California Museums

Second Home Pavilion: Explore the rainbow tunnels of this immersive, temporary structure where art and science meet. Open summer through fall 2019.

La Brea Tar Pits & Museum, L.A.

5801 Wilshire Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90036
$15 approx.,

La Brea Tar Pits are the only active urban fossil dig site in the world. Right in the heart of L.A. sits the world’s most powerful gateway to the Ice Age— more than 100 excavations have been made.

Staff and volunteers dig fossils out from asphalt at outdoor dig sites while visitors see the processes of paleontology unfold before their eyes. Inside the museum teams work in a see-through Fossil Lab.

The Tar Pits provide an incredibly complete record of the different plants and animals that have lived in the L.A. Basin between 50,000 years ago and today.

Researching give clues about past and present climate change as guests see exhibits of huge, extinct mammals: 

  • saber-toothed cats
  • dire wolves
  • mammoths
  • microfossils

Plants and animals from the last 50,000 years are discovered here every day. Outside, you can watch excavators carve fossils out of the asphalt. Inside the museum, the staff prepares these discoveries in the see-through Fossil Lab. Visitors get to exhibitions such as extraordinary saber-toothed cats, mammoths, dire wolves, and mastodons, as well as the tiny, but scientifically significant, microfossils of insects, plants, mammals, and reptiles.

Observation Pit

As the first museum in Hancock Park, the Observation Pit opened in 1952

Architect Harry Sims Bent was known for the L.A. Central Library and L.A. County Arboretum. Built over Pit 101, it was designed to give guests the experience of entering a fossil pit. Looking down you will see a mix of real fossils and casts of fossils that have be staged to show you how our excavators find specimens beneath the park’s surface. On June 28, 2014 the Observation Pit was reopened to the public, after being closed since the mid-1990s.

The Tar Pits help people understand life around Wilshire Boulevard long before we got here, and what lies ahead as climate and habitats continue to change.

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