This suggested walking tour is part of an all-day self-guided tour on Starline Tours Hop-on Hop-off double-decker bus. This page assumes that you are arriving around 4:40 PM and have an hour to look around. The description here also assumes you will not go inside LACMA, although the locations of the ticket booths have been identified with "Tix" inside an orange circle.
Walk in the entrance gate of LACMA, near the bus stop.
Do not walk up the stairs. Instead, turn right and walk through the Director's Roundtable Garden.
There are a few outdoor exhibits in this area. Walk around the reflection pool (labeled "RP" on the map), and past two more sculptures.
Continue walking on the path under a bridge, near a small grove of bamboo. Walk up the driveway/path. Turn right near the top, and walk toward the cement cubes.
Phoenix installation at LACMA
You are now on the hill above the reflection pool, where you'll find more outdoor exhibits (cubes made of concrete and Alexander Liberman's Phoenix installation - a large red sculpture made of iron cylinders, among others).
You will need to backtrack a little from the Phoenix installation (red sculpture) to get back to the path. You should easily be able to see Lake Pit Exhibition. Walk around it on the side nearest Wilshire Blvd.
About mid-point of the Lake Pit exhibition you'll find a viewing station with a sign describing the attraction. This is a good place to take photos, because the angle of lighting should be good. The afternoon sun should be at your back, and the shade of the trees keeps the sun off of your camera.
Continue around Lake Pit toward the family of mammoths. There are a few good picture opportunities along the way. On the foot bridge near the mammoths, look down at the lake shore and you will see tar oozing out of the ground. This is a good spot to take a close-up photo of the mammoths.
At the end of the bridge, look through the fence along Wilshire Blvd for a square orange sign on a building across the street. That's CAFAM. This is a good location to take a picture of it.
Lake Pit exhibit and CAFAM
As you continue walking around Lake Pit, past the mammoths you'll find another sign that describes the Lake Pit exhibition. This location is a good opportunity to take a picture of Page Museum, nearby. It closes at 5PM so you won't be able to see the exhibits inside. However if the doors are open you could visit the souvenir shop. In the large courtyard outside of Page Museum (among the picnic tables) there are some restrooms and soda machines.
On the side of Lake Pit nearest to Page Museum, there are some benches. From there you can take a cool photo of the mammoths, with CAFAM in the background (see photo at right). If you time it just right, you could get the next Starline double-decker bus as it passes by. But keep in mind, when the next bus passes by you only have a half hour left!
When you're finished looking around near Page Museum, continue on the path around Lake Pit, back toward LACMA.
As you approach LACMA, the path splits near the bust of George Page. The left side returns to the museum, so veer right on the path to remain in the open-grass area of Hancock Park. Head toward the statue of a bear.
Watch for tar if you walk or sit on the grass! There are small unprotected patches located throughout this area. Most are just a few inches in diameter, but some are larger.
Walk along the grass area until the path splits again at the Pleistocene Garden. Inside the small garden you will find signs that describe the terrain as it was long ago, when mammoths wandered the LA basin. There are samples of Coastal Sage Scrub and other plant specimens.
Cross the bridge on the left side of the Pleistocene Garden.
Fossil circled with chalk at Project 23
Staff and volunteers working on Project 23 will likely be finished for the day, but you can see what they're working on - it is usually a large chunk of tar that they break into pieces, looking for fossils. If they have located a fossil in the chunk of tar, it will be circled with bright chalk.
Near Project 23 you'll find Pit 9, where you can see bubbles arising from the fresh tar. All of the large pits are completely fenced off so there's no danger of getting stuck! But hundreds of animals weren't so lucky - dire wolves, sabre-toothed cats, deer, lions and ground sloths have been recovered from the pits.
When you're finished looking at Pit 9, continue on the path past the Dorothy Collins Brown Amphitheater.
On the other side of the Amphitheater you will see Pit 13. It's not as active as Pit 9. A sign on the fence describes the fossils found in the excavation.
Inside Observation Pit 1
Continue on the path around Pit 13, heading back toward LACMA. On your right you will see Observation Pit 1. Even if it's closed you can see the stairway that leads down, and you can see part of the bottom of the pit. It contains a shallow pool of tar with a pile of bones of dire wolves, giant sloths, sabre tooth cats, a mastodon, a camel and other animals from the Pleistocene era. It's difficult to make out any detail of the bones from the top of the stairs, although you can see them.
Continue walking on the left side of Observation Pit 1. The path leads up to the museum building (LACMA). Soon you will be inside the Los Angeles Times Central Court. Here's another opportunity to buy snacks or drinks. In addition to the Ahmanson Building, you are surrounded by the Hammer Building, Bing Center and Art of the Americas Building.
Walk along the front of the Ahmanson Building. You'll see some sculptures in the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor courtyard.
B. Gerald Cantor Sculpture Garden
Walk down the stairs into the B. Gerald Cantor Sculpture Garden where you can view artwork by Rodin. Continue walking through the sculpture garden and out the front gate.
Walk toward Wilshire Blvd and around the small wall. You are now back near the tour bus stop.
Keep your eye on the time! If the bus will arrive soon, then head to the bus stop.
Continue walking to the Urban Light sculpture. It is a collection of more than 200 streetlights arranged a grid. This is a good place to take pictures - occasionally you'll see people having their pre-wedding photos taken here.
Walk west on Wilshire Blvd (the opposite direction from Lake Pit) about 50 feet from the Urban Light sculpture. Look across the street toward the corner of Fairfax. Peterson Auto Museum is easy to locate. This is a good opportunity to take a picture of it.
Walk back to the tour bus stop. While you're waiting, check your clothes and shoes for tar :-)