museum, history, gardens

project Exposition Park

EXPOSITION PARK, home to the Science Center and Natural History Museum which, together, celebrate the weird and incredible universe we live in.


The history of man is hung on a timeline of exploration - we came out of the cave, and we looked over the hill and we saw fire; and we crossed the ocean and we pioneered the west, and we took to the sky; we sent 12 men to walk the moon and we discovered water, the essential ingredient of life, on the martian planet.

[Note: the above is a shameless bastardization of a West Wing quote]

Both museums are love letters to science. Now the Monday Project girls fall more cozied under the umbrella of “artist” than they do scientist. But damn, if science isn’t sexy and poetic in its own right. And, judging by the space suits on display at the Science Center, astronauts are too. The suits suggest they all have very taut little butts. In actuality, these guys (guys colloquially, as in guys and gals) are PhD’s with the bodies of world-class athletes.

The Science Center has all sorts of cool science-y stuff. There’s an entire exhibit on kelp that actually makes kelp interesting. There’s a starfish petting zoo. For $2 you can put yourself and your best friend inside a glass encasement and feel what it’s like to be in a hurricane.

The golden exhibit at the Science Center is, hands down, the stuff about space. Included in that is the space shuttle Endeavour. Inside an airplane hanger you can stand under the space shuttle Endeavour. Like it’s the actual shuttle that’s been to actual space. It’s been to space 25 times, in fact, and it was the second to last shuttle to ever exit Earth’s atmosphere under NASA’s space shuttle program as of 2016.


Fun Fact: If you’re wondering why Endeavour is spelled the British way, it’s because the shuttle is named in honor of the HMS Endeavour, the ship that took explorer James Cook on his first expedition.

The Science Center also has an IMAX theater.

When you’re done exploring the Science Center, head to the gift shop and get yourself some astronaut ice cream (Neapolitan flavor, recommended). Enjoy it while you walk through the Exposition Park Rose Garden. Afterward, make your way to the Natural History Museum.

Now, the NHM is cool for several reasons. Among them is that it’s constantly hosting special events. The first Friday of every month from February - June the NHM presents a KCRW-hosted music event, which means visitors get to stay late at the museum and listen to DJ’s, special music guest and scientist-led talks.

On just regular old days, the museum has halls worth of taxidermy animals - some still roaming the earth, some long since extinct - that look outrageously real. In the recently redone dino exhibit, Triceratops and T-Rex skeletons tower over you. There’s an area, called the Dino Lab, where you can watch real scientists work on excavated bones.

Parts of the museum look they haven’t been updated since the 70’s. The Bird Hall is conservatively colored, lots of taupe and deep burgundy. The birds are all cluttered behind glass encasements. But, hey, it’s still cool.

There is always as special exhibit going on. At the time of this post, it’s Mummies.

Take Note

The Science Center is free to visit, excluding special exhibitions and IMAX.

Click here for a link the ticketing for The Natural History Museum:


An awesome perk, you can very conveniently take the metro to get here! The Expo/USC station off the Expo line is right across the way. If you must drive, It costs $10 to park in the lot at Exposition Park. Free street parking is also available. But don't forget to look at the signs for parking restrictions. 

Exposition Park is also home to the California African American Museum, which we’ll going to on another visit.

neighborhood, history

project El Pueblo

EL PUEBLO, the birthplace of Los Angeles. 

View down Olvera St

In 1781, 44 settlers established a farming community in a southwest bit of what was then known as Alta California. They christened their newly formed community El Pueblo de la Reina de Los Angeles, The Town of the Queen of Angels. In 1953, that 44-acre area was designated the El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historic Monument.  

Beginning in the 1990's, Los Angeles commenced a series of projects designed to preserve, restore and revitalize the area the started Los Angeles. Today, El Pueblo is a vibrant and lively two-blocks, speckled with FREE museums, live music, restaurants, an eclectic marketplace and historic churches. Find a bench on Olvera Street, enjoy the shade of the trees, and soak in the quiet giddiness of the surrounds. 

Among the treasures of El Pueblo are: 

  • Avila Adobe - the oldest surviving residence in Los Angeles, built in 1818. It's a museum today, so go inside and wander around the rooms of the original house. FREE to the public.  
  • The Old Plaza Firehouse - the oldest fire station in Los Angeles, built in 1884.  FREE to the public. 
  • America Tropical Interpretive Center - provides information about David Alfaro Siqueiro’s controversial mural ‘America Tropical.’ FREE to the public. 
  • Olvera Street (the oldest street in Los Angeles) - a block-long Mexican marketplace with restaurants and stalls painted in a wash of primary colors. In 1930, the street was closed to vehicular traffic and hasn't changed much since. 
  • La Plaza de Cultura y Artes - museum for Mexican-American culture. On the top floor there is a life-sized, interactive replica of El Pueblo from the 1930's. It's complete with a spice shop, record store, vegetable mart and more. FREE to public. 
  • Chinese American Museum - The museum is housed in the Garner building (1890), the oldest and last surviving structure of the original Chinatown. Learn about the history of the Chinese in El Pueblo and more. FREE to public. 

