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.


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 Angeles.


State Exposition Building opens.

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


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


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.


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


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.


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.


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. 


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.


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.

Science Center building at night

The California Science Center today.


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


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 arrives at the California Science Center's Samuel Oschin Pavilion.


Following an eventful 4,400 nautical mile journey from NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans, Louisiana to Marina del Rey, California, ET-94, the last remaining Space Shuttle external tank, was transported through the streets of Inglewood and Los Angeles to the California Science Center.


The California Science Center marks its 20th Anniversary since opening to the public in 1998 as a reinvention of the California Museum of Science and Industry.