Los Angeles County Supervisors Kathryn Barger and Janice Hahn have successfully introduced a motion that empowers the Natural History Museums of Los Angeles County to expand access to mobile museum programs to new students, schools and communities across the county.
For many years, the program included two mobile museums: An Archeology Experience for third to fifth grades and An Ocean Experience for sixth to twelfth grades. In fall 2023, the Natural History Museums opened a new La Brea Tar Pits mobile museum featuring the Ice Age for students in kindergarten to second grade, funded through the California Natural Resources Agency for the first year.
“These incredible mobile museums bring fun, interactive experiences to students who may not be able to easily access museums due to distance or their families’ ability to pay,” said Supervisor Kathryn Barger. “We have a terrific opportunity to help more students every year get the enjoyment, enrichment, and educational benefits of hands-on learning from the Natural History Museums of Los Angeles County. I want as many school districts and community partners as possible to know this free resource is available to them.”
“The La Brea Tar Pits mobile museum is new and we need to get the word out,” said Supervisor Janice Hahn. “Not every school or summer program can organize a field trip to mid-city and this mobile museum is a great opportunity to bring the fun and the knowledge to kids across the County.”
A mobile museum can be scheduled for up to three classes a day at a given school and is staffed by two educators from the museum, who come equipped with educational materials to engage youth before and after their visit.
Connecting children to educational experiences through museums at an early age has proven long-term impacts. According to data from the National Center for Education Statistics, children who visited a museum during kindergarten had higher achievement scores in reading, mathematics, and science in third grade than children who did not.
For many years, the mobile museum programs were limited to Los Angeles Unified School District schools with funding from the Max H. Gluck Foundation. The Natural History Museums began a strategic expansion plan in 2018 with the approval of the Gluck Foundation, which made way for the mobile museums to begin serving other school districts in the county.
“NHMLAC’s Mobile Museums program, including the new La Brea Tar Pits Mobile Museum, embodies our institution’s commitment to increasing innovative S.T.E.A.M. learning access and resources for the greater Los Angeles community,” said Dr. Lori Bettison-Varga, President and Director of the Natural History Museums of Los Angeles County. “Programs like this are not possible without the steadfast support of the County. My utmost gratitude goes out to Supervisors Barger and Hahn for this inspiring motion and to the entire Board of Supervisors for enthusiastically supporting this unique and impactful initiative intended to equitably engage students in science-based education.”
In addition to program grants from the Max H. Gluck Foundation and the California Natural Resources Agency, the mobile museum programs are made possible through support from the Ahmanson Foundation, Institute for Museum and Library Services, and Kenneth T. and Eileen L. Norris Foundation. In total, there has been more than $4.7 million in philanthropic support for the program from 2020 to 2024.
In addition to schools, mobile museums can be made available for community events such as parks, libraries, fairs, festivals and other civic events.
To request a mobile museum for your school or event, click here.