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Centennial Celebration

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Centennial Celebration - museum santa barbara

The Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History is celebrating its 100th birthday and a century of providing science and nature education to generations of visitors, from toddlers to seniors.

Founded in 1916 with a collection of bird eggs as the “Museum of Comparative Oology,” the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History has grown steadily to interpret other aspects of natural history. Throughout the years, the Museum has established major collections in anthropology, earth sciences, and zoology, producing major scientific works and offering educational programs to school children and adults. From the 1960s to the 1980s the Museum played a leadership role in the emerging field of environmental action when Museum scientists helped establish the Marine Mammal Stranding Network and participated in the California Condor Project. With a focus to “inspire a thirst for discovery and a passion for the natural world,” the Museum has increased its strengths in research and public education by establishing a significant collection of 3.5 million specimens and artifacts in anthropology, earth sciences, and zoology ranking high among its peers nationally and internationally. Additionally, the Museum added the Sea Center on Stearns Wharf as an off-campus facility focused specifically on our coastal and ocean environment in 1987.

To kick off the Centennial year, Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History has a host of events planned:

Share your Story
100 Years, 100 Stories

We want to hear from YOU! Tell us your most memorable experiences in connection with the Museum to help celebrate our Centennial year in 2016. You can tell your story by sending us a letter, e-mailing a video/photo or visiting our “100 Years 100 Stories” booth  at the Museum located in the Curiosity Lab.

Courtyard Timeline
Explore 100 years of highlighted Museum history in our courtyard.Timline
Left Image: 1916 - William Dawson in office
Center Image: 1931 - Einstein, Ludwig Kast, Hoffmann, Elsa, Mrs. Hoffmann
Right Image: 1965 - Ray Strong painting Laguna Lake


2017 will kick off the beginning of several key projects:

  • a new entry plaza to welcome visitors and orient them to the rich resources of our campus
  • a new permanent pavilion for the butterfly garden;
  • revitalization of three of the Museum's beloved old exhibit halls to give them new vibrancy;
  • improved way-finding signage across the whole campus;
  • landscaping work to restore native habitats and interpretation of the rich natural ecology of
    the campus;
  • improved visitor amenities, including universal access for people with disabilities.

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