Bright and early on March 1st, with not a cloud in sight, the Los Angeles Natural History Museum found itself in an unexpected predicament—a fire had sparked, calling for an all-hands-on-deck response from the city’s bravest. Firefighting teams zipped to the scene, squashing the flames with efficiency and speed.

The scoop from the Los Angeles Fire Department has it that the blaze kicked off just past high noon at the museum, right in the heart of Exposition Park Boulevard. About 40 firefighters leaped into action, taming the firestorm in a brisk twenty-something minutes. This hiccup led to a bit of a scare, leaving behind a smoky trace inside the museum. Nonetheless, a swift evacuation maneuver ensured everyone got out unscathed, without a single visitor or employee hurt. Now, the word is that the cause might be tied to some roofing work—a puzzle piece authorities are piecing together.

Nestled within Exposition Park’s embrace, the Los Angeles Natural History Museum isn’t just another stop on the map. It’s part of Los Angeles County’s trio of natural history jewels, along with the La Brea Tar Pits and the William S. Hart Museum. The park itself is a bustling nexus of learning and cultural vibrancy, playing host to the California Science Center, the California African American Museum, and the legendary Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, famed battleground of UCLA’s football warriors. Amidst this cluster of intellectual and historical heavyweights, the Rose Gardens stand out, offering a serene slice of nature’s art amidst the concrete jungle.

The inception of Exposition Park dates back to 1910, spurred by William Miller Bowen’s initiative to create a space that countered the city’s inclinations toward drinking and gambling. His vision paved the way for the park’s transformation into a vibrant cultural center, a role it proudly continues to fulfill. Opening its doors in 1913, the original Natural History Museum building still serves as a core part of the museum today. It once showcased prehistoric finds from the La Brea Tar Pits, drawing significant attention. Over time, these precious skeletons were relocated to the George C. Page Museum of La Brea Discoveries in Hancock Park. Similarly, the museum’s initial art gallery eventually laid the groundwork for the establishment of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in 1963.

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The Natural History Museum recently underwent extensive renovations designed to preserve the original architecture that took over two years to complete and reopened in 2009. Seismic retrofit was added to the building, and the colorful stained glass skylight that hangs above the Rotunda was expertly restored and strengthened. There has not been any major construction reported on the building since, but the roofing operation that caused last week’s fire seems to indicate that more work is being done on the building.

Although the root of the fire is still unknown, it does not appear to be unsafe to visit the museum. Among the main attractions are Dinosaur Hall featuring more than 300 fossils and 20 mounted skeletons, 3.5 acres of nature gardens, and an ongoing exhibition about the life of P-22, the recently deceased mountain lion that resided in Griffith Park. Special exhibitions, like L.A. Underwater, which explores what the city was like when it was covered by water in prehistoric times, and Scanning Electron Microscope Lab, which shows visitors gems and minerals under high-tech microscopes, are always exciting to experience.