Ever wonder what it’s like to walk through an empty museum?
Join me and Aurelia D’Amore Photography as we take a behind the scenes look at the out of this world (and galaxy) event spaces at the California Science Center.
The California Science Center, conveniently located in the heart of Exposition Park, just south of Downtown Los Angeles is a premier event destination location. Whether you choose to host a private event before or after the Center’s public viewing hours, you and your guests will enjoy a one-of-a-kind experience—rivaled by no other!
The California Science Center dates to the first State Exposition Building, which opened in 1912 and displayed simple, agriculturally-based natural resources and industrial products from across the state. After World War II, technology-based businesses began to grow so the State Exposition Building was remodeled to show visitors the role of science and technology in (current) everyday life. Previously a racetrack and fairgrounds, Exposition Park, then known as Agricultural Park, was purchased by the State of California in 1889.
Read more about the park’s transitions in this informative KCET article.
The building was renamed the California Museum of Science and Industry in 1951 to better reflect this new objective. In 1998, the museum transformed into a new kind of public institution for science learning, the California Science Center including a full IMAX theater within the 245,000 square-foot complexes.
This museum offers a unique venue experience for corporate, non-profit, social events, and weddings ranging from two people to thousands.
If you are an LA native and this garden is looking familiar to you it’s because it the shared public space between The California Science Center and The Natural History Museum. You can read more about dinosaurs, gemstones, and special events in our behind the scenes tour of the NHMLA blog. The gardens are a perfect spot for wedding photos!
If you are anything like me, you are nutty for vintage Los Angeles architecture. The original building of The California Science Center, formerly the California National Guard Armory building during the war, is a historical gem reflecting the warm, local color palette of this turn of the century agricultural area and features quintessential California details like the steer head skull and bunches of grapes.
Can you imagine gliding down this beautiful marble staircase as natural light pours in through the skylight above? It’s the perfect spot for on first look photos on your wedding day!
In the 1970s the beautiful vintage brickwork and elaborate stone-carved details were painted! Yuck! Luckily, the paint has been painstakingly removed and it has now been lovingly restored completely back to its original glory!
Science Plaza, an outdoor space just outside the museum, showcases science through the medium of art and welcomes visitors to begin to get a sense of the one-of-a-kind experiences waiting inside for them.
In the open-air plaza, you can view artist Larry Kirkland’s The Aerial, a hanging sculpture comprised of 1,578 spheres, each covered in gold leaf and palladium leaf, and varying in size from 3 inches to 7 inches. To stand at the bottom of this installation is to truly feel like one of the stars in the galaxy!
Take a deep dive!
If water is more your thing, imagine you and your guests surrounded by the Kelp Forest tank! The aquarium at The California Science Center is a whopping 188,000 gallons and the exhibit features live animals such as leopard sharks, horn sharks, moray eels, a giant sea bass, rays, rockfish, spiny lobsters, anemones, and more!
- Kelp forests can grow to be one hundred feet tall and make tons of oxygen for nearby waters and are home to lots of different sea life.
- The Garibaldi, seen above, is the state fish of California and is protected. It’s known for its bright orange color. Gotta love that!
- The sea life inside this aquarium has been trained to be fed, by hand, daily by professional scuba divers on staff at the museum. This keeps bellies full and eliminates the need for the fish to eat each other.
California Science Center Event Spaces
From an intimate setting for 40 to an extravaganza for 4,000, at the California Science Center, you’ll find an exceptional space to host your next event!
The Wallis Annenberg Building
The Wallis Annenberg Building and its Big Lab Space, is a private venue space within the California Science Center Museum and not open to the public, and as such, has the opportunity for private events. Because this space is not open to the public on a regular basis it allows for earlier load-in for private events.
I like to think its style is somewhere between industrial modern and Star Wars space-age! It is a transformed early 20th-century armory space featuring an indoor/outdoor experimental space called the Big Lab, and a smaller conference room, the Erteszek Family Foundation Muses Room.
- Staircase to Heaven: On the left side of the Big Lab is an accessible staircase to a landing area between the first and second floors. This area can be used during a wedding or event for a DJ/MC, live music component, or a very dramatic grand entrance.
- Disco Ball Back Wall: The back wall of the Big Lab is covered in small, metal disks that flicker and glisten with movement when activated by wind. Think of it as a giant, built-in disco ball wall! Who doesn’t love that?!
