- By Cynthia Lum
- Photo By Deniz Durmas
The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County (NHMLA) has reopened their extraordinary permanent exhibition Becoming Los Angeles with an expanded section on Indigenous Angelinos, fresh objects from NHMLA’s history and anthropology/archaeology collection and newly commissioned works by local artists. The groundbreaking exhibition, which originally opened in 2013, takes visitors on a tour through the city’s five centuries of development from a small pueblo to a booming metropolis. This fascinating history of our city weaves Los Angeles’ natural and cultural developments into a single narrative to show how people’s actions have a direct impact on their environment and how the environment has impacted their actions, and explores the rich history not only of Los Angeles but the groups of people that have made the city their home.
From the opening section, First Angelinos which provides glimpses into the lives of Indigenous Angelinos before the arrival of Spanish Colonial settlers to its closing section with the spectacular newly commissioned Ofrenda by master alter maker Ofelia Esparza, and her daughter artist Rosanna Esparza Ahrens, Becoming Los Angeles is a treasure trove of rarely seen objects and information. There is a visibly used saddle and riata lasso that would have been used by a Mexican vaquero (cowboy) more than 150 years ago and a red tutu from World War ll’s favorite pinup girl, Betty Grable from the 1945 movie Diamond Horseshoe. This is an exciting, unique and interesting history lesson that’s much more fun than reading it in a book.
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