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A vast number of dire wolf skulls have been recovered here.
Photo Credit: guyonthego

Page Museum at the La Brea Tar Pits

5801 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90036
open 9:30am-5:00pm
213-763-3499 2 hours
January 2014 All year
$10-29 Los Angeles California
Website Educational Science Museums
First review
The Page Museum and La Brea Tar Pits are both a science museum and archeological site located in 27 acre Hancock Park in downtown Los Angeles. The excavations and displays pertain mainly to ancient mammal bones recovered from asphalt formations which formed here from 10,000-50,000 years ago. Well preserved bones displayed at the museum include those from mammoths, saber-tooth cats and giant sloths. The museum also has two short films, an open atrium with bamboo and koi fish, a paleontological research area and a gift shop. Nearby ponds and tar pits have some interpretive information as well and models of ancient mammals.

Asphalt is a type of petroleum found in the Los Angeles area. It can be very sticky and deceptively nonthreatening if water or debris forms over it. Many animals became stuck in asphalt deposits over time and once immobilized typically suffered slow deaths. Predators and scavengers might find a helpless animal stuck in the asphalt and would often became stuck as well when attempting to feed on it. The properties of the asphalt also preserved the animal bones such that the asphalt deposits became huge repositories. Archeological excavation began here in the early 1900s. Additional bone recoveries were made when the Page Museum was constructed in 1977 and in 2006 when a parking garage was built.

The museum and tar pits were initially not crowded on a Saturday morning but became more so later on. Checking out the two short overview films at the museum prior to viewing the exhibits will enhance your experience. While the bones and models of animals at the museum are very impressive, exhibit information is limited. A free museum tour was taken but turned out to be uninformative and unnecessary. Also, the Ice Age Encounter Show with a life sized puppet of a saber tooth cat was silly but may have some appeal for younger kids. Walking around the tar pits was interesting, especially a viewing station which overlooks an active dig. The Page Museum is next to the LA Museum of Art, so afterwards you can visit the art museum or just hang out in Hancock Park, which is popular with dogs and frisbees. People into science and learning will find the Page Museum and tar pits of most interest. It also will be a winner with kids given its novelty and the "wow factor" of huge animal skeletons. The museum is less busy Monday-Wednesday and after 1:00pm when school groups leave.
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