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Community Roots: Selections from the Local Legacies Project
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Space docking simulator
Space Docking Simulator Photo courtesy California Science Center

California Science Center

The California Science Center in Los Angeles is designed to stimulate and nurture interest in science, math, and technology. Founded on the premise that science is at the core of modern life, the center is the result of ten years of planning by a creative team of top scientists, educators, and designers. In 1998, Phase 1 of the California Science Center opened in a new three-level building in Exposition Park. In its first year, the center received two million visitors. Two additional phases, which will provide exhibits focused on Pacific Rim ecosystems and the universe, are expected to be completed by 2010.

Center exhibits are presented in thematic and interactive "worlds." Through hands-on experiences, visitors learn about the planet, life on earth, and human innovations. Programs are designed for children, families, adults, school groups, and educators. The Weingart Special Exhibits Gallery showcases prominent traveling exhibits developed by the center and other museums several times a year. The center's overall purpose is to create lifelong memories and to motivate visitors to pursue further learning.

The roots of the California Science Center reach back to 1872, when the Southern District Agricultural Society purchased 160 acres of land in what is today Los Angeles. The private corporation composed of local business people and ranchers sought to promote agricultural interests among local producers and stockmen through exhibitions of livestock, field crops, and farm equipment at "Agriculture Park." Because of financial difficulty, the state of California took possession of the park in 1880, and planned to develop it as a cultural center for the growing community. The State Exposition Building, which was completed in 1912 for permanent exhibition of products and resources for all California counties, became the centerpiece of the renovated park, renamed Exposition Park.

Following World War II, the State Exposition Building, which had focused on agricultural related displays, closed and reopened as the California Museum of Science and Industry (CMSI), dedicated to a broad concept of educational exhibits that could introduce and explain principles of science to a wide audience. The museum evolved over the years, creating lively "story telling" exhibits. The museum's goal was to dramatize contemporary science for people of all ages and to encourage human capabilities. New wings were added for math, economics and finance, and aviation.. Exhibits were created by world famous scientists, designers, and architects, such as Charles Eames. In 1984, an IMAX theater was added.

Documentation comprises a catalog, an explorers guide, two videos, and grand opening memorabilia.

Originally submitted by: Julian C. Dixon, Representative (32nd District).

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The Local Legacies project provides a "snapshot" of American Culture as it was expressed in spring of 2000. Consequently, it is not being updated with new or revised information with the exception of "Related Website" links.

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