Photo of the Agricultural Park Gate

Our Past

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 everyday life. 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.

1889

Previously a racetrack and fairgrounds, Exposition Park, then known as Agricultural Park, is purchased by the State of California, the County and City of Los Angles.

1912

State Exposition Building opens.

Historic photo of the State Exposition Building
Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection

1951

State Exposition Building is remodeled and becomes the California Museum of Science and Industry.

1988

Museum leadership begins strategic planning about the future of the California Museum of Science and Industry and begins developing a three-phase, 25-year master plan.

1993

The museum begins its transformation into a new kind of public institution for science learning.

1998

Phase I is complete and the California Science Center opens with a 245,000 square-foot complex, consisting of two permanent hands-on science learning galleries World of Life and Creative World, a special exhibits gallery, a conference center and IMAX Theater.

2000

After an invitation from the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum, the Science Center becomes part of the Smithsonian Institution as a Smithsonian Affiliate.

2002

A part of Phase II, the The SKETCH Foundation Gallery, Air and Space Exhibits opens, a temporary gallery featuring interactive exhibits as well as artifacts on continuing loan from NASA and The Smithsonian Institution. 

2004

The Wallis Annenberg Building for Science Learning and Innovation opens as the site for the Science Center School, grades K-5, and Amgen Center for Science Learning in the former California National Guard Armory building.

2010

Phase II is complete with the opening of Ecosystems, a permanent exhibition wing featuring nearly 400 live plant and animal species and hands-on science exhibits in 11 immersive environments.

The California Science Center today.

2011

The Science Center receives accreditation from the Association of Zoo and Aquariums (AZA), one of only 13 institutions nationwide to hold accreditation from both AZA and the American Alliance of Museums (AAM).

2012

Endeavour arrives at the Samuel Oschin Pavilion.