virtual) wide-angle or telephoto perspective or anything in between. The rendering doesn't have all the visual clues that help in interpreting a camera photograph of a real space. This is especially true when the human figures are just collaged in, as it looks like they are here.

I hope the Welcome Center is not a narrow passageway where you can't step back and appreciate the scale… but I wouldn't prejudge it from these images.
Regardless of the width of the corridor, the rendering makes it clear that there's no way to fully examine the reverse side of Diplodocus. As is done with Baroque and Renaissance sculpture, the museum should have made the fossil viewable "in the round."
Anonymous said…
^^^Why would that be necessary or insightful with a dinosaur like this?

There's not much dimension to it --- a single vertabra constitutes much of its body. As with most skeletons, it is also symmetric.
Re: Why would that be necessary or insightful?

I would say because we don't see such beautiful creatures as these every day, and if you can walk about it, it gives a greater sense of wonder. As is, they've unnecessarily fashioned a bas-relief.
Anonymous said…
The display methods for fossils are NOT necessarily the same as the display methods for art.

A fossil is not a sculpture in the round. When it was discovered (in the ground), the fossil was in effect a bas-relief (a mold or cast in rock).

Thus, presenting it this way appropriately engages the scientific imagination.
Re "...NOT necessarily...": Perhaps, but luckily for us, the Museum of Natural History and the Field Museum DO show their treasures in the round.