Natural History Museum
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Seeing the light at Natural History Museum

Natural History Museum
TAKE a trip to the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County and you’re bound to encounter some impressive bone structures. Popular tenants include the Tyrannosaurus rex and a complete cast of the long-necked Mamenchisaurus. But the biggest dinosaur is perhaps the building itself -- a hulking, fossilized fortress from a bygone era.

A three-year, $84-million renovation of the famed skeletons’ 1913 home in Exposition Park aims to change that, but the project is proving to be particularly challenging. The museum says that the original architects left behind only basic blueprints of the building, and in some cases, entire designs have been lost. Continue reading more.

Here, Kate Neilson of Cordell Corp, the project management company overseeing the effort to restore and seismically strengthen the building, takes a photograph of the stained glass skylight dome. (Annie Wells / Los Angeles Times)
Natural History Museum Restoration
Luis Cuevas from Judson Studios, which originally designed the museum’s skylight, cleans a stained glass panel. No one had touched the glass for 15 years, so it was filthy and needed many repairs. (Annie Wells / Los Angeles Times)
Natural History Museum Restoration
Workers from Judson Studios in Highland Park place a stained glass panel gently back into place in the museum’s skylight dome. Approximately 3,200 pounds of glass were used in its construction. (Annie Wells / Los Angeles Times)
Natural History Museum Restoration
This is a view between the plain glass skylight of the museum, above, and the stained glass. The glass dome and structure protect the stained glass. (Annie Wells / Los Angeles Times)
Natural History Museum Restoration
Hector Vargas, a worker for Judson Studios, makes a repair on one of the panels. The Natural History Museum was the first museum to open in Los Angeles. (Annie Wells / Los Angeles Times)
Natural History Museum Restoration
Larry Laskey paints the cove detailing on the mezzanine level of the rotunda at the museum. (Annie Wells / Los Angeles Times)
Natural History Museum Restoration
Larry Laskey paints cove detailing as part of the three-year, $84-million museum renovation project. (Annie Wells / Los Angeles Times)
Natural History Museum Restoration
The skylight -- which reaches 57 feet into the air -- in mid-restoration. (Annie Wells / Los Angeles Times)
Natural History Museum Restoration
During the restoration and seismic strengthening undertaken at the museum, a worker’s initials were found from work done in 1929. (Annie Wells / Los Angeles Times)
Natural History Museum
The Natural History Museum, as viewed from Exposition Park’s Sunken Garden in the early 1920s. (Museum Archives / Natural History Museum / Ruder Finn Arts & Communications)
Natural History Museum Restoration
The museum ‘s original South Wing, Hancock Hall, housed scientific artifacts. This is how it looked circa 1920. (Museum Archives / Natural History Museum / Ruder Finn Arts & Communications)
Natural History Museum Restoration
Located in the center of the Rotunda, Julia Bracken Wendt’s “Three Muses” sculpture was unveiled on May 30, 1914. Representing history, art, and science, art critics labeled it the “first real art in bronze in the city.” (The photo is from 1930.) (Museum Archives / Natural History Museum / Ruder Finn Arts & Communications)
Natural History Museum Restoration
The ceiling of the 1913 building’s historic rotunda and stained glass -- as it looked on Feb. 5, 1915. (Museum Archives / Natural History Museum / Ruder Finn Arts & Communications)
Natural History Museum Restoration
A postcard image of Exposition Park, showing the Sunken Garden, Aqueduct Fountain and the museum, circa 1920. (Museum Archives / Natural History Museum / Ruder Finn Arts & Communications)
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