Austere and hallowed institutions have developed a reputation over the decades. All the good stuff? Inside. All the historical artifacts? Inside. Where do I need to go to see things that will make me smarter? Inside.
There has been a positive movement in recent years toward developing a museum's exterior beyond a proper rolling lawn bordered by proper flowers and a proper colonnade. The outside is starting to reflect and enhance what visitors will find in an institution's interior.
The new North Campus at the Natural History Museum will be one such verdant, visionary spot. And while it is set to fully open in June 2013, in time for the Exposition Park-based museum's centennial, visitors can enjoy a small portion of it now.
The garden-like campus will be three-and-a-half acres when completed, which essentially adds another 50% of "programming space" onto the museum. Gardening how-tos, nature walks, and hands-in-the-dirt sessions will all take place where cars used to park atop hot asphalt.
In short? It's not only a place for peaceful rumination, but a spot for learning as well.
Many of the materials used in the North Campus will be reused and reclaimed items, such as "(r)eclaimed lumber from a fire-damaged County building"; that lumber is going into raised beds and benches. Funding is coming from a variety of donors, plus the County of Los Angeles and the California Department of Parks and Recreation Nature Education Facilities Program, in part.
Perhaps most exciting for many? The two new MetroLink Expo Line stops on the east and west sides of the campus.
June 2013 can't come fast enough for people longing for an "urban nature experience" where asphalt and sidewalks once dominated. But stop by and check out the portion of the garden that opened only days ago to the public.