In January 2016, the Santa Barbara Museum of natural History will celebrate 100 years of serving the Santa Barbara community. The Museum was founded in 1916 by William Leon Dawson as the “Museum of Comparative Oology.” In 1923, thanks to Dr. Caroline Hazard and Mrs. Rowland Hazard, the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History opened its doors at the current campus. In 1987, the Museum added the Sea Center on Stearns Wharf as an off-campus facility focused specifically on our coastal and ocean environment.
||Mission Canyon Campus: 2559 Puesta del Sol, Santa Barbara, CA 93105
A cluster of Spanish Revival-style buildings comprising 87,000 s.f. of space, set on 17 acres of riparian oak woodland along Mission Creek.
Ty Warner Sea Center: 211 Stearns Wharf, Santa Barbara, CA 93101
A modern 6,000 s.f. building located on historic Stearns Wharf, built on wharf space leased from the City of Santa Barbara.
||The Museum serves the southern and central coast of California, including the counties of Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, and Ventura. Museum and Sea Center visitors are comprised of local and regional residents and national and international tourists. In addition, the two facilities serve approximately 19,500 K-12 students annually and 45,000 students off-site through its Nature Collections lending library. The Museum is a center of the community. We maintain a diversity of programs to serve community needs and provide our facilities and grounds as a gathering place for a wide array of community groups and events.
||Mission Canyon Campus:
- Eight halls of permanent exhibits, totaling 15,800 s.f.
- Two halls for changing exhibits (Luria & Maximus), totaling 2,700 s.f.
- Five outdoor exhibits: Blue Whale skeleton; Nature Trail; “Sukinanik’oy” ethnobotanical garden; Butterfly Pavilion, and The Museum Backyard.
Ty Warner Sea Center:
Other Public Program Facilities:
- 3,000 s.f. exhibit space, some of it flexible for temporary exhibit use.
||More than three million artifacts and specimens in the fields of anthropology, archaeology, vertebrate and invertebrate biology, geology and paleontology, art, library, and archives. The collections are an archive of changes in nature and culture over time that preserves our natural and cultural legacy and constitutes an indispensable tool for natural history research. The collections are used by 14 Museum scientists and colleagues from around the world.
||The research conducted advances our understanding of the natural world and the human place within it. While focused mostly on local and regional questions, the research is conducted within a worldwide perspective and is of global interest. Results are disseminated locally and internationally through articles in peer-reviewed journals, books, papers presented at conferences, and presentations to general audiences.
||The Museum maintains a diverse set of educational programs for all age levels from pre-school children through adults and senior citizens. The high impact of the educational programs derives from the involvement of the Museum’s scientists and the power of hands-on nature experiences. The educational programs aim at generating a broad based understanding of nature and ecological systems, and producing scientifically literate citizens who are competitive in a globalized world.
- Mission Canyon campus total annual attendance in 2012: 155,300
- Ty Warner Sea Center total annual attendance in 2012: 95,343
- School attendance at both campuses in 2012: 19,500 students participated in 35,500 school programs
- School children served off-site through the Nature Collection lending library in 2012: ca. 45,000
||Both the Museum and Sea Center are open daily from 10:00 AM–5:00 PM (except New Year's Day, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas Day.
The Museum is closed to the general public on the last Saturday of June for the annual Santa Barbara Wine Festival™.
- Museum Admission: Members are free; non-members $12/adult (18–64), $8/senior (65+); $8/teen (13–17); $7/child (2–12); children under 2 years are free. Summer admission (usually mid May through mid September) may differ.
- Sea Center Admission: Members free; non-members $8/adult (18–64), $7/senior (65+); $7/teen (13–17) $7; $5/child (2–12); children under 2 years are free.
Board of Trustees, three-year terms, once renewable.
Palmer G. Jackson, Jr.,
Luke J. Swetland,
President & CEO
Larry Friesen, Ph.D.
Stephen M. Hicks
Dennis Power, Ph.D.
Norman F. Sprague III, M.D.
Bruce Tiffney, Ph.D.
David H. Anderson
Joan T. Seaver Kurze
Alexander M. Power
Brooke E. Sawyer, Jr.
50 full-time staff; 46 part-time, temporary staff.
Nearly 1,000 volunteers
The Museum is a private, nonprofit organization that relies on a variety of funding sources which enable us to share our collections, exhibits, and education program with thousands of visitors, school children, and scientists each year.
2012 operating budget: $5.3 million
- Operating revenues: ca. 40% income from endowment
- 30% earned revenues (gate, membership dues, fees)
- 30% contributed revenues (gifts, grants)