Museum breaking ground on ‘Centennial Campaign’ improvements

Ludwig Kast and Museum Director Ralph Hoffman stand with Dr. Albert Einstein and his wife Elsa, and Mrs. Ralph Hoffman in front of the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History in 1931.

SBFLM Staff Report

September marked a major milestone in the impressive history of a local museum that knows a thing or two about history.

In 2016, the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History celebrated 100 years of inspiring a thirst for discovery and a passion for the natural world. To ensure the next century of service to the community starts off on the right foot – or fin, wing or paw, depending on which area of the museum you happen to be in – the museum has a number of renovations lined up as part of Phase I of its Centennial Campaign Project, which will include some major exhibit revitalization, campus improvements and some new features.

All of this was set into motion on Sept. 8, when the museum hosted the project’s official groundbreaking celebration.

“We couldn’t be more excited about these improvements,” said Luke J. Swetland, the museum’s president and CEO. “These renovations will provide a more dynamic, memorable experience for our guests, and will help further educate the community about the relationship between humans and the natural environment.”

Phase I upgrades include improvements to the museum’s popular Backyard and Nature Clubhouse, enhancement of some of their most cherished exhibits, including the Cartwright, Mammal, and Bird Halls, and a complete transformation of the Butterfly Pavilion.

In addition to the new and improved exhibits, there will also be major campus-wide improvements, including upgrades to landscaping and paths to create a more integrated experience for visitors, complete with ADA and stroller-compliant access to all areas. Visitors can also look forward to an attractive, pedestrian-safe arrival corridor and a new pedestrian path along the historic stegosaurus wall, providing safe access to Mission Canyon Road.

The museum will remain open during all phases of construction, and special areas are being created to ensure that it remains a vibrant destination for both local and out-of-town visitors of all ages.

“The public portion of our capital campaign for the renovation of the museum also kicks off in September 2017; there is still time to get involved and help support this exciting and unique project,” said Swetland. “Thanks to the generous support of our donors, we have reached 84 percent of our $20 million campaign goal to date. There are a number of ways for local community members and businesses to get involved and push this project across the finish line, including naming opportunities for many of our new exhibits and visitor areas.”

If you would like to be a part of the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History’s renovation efforts, or are interested in following along with the progress, visit www.sbnature.org or call the museum’s development office at (805) 682-4711, ext. 110.