Los Angeles: Five Centuries, One City, and a Mega New Exhibit

Becoming LA, a new Natural History Museum exhibit, considers our city's stories.

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Becoming LA
    City Hall is seen in a WPA model. Architecture is one aspect to Becoming LA, a new and permanent exhibit debuting at the Natural History Museum on Sunday, July 14.

    We all love certain towns, big and small, and we've all been called upon, at some point, to give a new visitor a sneak peek, ahead of time, of a place we know well.

    Some burgs have the same starting point, story-wise -- maybe an epic Main Street march or famous landmark -- but where or when or what do most Angelenos start with when they start to tell the story of Los Angeles?

    Do locals go back to our earliest beginnings and the tar pits? Do they start with the founding of El Pueblo? Maybe the movies? Or is the landscape a good entrance into the conversation, the beaches and the canyons and the desert?

    There are probably a million ways to accurately tell the story of our multi-prism'd city, and Becoming LA, which opens on Sunday, July 14, is all about that story. The Natural History Museum's newest permanent exhibit will offer many angles, views, and fresh looks upon the millions of tales that have existed and exist today in the place we call home.

    The exhibit will focus on five centuries. And, spoiler alert: five centuries can hold a lot, in human terms. The show may be around for another five centuries to come, too: It will fill the Exposition Park institution's largest exhibition hall -- it's a capacious 14,000 square feet -- forever (well, that's what permanent means to us, anyway).

    And what will Angelenos and out-of-towners who want to know more about this glittering, complicated, wonderful, often challenging, heavily mythologized, and infinitely interesting megalopolis find within? Historic artifacts recalling the people who lived in this region a half-millennium ago, as well as the age of the rancheros and all of those captains of industry that came west for the sunshine and citrus. The Gold Rush, plagues, railroads, and pretty much anything that impacted the becoming of LA will be featured as well.

    Yep, the movie business gets its exhibit moment. But everyday life does, too. Expect to explore a few new nooks and crannies of our city's history that you haven't delved into before, even if you're a longtime local with a deep connection to all things LA.

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