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Monday, November 19 , 2018, 1:20 pm | Fair with Haze 65º

 
 
 
 

Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History Undergoing Major Renovation

A $20 million, 5-year capital campaign is underway to fund the 8-month construction project

An artist’s rendering shows the new, permanent Butterfly Pavilion at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History. Construction is slated to begin this month and continued through May 2018. The museum will remain open throughout the renovation process. Click to view larger
An artist’s rendering shows the new, permanent Butterfly Pavilion at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History. Construction is slated to begin this month and continued through May 2018. The museum will remain open throughout the renovation process. (Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History photo)

The Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History has been gathering research and offering guests of all ages a chance to discover nature for 101 years.

People visiting the 17-acre campus will walk into an upgraded facility come next spring.

The museum has launched a $20 million, 5-year capital campaign to raise funds for improvements that support beautification efforts to educational exhibits focusing on the regional natural history.

Museum President and CEO Luke Swetland said this week that more than 160 community donors pledged a financial commitment to the campaign, reaching nearly 85 percent of the goal.

”We looked at the renovation, restoration and revitalization of significant parts throughout the museum — both indoor and outdoor,” Swetland said. “With the centennial last year, it was the perfect time to invite the community to reflect on the institution’s importance and invite the community to reinvest in the museum, so that we are alive and thriving for another century.”

Friday marks the start of the 8-month construction timeline. The improved galleries are expected to open Memorial Day of next year, Swetland said.

The museum at 2559 Puesta Del Sol will remain open during the overhaul.

“The museum is not closed, and the majority of it will remain open,” Swetland said. “We are creating new programming and opportunities, so visitors have exciting reasons to continue to come back.” 

Project areas include a new, permanent exhibit for outdoor programs, and a multi-use space showcasing free-flying butterflies in the Butterfly Pavilion.

The Mammal Hall will recieve new taxidermy, get new lighting, and the specimens will be given makeovers. The Bird Habitat Hall, focusing on the Central Coast's avian population, will receive new lighting and interpretive techniques.

“We aren’t fundamentally destroying the Bird Habitat Hall or Mammal Hall, but we are making it better than the day it opened,” Swetland said. “This is about the visitor's experience. With all of the improvements, the visitors will have a much more unified experience of the campus.”

New enhancements to the museum’s Backyard and Nature Clubhouse will provide space for outdoor education and exploration.

A new exhibit named the Santa Barbara Gallery will highlight the nature and science that makes the Central Coast a vibrant region. 

“We want the museum to be a starting place for the exploration of nature,” Swetland said.

Other upgrades include landscape renovations, pathway improvements to bring the museum into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, pedestrian access along the stegosaurus wall at the front of the building, and improvements aiming at helping guests walk safely from the parking lot to the museum entrance.

“There is no more walking in the middle of the street to get to the museum's front door,” Swetland said.

Visit www.sbnature.org or call the museum’s development office at 805.682.4711 ext. 110 to take part in the renovation effort.

“There are still opportunities for the community to invest in the museum’s project at every level,” Swetland said. “This place is woven into the DNA of Santa Barbara. Everybody should want to be a part of having their name and legacy built into the institution going forward.”

Noozhawk staff writer Brooke Holland can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

An artist rendering shows the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History’s Mammal South exhibit renovation. Click to view larger
An artist rendering shows the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History’s Mammal South exhibit renovation. (Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History photo)

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