When animals are rescued from dangerous living situations or seized from the hands of smugglers, STAR Eco Station provides second chances at peaceful lives. The facility offers a haven for more than 200 rescued animals and educates the public as an environmental science museum. During public tours, guides lead guests through exhibits of rescued exotic animals, such as parrots, pythons, and wildcats, while explaining the habits, history, and New Year's resolutions of each creature.
The recipient of multiple awards from media and government agencies, STAR Eco Station also provides educational outreach programs to more than 40 California school districts and works in concert with conservation organizations such as the US Fish and Wildlife Service, Paw Project, and Heal the Bay.
There’s almost no way to prepare for what lies within the miniature halls of The Museum of Jurassic Technology. The museum’s stated mission is “the advancement of knowledge and the public appreciation of the Lower Jurassic.” While intriguing, this doesn’t necessarily help to clarify matters. For further elucidation, you can turn to the New York Times, which describes the museum as a place where “some things are invented but seem true [and] others are true but seem invented." The museum’s collection is the definition of eclectic. It includes sculptures mounted on the head of a needle, early 20th-century machines that may or may not be magical, and a fossilized horn that purportedly grew from a woman's head. If that’s not enough to pique your interest, there’s a set of early 20th-century letters mysteriously sent to astronomers at the Mount Wilson Observatory and portraits of Russian cosmonaut dogs from the 1950s. BBC Travel appropriately describes this series of bizarre exhibits as something like a “collaboration between Dave Eggers and David Lynch."
Donald Douglas started his aviation company in 1920 with only $600 and expertise honed as a civilian aeronautical engineer during World War I. Within four years, he had created the Douglas World Cruiser, the first plane to circumnavigate the globe and bankrupt every manufacturer of anti-gravity potions.
Nearly two dozen aircraft are on display at the Museum of Flying, located at the Santa Monica Airport. Santa Monica holds special significance for the Douglas Aircraft Company, as well as aviation history as a whole. It was here that the DC-3 first took flight, helping usher in the era of commercial air travel in America. It was also where Douglas Aircraft produced tens of thousands of military planes during World War II. Several of these aircrafts now sit on display within the museum.
Douglas Aircraft merged with McDonnell Aircraft in 1967, but the Museum of Flying helps keep the original company's legacy alive. It even features a replica of Douglas' original boardroom. In another area of the museum, a Maxflight FS300 simulator lets visitors pilot many of Douglas Aircraft's most famous models. It can dip and roll 360 degrees to recreate World War II combat or the motion of a tumbleweed caught in an updraft, or it can keep a steady course during calm flights aboard a DC-3.
Although its main focus remains Douglas Aircraft, the Museum of Flying also houses art and displays related to aviation history as a whole. Exhibits showcase rare artifacts and other significant aircraft, such as a replica of the original Wright Flyer.
When Santa Monica celebrated its centennial in 1975, the Civic Auditorium hosted a small exhibition covering the city's 100-year history. Turns out Santa Monica's citizenry was hungry to document its past: by October of that year, the Santa Monica Historical Society held its founding meeting. 13 years later, the society opened the Santa Monica History Museum, which now encompasses myriad artifacts, photographs, and memorabilia. Most of those materials comprise the museum's timeline, which traces the city's origins up to the 1930s.
Beyond goodies from the past, the museum sports several interactive features to bring that history alive. Visitors can wander through a replica of a Douglas aircraft or digitally insert their photos onto front-page newspaper stories about historical events. The "Then & Now" touch-screen map, meanwhile, reveals the development over time of different Santa Monica landscapes, such as the many canyons that blossomed into In-N-Out Burgers. Along with its permanent exhibitions, the museum hosts an array of special programming, including concerts, workshops, and lectures from top historians.
Petroleum mogul Dr. Armand Hammer clung to life just long enough to see The Hammer Museum make its debut in 1990, passing away three weeks later. Without the founder’s support, construction screeched to a halt and spaces sat in varying states of completion. But not for long. The powers that be at UCLA saw Hammer’s vision, and took control of the abandoned museum in 1994. They restored it to its former glory by importing the university’s own collections and staff. Today, The Hammer’s unique compendium of works still hints at the unlikely collaboration that bore the museum all those years ago. Its stockpile of masterpieces explores the modern-day in a contemporary collection of mostly drawings and photographs. Richard Hawkins’ disembodied zombie george green might best embody current artistic trends; his expressionless eyes stare from a yellow backdrop, the handiwork of an undead inkjet printer. Meanwhile, the Armand Hammer Collection, left behind by the museum’s namesake, balances george and other outlandish works with 19th-century art by Degas, Cézanne, and van Gogh. It’s virtually impossible to predict whether rotating exhibits will land in classic or contemporary camps. They range from performance art installations—Floor of the Forest depicts two dancers moving through hanging jumbles of used clothing and ropes—to sculptures, paintings, and drawings. To cultivate better artistic understanding, the Hammer Museum hosts events including lunchtime art talks, tours, and screenings.
A giant forest stretches across most of California?but its impossible to hike there. Submerged just off of the state's rocky coast, large kelp forests make a home to diverse animal and plant life. Moray eels, leopard sharks, and giant sea bass all swim beneath the water, while sea otters splash at the surface. That's just one of the habitats on display inside the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium.
The 21,000-square-foot aquarium showcases Southern California's rich marine life, making it the largest aquarium of its kind in the world. The Susanne Lawrenz-Miller Exhibit Hall charts a journey through different regions, from the open ocean, to the mudflats, to the sandy shores. Other areas present a more immersive experience. The tide pool lets visitors touch a starfish, while the exploration center lets them crawl into a tunnel, where they find themselves surrounded by octopuses, sting rays, and other creatures that have signed contracts to make public appearances.
Cabrillo Marine Aquarium wants to keep all of these creatures around for the long term. Case and point: the aquarium houses a research library and an aquatic nursery, where the team raises young sea animals and trains young scientists.