Thursday, July 17, 2014

La Brea Tar Pits

Yesterday we visited the La Brea Tar Pits and Page Museum, located at 5801 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles. It's open 9:30 a.m. - 5 p.m. most days of the year.

Statue at the entrance to the Page Museum.

The Tar Pits are part of “Museum Row,” a section of LA that houses four major museums. In fact, it’s right next door to the LA County Museum of Art. The area is easily accessible via several freeways and by public transit. The cost for the Tar Pits is $12 for adults. A parking lot is available at the corner of Curson Ave. & 6th St. for a flat fee of $9.00. There is also on-street, metered parking available, which would be cheaper as meters typically cost $1/hour. As the museum’s website warns, however, pay attention to the parking signs; in LA, just because it’s a metered spot doesn’t mean it’s okay to park there all the time.

The Pits are part of the lovely little Hancock Park. The park is open to the street, so you can peruse it, and some of the pits, without paying an entrance fee. The fee is for the museum and for viewing the Observation Pit.

Inside the museum, you’ll see lots and lots of fossils.

Harland's Ground Sloth.

Antique Bison.

Dragonflies! Apparently a very rare fossil to find.

Giant Wooly Mammoth.

There are also fossilized bones that you can touch, and a tar pull so you can see how hard it would be to pull yourself out of a tar pit if you happen to stumble into one.

Wall of dire wolf skulls.

However, the big point of the museum is education. There is a video that explains how the tar pits formed, and how the animals became trapped in them (I didn’t watch the other video available, which is a behind-the-scenes look at the research program). There are also displays that explain how the pits were discovered & how the museum was founded. Additionally, they have a “fishbowl lab,” where you can watch workers as they sort through “matrix” for and clean fossils. There’s a nice little atrium as well:

Waterfall in the Atrium.

One thing you shouldn’t miss is the large timeline wall. I nearly walked past it but fortunately my husband got sucked in and I started following him. The timeline wall tells you what animals existed in California at what time, and when they went extinct. I didn’t take any pictures of it, even though it was one of my favorite parts of the museum.

The Pits are outside in the park. Here is the Lake Pit:

Dramatization. Page Museum in the background.

Long view of the lake. LACMA in background.

And at Pit 91 they’re actively doing excavation work:

Excavators at work.

Uncovered fossil.

There is also the Observation Pit, but you can only get in if you take part in the Excavation Tour. The tour is free with your admission to the museum. We were supposed to go on the tour but my husband’s chronic foot problem was bothering him so we skipped it. I was disappointed not to see the Observation Pit.

The museum is definitely on the older side and could perhaps use an influx of mad cash for an update. However, I still really enjoyed it and wish we would have gone on the tour. If you’re visiting LA and aren’t keen on hitting up the museum, I advise that you at least swing by the park so you can see the pits that are open to the public. They’re really cool.


Patricia said...

I am most intrigued by being able to see how hard it would be to get out of the tar pits.

That is an awesome picture of a Giant Wooly Mammoth.

balyien said...

Why thank you!

The tar pull was really interesting. I pulled up on one & it came up really easy & I was like, "Well, this isn't so bad!" Then I tried to pull up the one right next to it & it barely budged. Dan was laughing at me until he tried it and could barely move it either.