Becoming Los Angeles
This stunning exhibition marks the second major project between the Natural History Museum and Cinnabar. In 2010, Cinnabar collaborated with the Museum during the design phase, produced and installed Age of Mammals, a 7,400-square-foot permanent exhibit that traces the evolution of mammals and mammal diversity over the last 65 million years. For Becoming Los Angeles, Cinnabar again worked closely with the NHM team to design-build, fabricate, and install all of the exhibit elements over a 25-month period.
Becoming Los Angeles explores the growth of Los Angeles over the course of five centuries, illustrating the interconnection of the city’s ecological and cultural histories. It brings LA history to life through compelling stories and ancient and historic artifacts — objects made and used by Native Americans, colonists, and settlers; rancheros, citrus growers and oil barons; captains of industry, boosters, and radicals; filmmakers, innovators, and more. It also features visitor-activated multi-media installations and moments, including an interactive scale model of downtown L.A. in the 1930s. This exhibition, installed in a suite of four adjacent galleries in NHM’s newly renovated 1913 and 1920s buildings, is the largest in the Museum.
The close level of collaboration between Cinnabar and NHM involved in the creation of the exhibition is rarely seen in the museum world. From a project management stand point, Becoming Los Angeles was exceptional. It incorporated a substantial amount of early and proactive prototyping, which allowed for considerable dexterity, flexibility, creative approaches & solutions to building, and out of the box thinking along the way. As part of that process, a four-member design team from NHM was embedded in Cinnabar’s production facilities for five months during design-build work, in order to maintain constant dialogue and streamline the design & fabrication process.
This process included the technical challenge of fabricating a sweeping overhead steel canopy that flows through all the halls of the show, tying the exhibits together and emphasizing important turn of events in Los Angeles’s history.
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