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Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History Awarded $155,000 in Grants

Children get up close with sharks at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History Sea Center.

Children get up close with sharks at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History Sea Center.  (Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History photo)

By Valeria Velasco for the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History |

The Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History was recently awarded $155,000 in grants from the Walter J. and Holly O. Thomson Foundation and the Hutton Parker Foundation to support the museum’s Centennial Campaign, Sea Center and Butterflies Alive! exhibit.

The Hutton Parker Foundation awarded $30,000 to support costs associated with the installation of the California Coastal Immersion Zone interactive exhibit, scheduled to open in late fall at the Sea Center.

“We are grateful for Hutton Parker Foundation’s generous donation to the Sea Center,” said Amanda Allen, director of the Sea Center. “This donation helps us continue to provide opportunities for children and families to get involved in marine science and have a direct and meaningful engagement with nature.”

The Walter J. and Holly O. Thomson Foundation also awarded a generous $125,000 to the museum. The bulk of the grant will support the museum’s Centennial Campaign, which will help fund exhibit upgrades, sequential gallery renovations, and improved walkways and landscaping. In addition, the grant will also support the museum’s beloved Butterflies Alive! exhibit, which is now open through Sept. 7.

“We are deeply appreciative of the Walter J. and Holly O. Thomson Foundation’s generous leadership gift to the Centennial Campaign,” President/CEO Luke Swetland said. “This donation serves as an important endorsement for others in our community. We are profoundly grateful for the Foundation’s commitment to the museum.”

Founded in 1916, the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History reconnects more than 150,000 people each year (including its 5,700 members) to nature indoors and outdoors. Uniquely nestled in nature, the museum is located along Mission Creek in the Mission Canyon area. The museum has 10 indoor exhibit halls focusing on regional natural history including astronomy, birds, insects, geology, mammals, marine life, paleontology, plant life and the Chumash Indians. In addition, the museum is home to the only full-dome planetarium on the Central Coast, a research library and the John & Peggy Maximus Art Gallery.

The museum’s outdoor exhibit experiences include a nature trail, the Chumash Sukinanik’oy Garden, the Museum Backyard & Nature Club House, the Butterfly Pavilion, and a real 74-foot Blue Whale skeleton. The museum’s outdoor nature experience continues down to the Pacific Ocean at its Sea Center located on the historic Stearns Wharf. The Sea Center offers nearly 90,000 visitors a window to ocean life in the Santa Barbara Channel through its interactive exhibits and close-up, hands-on encounters with sea creatures.

Beyond exhibitions, the museum offers science education programs for adults and children, preserves a collection of more than three million specimens and artifacts, and maintains ongoing scientific research. The museum’s mission is to inspire a thirst for discovery and a passion for the natural world.

Click here for more information about the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History.

— Valeria Velasco is a marketing coordinator for the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History.




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