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Fine Arts: TATTOO: A Wild New Exhibit at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles

Fascinating exhibits are featured in the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles TATTOO exhibit, running until April 15, 2018. Photo courtesy the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles.

By Jenny Peters

There’s a truly fascinating exhibit at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles and it has nothing to do with dinosaurs, spiders, butterflies or other critters from the world of nature. Instead, TATTOO looks at the history of the human art of tattooing, ranging from those of ancient cultures to the most modern designs.

The exhibit explores 5,000 years of the use of ink as body adornment, as well as other (often more nefarious) uses, including the marking of criminals and the use of tattoos during the Holocaust. Contemporary designs are showcased on silicone models of the human body, which are slightly disconcerting at first glance, when we took in the exhibit on opening night.

Tattoos created in silicone are part of the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles TATTOO exhibit, running until April 15, 2018. Photo courtesy the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles.

Also a bit surprising was the live tattooing happening before our eyes in the exhibit’s completely tricked-out tattoo parlor; throughout the duration of the exhibit there will be some of Los Angeles’ celebrated tattoo artists offering visitors a chance to get their own tats.

The over 125 images and objects that make up the exhibit that is presented in partnership with Sailor Jerry Spiced Rum includes the famous work of Norman “Sailor Jerry” Collins. He was a U. S. Navy veteran who built his reputation inking soldiers and sailors in WWII-era Honolulu where he established his legendary tattoo parlor. He’s known as the undisputed father of American old-school tattooing and the exhibit pays homage to his creations.

Many photos and other objects make up the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles TATTOO exhibit, running until April 15, 2018. Photo courtesy the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles.

It also focuses on the importance of the influential tattoo cultures of Southern California, from Ventura to Los Angeles to Long Beach and Orange County. But our favorite part of the show, which is currently open and runs to April 15, 2018, is the exploration into the Maori, Tahitian and other Polynesian peoples’ use of tattooing from centuries past. Fascinating – like the whole Natural History Museum of Los Angeles TATTOO exhibit. Don’t miss it.

More interesting elements from the world of tattooing, on show at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles TATTOO exhibit, running until April 15, 2018. Photo courtesy the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles.

Tickets for both museum entrance and the exhibit are $24 for adults.

The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles TATTOO exhibit runs until April 15, 2018. Photo courtesy the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles.

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About Jenny Peters (155 Articles)
<p>Jet Set Jen is the brainchild of Jenny Peters, a longtime freelance journalist whose career has spanned everything considered “Lifestyle” reporting, from movies and celebrities to fashion and fast cars, with plenty of food, wine and travel thrown in too. She currently contributes regularly to USA Today’s 10Best.com, AARP.org, New York Magazine, Coast Magazine, Bask Magazine and numerous other newspapers, magazines and websites worldwide. She is a founding and voting member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association (www.criticschoice.com), which annually honors the year’s top films with the Critics’ Choice Awards. Jenny and her crack cadre of reporters at Jet Set Jen offer up opinions, suggestions and insider scoops on the best that the world has to offer, to keep you on the cutting edge of that ever elusive pursuit of life, liberty, happiness – and fun, fun, fun.</p>