Serving Larchmont Village, Hancock Park, and the Greater Wilshire neighborhoods of Los Angeles since 2011.

Page Museum Reopening Pit 91 to Public Viewing

Photo courtesy of AP, Damian Dovarganes, photographer.
Photo courtesy of AP, Damian Dovarganes, photographer.

The George C. Page Museum at La Brea Tar Pits has opened up Pit 91 again so the public can observe paleontologists at work uncovering bones of mastodons and mammoths, fossils of flora and fauna. Visitors will have the opportunity to see Pit 91 in action if they order a timed ticket for the new Excavator Tours  that begin June 28, 2014.

Pit 91 has been closed since 2007 when the museum scientists had to redirect their attention to fossils being recovered in the dig for a new parking garage at the Los Angeles County Museum (LACMA), in Hancock Park. Of the 5 million fossils found to date by the Page, over 1 million came from Pit 91 which is still yielding finds even after being worked for 40 years.

Visitors to Pit 91 will get to watch from a viewing deck as paleontologists carefully use trowels and picks to search for and dig out the larger bones and shell remnants from the moist asphalt. They will also send buckets of the black tar to a lab to pull out the very tiny microfossils of plants and insects that tell much about the climate and ecosystems of the ancient past, some 11,000-50,000 years ago.

Lab volunteers do the majority of day-to-day preparation of fossils excavated from the park. Currently there are more than 65 volunteers, between 18 and 90 years old, who contribute about 200 hours per week to lab projects. The volunteer excavators receive preliminary training in the Fossil Lab, learn about the Pleistocene flora and fauna as well as the techniques necessary to prepare asphaltic fossils. After completing 96 hours in the lab, approved volunteers have the opportunity to roll up their sleeves and dig outside. It is a long-standing tradition that excavators provide nicknames for the fossils that they work on.

The new Excavator Tour is designed to show visitors the highlights of the museum and the park and is free with admission, but requires a timed ticket.  Book your tickets online to reserve a space. Tours begin inside the Fossil Lab, then move outdoors to the Observation Pit and Project 23. Word has it that the tours will continue only through the summer months, so get in soon.

La Brea Tar Pits Excavator Tours
The Page Museum at the La Brea Tar Pits
5801 Wilshire Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90036 (213) 763-3499
Monday-Friday: 11:30 am, 12:30 pm, 2:30 pm, and 3:30 pm
Saturday-Sunday: 11 am, 1 pm, 3 pm
The Observation Pit was designed  by architect Harry Sims and built in 1952 will be on the new Excavator Tour. Photo courtesy of the Page Museum.
The Observation Pit was designed by architect Harry Sims and built in 1952 will be on the new Excavator Tour. Photo courtesy of the Page Museum.
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Julie Grist
Julie Grist
Julie co-founded the Larchmont Buzz with fellow buzzer Mary Hawley in 2011 and served as Editor, Publisher and writer for the hive for many years until the sale of the Buzz in August 2015. She is still circling the hive as an occasional writer.

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