From Dinos to Disney: the Natural History Museum gets a facelift for its 100th birthday

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From gazing up into the ferocious jaw of a life-size Tyrannosaurus rex to wandering through the exotic landscape of fluttering butterflies, every day this summer boasts family-friendly fun at the Natural History Museum in Exposition Park in Los Angeles.

The museum is now 100 years old and it has revamped itself into an indoor and outdoor adventure to celebrate the past and future all in one setting.

With two convenient Metro Expo line stops in Exposition Park — Expo Park/USC Expo/Vermont — Metro provides easy access to avoid parking fees and traffic hassles. Also, by showing a valid Metro TAP card at the box office, visitors get $1.25 off the $12 adult admission. To plan your best route, visit Metro’s Trip Planner.

At the museum, kids can gawk at the gigantic dinosaur skeletons in the renovated 14,000-square-foot Dinosaur Hall. This collection is twice the size of that in the previous hall and includes 20 full body dinos. Visitors can see the only place in the world that shows the three different phases of the life of a Tyrannosaurus rex. And the exhibit features the youngest known baby T-Rex fossil.

Stepping outside the museum, visitors can experience a nature walk filled with exotic birds and butterflies in the new 3.5 acre Nature Gardens. The garden used to be home to asphalt parking lots but it is now furnished with native California plants and provides a perfect outdoor setting for kids to engage in gardening workshops.

The garden’s indoor equivalent, the Nature Lab, is the center for seeing nature through new eyes. Real scientific research and hands-on activities guide visitors of all ages to embark on a journey to learn about nature all around us.

Even more exhibits are opening throughout the summer to highlight the museum’s centennial year. “Becoming Los Angeles,” debuts in July and explores the history of the city over the span of hundreds of years starting from the pre-Spanish landscape to L.A. as a global city of the 21st century. The exhibit even has the animation stand that Walt Disney used to film “Steamboat Willie,” the first cartoon released that featured Mickey Mouse.

With an overall goal of bringing the Natural History Museum into the 21st century, nearly 60 percent of the facility has been restored inside, ranging from a new café and car park, as well as re-furbished elevators and shops, which transforms the museum in more ways than one.