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Natural History Museum's Front Yard to be a Wilderness Haven

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Natural History Museum officials yesterday revealed plans to expand the facility's programming area by 50 percent with the addition of a 3.5-acre urban wilderness area called North Campus (but that's just a working title). Located mainly between the museum building and Exposition Boulevard, where a Metro Expo Line station will be located, the $30 million plan will bring interactive outdoor exhibits, a new main entrance to the Museum, and a new car park (this is how they explain it: "a nature-filled structure that will feature a canopy of flowering vines and hummingbird and butterfly habitats creating a 'park' like setting instead of a stark concrete parking garage.)

The park is scheduled to open in 2011 in anticipation of the museum's centennial in 2013, which is being worked on as evident by progress on the 1913 building. $10 million from a L.A. County grant has funded the car park structure, but the remaining $20 million must be fundraised.

“We are entering a new dimension of programming, extending the visitor experience from an incredible collection of natural specimens inside, to an outdoor space where plants and animals can be interpreted in a living context," said Dr. Jane Pisano, president and director of the Museum. "We have always made connections to the natural world, but now the connections are literal. It is a dramatic new way for us to apply the mission ‘to inspire wonder, discovery, and responsibility for our natural and cultural worlds.’”

One of those literal connections will be the through wildlife. Exposition Park is home to at least 159 bird species--add to that this: LA County is known as the “birdiest” county in the U.S.--and the North Campus plan will provide prime space for them.