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FYF Fest in Expo Park shutters Natural History Museum's Butterfly Pavilion

FYF Fest in Expo Park shutters Natural History Museum's Butterfly Pavilion
The Butterfly Pavilion outside the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County in Exposition Park. The popular exhibit will close this weekend because of concert noise from the FYF Fest. (Mario de Lopez / Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County)

In 1969 the Woodstock Festival inspired Joni Mitchell to dream of "bomber death planes … turning into butterflies above our nation."

The FYF Fest, one of Woodstock's many and popular 21st century progeny, is inspiring the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County to shut down its popular outdoor Butterfly Pavilion this weekend to spare visitors from being bombarded by concert noise.

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In fact, with 30,000 music fans expected at Exposition Park on Saturday and Sunday for FYF, the Natural History Museum sent out an email to its members suggesting that it might be a good idea to stay away altogether.

That would be a shocking thing for most museums to advise, but the Natural History Museum proposed alternatives suiting its own interests – visits to its two other venues, the Page Museum at the La Brea Tar Pits or the William S. Hart Museum in Newhall, which has art and artifacts of the Old West and movie memorabilia collected by the site's namesake, a cowboy film star of the silent movie era.

The Exposition Park museum will operate as usual – except for the Butterfly Pavilion, where visitors step into an open-air meshed structure between the museum's doorstep and the lawn where FYF is setting up stages on which some of its dozens of rock bands, hip-hop acts and electronic dance music stars will thunder.

"We learned from the concert last year that the noise from the performances severely interfered with the quality of the visitor experience in the Butterfly Pavilion," museum spokeswoman Cynthia Wornham said in an email Thursday. "In fact, we had to hand out ear plugs to staff and visitors!!"

The butterflies won't be ushered indoors for protection, Wornham said, but museum staff members will check to make sure there are no problems, as they routinely do for potential issues related to the weather.

Last summer, when the FYF Fest first came to Exposition Park, "there was no discernible impact" on the lovely flutterers, Wornham said. In fact, butterflies have no conventional sense of hearing, although they do feel sound as vibrations.

Wornham said that on an average summer weekend, up to 1,700 visitors go through the Butterfly Pavilion, which is open during the spring and summer. It will close Sept. 7, two days after another loud event – USC's season-opening football game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum against Arkansas State.

But that's a night game, and USC's other home games this season are scheduled to start no earlier than 4:30 p.m. The three museums in Exposition Park close at 5.

Concerts, USC football games and soccer matches at the Coliseum deflate the Natural History Museum's attendance by as much as 30%, Wornham said.

Its two cultural neighbors in Exposition Park, the California Science Center and California African American Museum, also will be affected by the FYF Fest; the science center put a heavy traffic advisory on its website, saying its visitors can expect delays.

In certain other circumstances the Natural History Museum isn't shy about bombarding wildlife and humans alike with loud rock and dance music. Its monthly winter and spring "First Fridays" series features pop music concerts that typically are staged in one of its diorama halls after regular museum hours. There, the spectators include an array of mammals who can't hear a thing -- they're dead and stuffed.

Follow @boehmm  of the LA Times for arts news and features

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