  • Jorge the Donkey - Not technically a museum, but an institution of sorts. Put on a Sombrero, and put your ass on this ass. $10. Check out the story of Jorge here.

Take Note:

  • El Pueblo is right across the street from Union Station, more reason to take the train!
  • Nightlife with few exceptions is virtually non-existent in El Pueblo. The stalls and most restaurants close around sunset.
  • There is nearly always entertaining live music going on in La Plaza. From 3-6 on weekdays and all day on weekends. Don’t forget to support the local artists and tip!
  • Recommended food: Juanita’s cafe! It’s one of the little stalls along Olvera St. Eat here.

art, history, gardens

project Wayfarers Chapel

Wanderer, adventurer, vagabond, rambler… Wayfarers Chapel.

In Rancho Palos Verdes, on a grassy hillock overlooking the Pacific Ocean, there is a small chapel made of glass. The chapel is chic, and gentle and warm inside. It was first envisioned in the 1920s, by a member of the Swedenborgian Church (a Protestant Christian denomination, named for its 18th century founder, Emanuel Swedenborg, a scientist, philosopher and theologian), as a place where life’s wayfarers could stop to rest, meditate and give thanks to God.  

Pause for a moment, wayfarer,
on life’s journey.
Let these waters restore your
soul and nourish your
inner being.
— Quote on a wall of the chapel, 1984

The chapel came to its redwood and glass fruition in 1951. It was designed by Lloyd Wright (Frank Lloyd Wright’s eldest son) who found that the teachings of the Swedenborgian church, their emphasis on the harmony between God’s natural world and the inner world of mind and spirit, matched his own design ethics.

When the trees that surround the Chapel grow up, they will become the framework...this is done to give the congregation protection in services and at the same time to create the sense of outer as well as inner space.
— Lloyd Wright

The chapel, grounds and visitor’s center are open daily from 10:00 am - 5:00 pm. There are frequently weddings held in the chapel, so you may have to wait for an opportunity to go inside. Worry not. The breathtaking views of the surroundings and the little rose garden are more than enough to occupy your eyeballs and feed your gentle wayfarer soul.

museum, art, history

project Adamson House

THE ADAMSON HOUSE, a beautiful house, on a pretty piece of property, sandwiched between Surfrider Beach and the Malibu Lagoon.


View from the Adamson House balconies, facing south-west.

View from the Adamson House balconies, facing south-west.

It’s more than just a beautiful house, actually. It’s one of California’s finest crafted homes. Perhaps the most eye-seducing bit of the estate is the ceramic tile work that is woven, ever so meticulously and thoughtfully, through each room in the house and on the exterior. The tiles were created by the famous, though short-lived, Malibu Potteries, whose lead ceramicist is considered a genius in his field. Our docent’s favorite room is the upstairs bathroom that belonged to the Adamson’s daughters, because it cocoons you in a wash of turquoise, and cobalt and burnt-orange tile.

The House itself is open for tours on only Friday and Saturday. But the grounds the house sits on are open everyday from 8:00 am to Sunset. There’s a magnificent view of the beach from the garden in the backyard, where you can tuck yourself away from, but still totally watch, the swaths of surfers on the beach. Have a little stroll down the dirt driveway and sit on the observation deck of the Malibu Lagoon for some additional tranquility.

If you happen to be in the area on a Fri/Sat, take the hour-long docent led tour of the house’s interior. The docents are engaging, and enthusiastic and knowledgeable. The tour is good for all ages, and for architect nuts and non-nuts alike.

To learn more about the Adamson House, it’s history and visitor information, go to:


art, history

project Murphy's Ranch

MURPHY'S RANCH, the abandoned ruins of a former Nazi-compound. 

In the early 1930s, a mysterious German man, known simply as Herr Schmidt, befriended a couple of wealthy American Nazi-sympathizers. He claimed to possess supernatural powers and ties to the Third Reich, and he convinced Winona and Norman Stephens (our ever-pliable American couple) that Hitler’s takeover of the United States was imminent.

The facts surrounding this story are sketchy, even for historians. But the thing that’s definitely true is that there is a compound of overgrown, spray-painted ruins tucked away in a canyon in the Pacific Palisades, and you can hike to it.  

Rumor is the couple hoped to establish a Nazi Utopia that could sustain them and a small following through the apocalyptic-style months that would follow Hitler’s conquering of America. They built an elaborate infrastructure that included a 395,000-gallon concrete water tank, a 20,000-gallon diesel fuel tank and a power station.

It’s all still there today.  

Take Note:

  • The hike is just under 4 miles.
  • It is accessible from the residential end of Sullivan Ridge Fire Road (street parking at the intersection of Capri Dr. and Casale Rd.) or via Rustic Canyon from Will Rogers State Historic Park.
  • The compound is connected by a series of steep, stone stairs. Prep for sweat.