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President & CEO: Luke Swetland
Board Chair: Elisabeth Fowler
Founded: 1916
Members: 5,500

The Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History inspires a thirst for discovery and a passion for the natural world.

Guiding Principles

1. Inspiring an Awe for Nature and a Thirst for Discovery
The Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History aims to spark curiosity and ignite a passion for nature. We strive to expand our understanding of the natural world, share the process of discovery, and communicate the interconnectedness of all species.

The spirit of discovery drives our research, exhibits, and educational programs. We encourage involvement by making science fun and accessible, inspiring our audiences to explore the vast mysteries of nature.

2. Promoting Sustainability
The Museum promotes the preservation of the Earth's natural systems as an urgent priority and fosters a sense of collective responsibility, necessary for maintaining biodiversity and for the well-being of our own species.

We embrace sustainability as a critical element in all we do. We recognize that society's long term success requires an understanding and respect for nature's limits, and we strive to lead by example, illuminating the connections between research, policy and personal responsibility.

3. Connecting Our Communities
The Museum is a community resource and a welcoming, accessible center for community engagement. We use the full range of the human experience to reach and connect people of all ages and backgrounds, transcending geographic, economic, and cultural boundaries.

We pursue a broad web of relationships and partnerships to facilitate communication and mutual understanding, leveraging our resources and technology to bring the Museum into the lives of the widest possible range of professional and community groups.


  • Mission Canyon Campus: Located on eleven oak-shaded acres in Mission Canyon, the Museum campus features a cluster of Spanish Revival-style buildings in a beautiful park-like setting.
  • Sea Center: Located on historic Stearns Wharf, the Sea Center offers a window on ocean life in the Santa Barbara Channel through fun, interactive experiences.

The Mission Canyon campus features twelve exhibit halls focusing on regional natural history (birds, insects, mammals, marine life, paleontology), Native Americans, and antique natural history art. In addition there is a life-size Blue Whale skeleton, an ethnobotanic garden featuring plants used by the Chumash Indians, a planetarium, and a museum store. Programs throughout the year include lectures, performances, festivals, and family programs.

The Sea Center features engaging, interactive exhibits and aquaria that invite visitors to explore the ocean environment and to discover the fun in science and the wonders of the natural world.

The Museum serves the southern and central coast of California, including the counties of Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, and Ventura. The City of Santa Barbara is home to 89,000 people. It has a large Hispanic population and an active Native American community. The city is a popular tourist destination. Museum and Sea Center visitors are comprised of local and regional residents and national and international tourists. In addition, the two facilities serve approximately 20,000 K-12 students annually and 45,000 students off-site through its Nature Collection lending library.

Of Interest
The Museum preserves extensive natural history collections of more than three million objects used for research by a staff of 14 curators as well as visiting scientists from around the world. The Museum is the largest repository of Chumash Indian artifacts in the world. It maintains a worldwide collection of mollusks, important regional collections of vertebrate animals (particularly mammals and birds) and beetles, and a very significant collection of antique natural history art.



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