Reimagine La Brea Tar Pits

La Brea Tar Pits Mammoth image

La Brea Tar Pits

A scientific marvel right in the heart of L.A.

The Tar Pits is one of the most important paleontological localities in the world and the only active excavation site in a major city. With more than 5 million fossils already unearthed, it’s an unparalleled record of the last major episode of global climate change. Understanding what happened in the past will be key to finding solutions to our current climate crisis, and preparing for our future.  

And it's all right here on Wilshire Blvd., where millions of people can easily access it. Yet, because the Tar Pits were built more than 40 years ago, today the site lacks the necessary facilities for modern-day scientific research, like accessible collections storage and chemistry labs. This inhibits the research that could be—and should be—done.

A new vision by Weiss/Manfredi

In 2019, through a series of public meetings and surveys, the community helped select the renowned architecture and design firm Weiss/Manfredi. Weiss/Manfredi captured the public’s imagination with its approach to unify the disjointed elements of the 13-acre site—the Lake Pit, the historic excavation pits, the park, and museum—through a 1-kilometer looping pedestrian walkway.

Designing for sustainability, science and community

At the heart of the plan is a promise that La Brea Tar Pits will remain inclusive and accessible to everyone, with new public amenities like picnic areas and playgrounds, and enhanced public greenspace for the community.

Highlights include:

La Brea Tar Pits Museum Research Gallery

Visible Fossil Lab

The new design will offer visitors a peek into the active scientific research happening each day at the museum at La Brea Tar Pits.

Pit 91 Rendering

Engaging and Educational Excavations Sites

The new, shaded outdoor classroom at Pit 91 and improved visibility of excavations throughout the park will enable visitors to share in real-time the scientific discoveries that are happening right underneath their feet.

La Brea Tar Pits Reimagining Wilshire Gateway Entry Plaza

Welcoming Shaded Entryways

A new shaded entry plaza at the corner of Wilshire Blvd. and Curson Ave. will welcome visitors in with framed views of the Pleistocene Garden bioswale, sculptures, and more. Another shaded canopy will allow entry from 6th Street.

La Brea Tar Pits Reimagining Central Lawn Rendering

Preserving and Enhancing Green Space

With green space so vital, our Central Green will be enhanced for public recreation with picnic and play areas while preserving the beloved grass slopes. Climate-appropriate native plantings that support wildlife will be featured throughout the park.

Rendering of exhibition hall La Brea Tar Pits

New Exhibition Building

The new Exhibition Building will serve as a dynamic setting for active programming with new exhibition space, a theatre and multipurpose room, and a film screening area.

Tar Bar Cropped

New Terrace and Public Destination: Tar Bar

The new terrace extends to create a public destination featuring incredible views. A ramp will ensure the rooftop terrace is accessible to every visitor.

Check back for updates in the coming weeks and months!

La Brea Tar Pits Master Plan Site Plan