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Friday, December 14 , 2018, 5:18 pm | Partly Cloudy 59º

 
 
 
 

Museum Reopens Mammal, Bird Halls and New Gallery

Humans, nature and history intersect in revitaized exhibits

New taxidermy, new foliage, and touchable interactive exhibits part of museum revamp.
New taxidermy, new foliage, and touchable interactive exhibits part of museum revamp. (Museum of Natural History)

Following 10 months of transformation supported by the Museum of Natural History's $20 million Centennial Campaign, the first of two grand reopenings will happen Saturday, June 2, when the Mammal Hall, Bird Hall and Bird Habitat Hall reopen to the public.

Historic specimens have been refreshed by specialists who put in new taxidermy, new foliage, and touchable interactive exhibits. The museum has also added new dioramas that engage visitors in a conversation about the closeness of nature and the place of humans in it.

Diorama experts, taxidermists, fabricators, painters and Hollywood prop-makers all put their artistry to the cause. As a result, the new incarnations of these exhibits honor their heritage while better serving visitors.

Cartwright Hall will reopen as the Santa Barbara Gallery, which focuses on how geography and climate come together to create the unique ecosystems of the Santa Barbara region.

These conditions give rise to extraordinary biodiversity, and the space highlights the species interactions that result.

As with the dioramas in the revitalized Mammal Hall, the Santa Barbara Gallery explores the dynamics of natural systems in the local region and how human actions impact those systems. The new gallery serves as a visitor’s field guide to the Santa Barbara region.

Exhibits in all the updated halls are now better-equipped to address the important environmental issues on the minds of museum visitors.

Technology has been strategically implemented in ways that allow for greater flexibility in disseminating new media to keep pace with science.

The museum has continued to expand its corps of volunteer docents. This summer, docents will be available at various times in the galleries to be naturalist guides for visitors.

Outside, the museum has improved access by building a pedestrian-safe, ADA and stroller-compliant arrival corridor. The corridor guides visitors from the parking lot to the historic front entry via the Blue Whale courtyard and a walkway surrounded by geological and paleontological wonders.

On the other side of the entrance, a new pedestrian path parallel to the historic Hazard Estate wall along Puesta del Sol provides safe access between the museum and Mission Canyon Road, in homage to the original 1922 design.

“Everything we have done in the Centennial Project is meant to revitalize the museum, to honor the past and make it new,” said Luke Swetland, museum president/CEO.

“I think when folks see their ‘new’ museum, they will be quite pleased that we preserved the very best of our proud legacy but have lead it into a brighter future,” he said.

The museum’s second grand reopening will be in August when the redesigned backyard and Club House reopen.

The signature piece of the Centennial Project will be the new pavilion that will be home to butterflies every summer, and available for many other uses during the rest of the year.

The museum intends to have its Butterflies Alive! experience open later this summer, even if for only a few weeks.

In addition to the newly transformed spaces, the museum offers its summer exhibition of 50 Greatest Photographs of National Geographic, open now through Sept. 3. The photo display is organized and traveled by National Geographic Society.

The museum is open daily 10 a.m.-5 p.m. For more information about the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, visit www.sbnature.org.

— Briana Sapp Tivey for Museum of Natural History.

 

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