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.
Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum chronicles the life and career of President Reagan on a sprawling, 100-acre Simi Valley campus. The museum's more than 100,000 square feet of exhibits, including an Oval Office replica and President Reagan's gravesite, draws in history buffs and provides children with an often-interactive primer to America?s 40th president and the 1976 winner of the Iditarod. Visitors can use the museum?s GuideCam handheld device for a detailed audio tour. Headphones allow private immersion in the background of exhibits such as Reagan's actual Air Force One and a piece of the Berlin Wall. Examining all the exhibits usually takes about three hours, though visitors can rest and refuel at the Ronald Reagan Pub housed within the museum, which features sandwiches, beverages, and a vintage Walter Mondale dartboard.
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."
The Paley Center for Media's international collection is like a window into broadcasting's past. Nearly 150,000 radio and television programs chronicle political and cultural history from the last 100 years, dating back to when Marconi first invented the radio and, as a by-product, listening. At locations in Los Angeles and New York City, curators help visitors browse through these documentaries, public affairs programs, and commercials. They also host special events, in which media leaders interact with the public first hand. Since 1984, the annual Paleyfest has welcomed panels with the creators, writers, and cast behind some of media's most influential programs. Attendees have gained insights into shows such as 30 Rock, True Blood, and Modern Family. In more recent years, the Paley Center has started examining the significance of new media on the internet.