Landmark mural comes to Natural History Museum of Los Angeles

An 80-foot mural recounting the history of Los Angeles will soon be displayed in its entirety, for the first time ever, at the Natural History Museum of L.A.

The mural depicts many of L.A.'s historical figures and events, both good and bad.

Artist and muralist Barbara Carrasco said, "Years ago when I painted this mural, I had no idea it would receive so much controversial response."

It was 1981 when Barbara Carrasco created the landmark panoramic fresco that features a series of vignettes woven into the flowing hair of "la reina de Los Angeles," or "queen of LA." Among the most controversial scenes is a depiction of the Japanese internment. Critics claimed the Japanese didn't want to be reminded of such a sad part of their history.

Carrasco remembers the backlash clearly. She said, "My immediate response was, well, let's go and ask them, since no one here is Japanese,' so that's what I did. I sought out three major Japanese organizations, and they wrote wonderful letters of support. In the letters, they say really plainly that this is a sad chapter in their history but it has to be included in the mural so that it's a constant reminder of something that should never be repeated."

Critics also objected to Carrasco including the image of Mexican outlaw Tiburcio Vasquez.

Carrasco said, "He was considered like a robin-hood character so he would rob from rich people and give to poor people. So, he's in there because he was in L.A. a lot. And then Biddy Mason -- I was very surprised they objected to Biddy Mason. She was the last black slave in L.A."

In the mid-1850's Bridget "Biddy" Mason, aware of the anti-slavery laws in California, petitioned for her freedom in court and won.

"She became a really great, inspirational lady, founded the First AME church here in L.A., became a large landowner," said Carrasco.

You can see the mural, titled "LA History: A Mexican Perspective," at the the Natural History Museum of L.A. from March 9 through Aug.18.
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