The Muses Room
The Erteszek Family Foundation Muses Room was originally used as the Mess Hall for the soldiers when that building was a National Guard Armory. This large, indoor space is multi-purpose and can be used as a getting ready space, storage room during and event, or even an indoor cocktail hour area while The Big Lab space is being flipped from ceremony to dinner reception.
The open-air bamboo garden, located on the second floor of the Big Lab overlooking the reflective pool, could act as an intimate wedding or elopement space as well as a meandering area for guests during cocktail hour. Full of tall bamboo, tropical greenery, and running water, the bamboo garden is a tranquil surprise in the center of the city. In fact, the juniper and bamboo trees are used to cover approximately 10,000 square feet of space immersing you in greenery. The roof, while sun coverage, is open-air and not rainproof. But truly, not something we have to worry too much about in Los Angeles!
This unique venue hosts a reflective pool, wind wall, and bamboo garden with a pond. It’s the perfect, highly “green” venue for large guest experiences with max Seating of 600 and Max Standing of 1,000 people.
While they are not guest-facing spaces, it’s important to note that The California Science Center has a large getting ready room with a rolling rack and seating for brides and/or grooms and wedding parties as well as a prep kitchen and huge additional kitchen built out space in the loading dock for catering set up. Two very important spaces for any wedding planner to be aware of!
The California Science Center offers an unconditional welcome to all our guests and sets the highest level of individual service and institutional integrity. Following all ADA requirements, the Science Center is accessible and enjoyable for everyone. The California Science Center is wheelchair accessible as well as accessible by elevator, escalator, or stairs.
The Science Center is open to the public seven days a week, 362 days per year, with free general admission to its permanent exhibit galleries. How can they do this? Through donors and special events that help to fund this free and welcoming education to children of all ages! You can feel good about hosting your wedding or event at The California Science Center knowing that it goes back into the museum to help keep free education alive!
Let’s get Spacey!
Samuel Oschin Pavilion
Host your wedding in the Samuel Oshin Pavilion where your guest can literally dine and dance under a real-life space shuttle!
For an out-of-this-world event experience, the Samuel Oschin Pavilion is the perfect space to launch your event to new heights. Home of the iconic orbiter, Space Shuttle Endeavour.
Endeavour successfully completed 25 missions into space, including the first service mission to the Hubble Space Telescope, as well as the first mission to add a U.S. component to the International Space Station.
After more than twenty organizations submitted proposals to NASA for the display of an orbiter, NASA announced that Endeavour would go to the California Science Center in Los Angeles. This is a one of a kind opportunity!
The capacity of the Samuel Oschin Pavilion is 800 people for a seated event and 1,000 for standing/cocktail-style events.
- The Endeavour spent 299 days, 3 hours, 34 minutes, 2 seconds in space.
- In 2012, after a flight across the country on the back of a 747 and a momentous journey through the streets of Los Angeles and Inglewood, space shuttle Endeavour, seen below, arrives at the California Science Center to make a new home within Samuel Oschin Pavilion.
- Endeavour is the only shuttle to have been named by children as a part of a NASA contest with schools.
Guests who come to see Endeavour often notice that the flag on the starboard side of the orbiter appears to be “backwards.” But tradition (and an interpretation of the U.S. Flag Code) suggests that the blue field on the flag should always be pointed forward, into the wind, as if the flag were flying on a flagpole in the breeze. The flag is painted the same way on many aircraft, such as Air Force One.
The Big(ger) Picture!
The Samuel Oschin Air and Space Center is in the works to dramatically expand the footprint and impact of the California Science Center, adding 200,000 square feet of space for exhibits, events, and educational programs. It will include three multi-level galleries – Air, Space, and Shuttle – spanning four floors and covering 100,000 square feet of exhibit space. When finished at the end of this 25-year master plan, the California Science Center will be the largest science center in the western United States.
Behind The Scenes
On display throughout the Air & Space exhibit in the museum are spacesuits, spacecraft, modules, capsules as well as who aircraft themselves!
Thank you to The California Science Center for this behind the scenes looks at all the possibilities this unique (and historical) museum venue has to offer. If you have more questions or would like additional information about booking an event, please contact:
(L) Chris Sion firstname.lastname@example.org
(R) Sophie Westacott SWestacott@californiasciencecenter.org
We will see you again next time for another great venue adventure!