By Olivia Popp
The California Science Center is located just blocks away from the USC campus and Exposition Park in Los Angeles. Science museums — especially interactive ones — like the California Science Center typically cater to younger audiences, with the exception of traveling and temporary exhibits. It’s tough to find a museum that’s catered to older audiences since science museums typically work to explain simpler scientific concepts in a fun manner. However, the California Science Center also has a number of impressive exhibits that allow for a little more exploration of historical and anthropological subjects for all ages. Two of these are KING TUT: Treasures of the Golden Pharaoh (through January 6, 2019) and Space Shuttle Endeavour (ongoing).
KING TUT is an exclusive treat for southern California audiences on the 100th anniversary of the discovery of King Tut’s tomb — it’s the largest touring exhibition of the artifacts ever, as well as the only U.S. stop. Featuring 150 artifacts, the California Science Center carefully curates the objects in two different exhibits, enclosed in dark and dimly lit rooms that evoke sensations of myth and historical curiosity without infringing upon exotic exploitations of Ancient Egypt. Even if you know nothing about Egyptian history, the magnificence and splendor of the collection of artifacts is fascinating in and of itself, and you’re sure to learn something along the way. King Tutankhamen has been overly glamorized throughout history because of its discovery as one of the most intact tombs of Egyptian kings, and KING TUT aims to deconstruct this notion while still showing its beauty.
Space Shuttle Endeavour displays the entirety of the titular space shuttle accompanied by related exhibits detailing the history of the Space Shuttle program and related components. Endeavour, in all of its glory, is quite a sight to see — visitors can walk around the entirety of the shuttle and take in its size, construction and parts. Endeavour will eventually be permanently installed in the California Science Center, housed in the Samuel Oschin Air and Space Center, a new space in the museum for exhibits, seemingly akin to the Air and Space Museum in Washington D.C. Endeavour will eventually be displayed in its vertical ready-to-launch position rather than its horizontal position now as the world’s only complete system of the Space Shuttle System from the Space Shuttle program, run from 1981 through 2011.
These two exhibits make the California Science Center worth it, even if the rest of the exhibits may not be up your alley if you’ve seen previous science museums. KING TUT is an added cost, but Space Shuttle Endeavour is included in admission on select days. With general admission, you’ll be able to explore the museum and peruse the wide variety of exhibits included. Make sure to allot enough time for the entire museum as well as potential time to explore the surrounding park and grounds — it’s a beautiful place.
Contact Olivia Popp at oliviapopp ‘at’ stanford.edu.