Natural History of Horror Now Open at Natural History Museum LA

When it comes to scary movies I’m pretty much a wimp. I refuse to see horror movies and though I’m a huge classic film fan I’m never going to see The Shining. But there are some monster movies I can handle and, yes, a few do co-star Abbott and Costello. Essentially, I love a good Universal Monster… Dracula, Frankenstein, the Mummy…these guys are just the right amount of scary for me. So when I was invited to visit a new exhibition that features them in particular at Natural History Museum LA called Natural History of Horror I practically jumped at the chance (and that’s out of excitement not fear).

Natural History of Horror focuses on four Universal Monsters – Dracula, Frankenstein, the Mummy and Creature from the Black Lagoon. Now, you may be thinking “what does a natural history museum have to do with monster movies?” It turns out a lot. Natural History Museum LA not only is devoted to the sciences but also history and culture, particularly when it pertains to Los Angeles, and has an extensive archive of film artifacts. In fact, Universal first donated horror props in 1935 and some are on display in the exhibit.

Of course, science can’t be ignored completely so the props are displayed with natural artifacts that relate to their subject matter. Above we seen a prop bat from 1931’s Dracula displayed next natural to specimens from the museum’s collection. Additional displays connect the film to the history of vampires and how deadly diseases may have inspired the myth.

1932’s The Mummy was inspired by the discovery of King Tut’s tomb and props from this film are displayed along authentic Egyptian artifacts. The remaining films, 1931’s Frankenstein and 1954’s Creature from the Black Lagoon also have displays that connect the myths of the films to the natural world.

The exhibit aims to educate as well as entertain and boy is it entertaining! Film clips are shown on a big screen, fun props abound and there are several interactive elements. For instance the lever above may seem to be just a prop but if you pull it something “electrifying” happens. I don’t want to give it away but it’s a lot of fun.

Natural History of Horror is a small exhibition but it sure packs a punch. In fact, it’s an absolute delight and just perfect for this time of year.  But if you can’t make it before Halloween don’t stress because it runs through April 19, 2020. And through the coming months there are some fun activities planned including screenings of all the films. Anyone up for a Valentine’s Day viewing of Creature from the Black Lagoon?


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