Atrium | La Brea Tar Pits and Museum


A Courtyard of Contemplation 

One of the most surprising features of the La Brea Tar Pits Museum is its Atrium. The beautiful, tree-filled courtyard at the center of the museum draws natural light into the building and provides a peaceful spot for visitors to contemplate the prehistoric wonders nearby. Families snap pictures of children mesmerized by the colorful koi fish swimming in circles in the gurgling pond. Ginkgo trees hang over the plentiful benches, a popular reading spot for visitors. In the Spring, hummingbirds begin to set up their nests in the bamboo trees planted throughout the uncovered, 9,000-square-foot terrain.

But the plants and trees in the Atrium were not intended to resemble the flora of the Ice Age. The native vegetation of the Ice Age is, instead, beautifully displayed in the Pleistocene Garden, an outdoor oasis of pine, sage, and buckwheat. George C. Page, the Museum's founder, was so passionate about gardens that he even spent time taking care of the Atrium's plants himself — even though he employed a maintenance crew.