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Nature Education

-Curiosity Lab
-Nature Collection Specimen Lending Library
-Museum Backyard & Nature Club House

  Nature Education
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A large majority of children today grow up with little or no direct experience of nature, a disconnection that poses serious problems in the intellectual, social, physical, and psychological development of these children. This widespread disconnect from nature has been coined as “nature deficit disorder”.

The over-riding goal of the Nature Education Department is to reconnect both children and adults to the natural world. The Museum offers a variety of program and exhibits to support this movement, which include:

Outdoor Nature Exploration (ONE) school programs for grades Kindergarten through 5th grade. Students explore and closely observe the various habitats along Mission Creek where science comes to life, right in the Museum's own Backyard.

To learn more about ONE and other school program offerings, please check out the School and Teacher Services webpage.

Family Nature Days: The Museum offers free admission on the 3rd Sunday of each month between September through May (does not include June through August). This includes all-day access to the Backyard and Nature Club House.

Curiosity Lab

The Curiosity Lab is an interactive space for guests to ask questions to a live naturalist, bring in specimens, and connect the natural world to the Museum. The space is consistently changing with new activities and programming, and is run by a staff of naturalists.

Visit the Curiosity Lab webpage for Curiosity Lab updates and activities.


The Museum Backyard

The Museum Backyard consists of enhanced areas of the riparian woodland along Mission Creek as a space for exploratory introduction to aspects of nature either through unstructured  play or through structured educational activities.

Over the years, the Museum Backyard has become a popular place for people of all ages to experience a sense of wonder and curiosity through investigation and play in a natural setting.

The Nature Club House

The Nature Club House was opened in The Museum Backyard to further promote the  exploration and understanding of nature. The Club House features natural objects and live  insects and other small critters of Santa Barbara and beyond as a means of introducing  visitors to the natural world around them.

Open hours change weekly for the Club House based on staff and volunteer availability.  Please check the Backyard webpage for more information on open hours.


Nature Collection Specimen Lending Library

The Nature Collection is an educational specimen and materials loan service that offers a wide array of resource materials for the public and educators to use in their classrooms. To learn more and discover membership options, head to the Nature Collection Specimen Lending Library homepage.



Program runs daily from 10:30-11:30AM, no sign-ups required, walk-ins are welcome.

Free with admission

Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History
Museum Backyard

Join a Naturalist and dig into the world of bugs, literally! Use tools, magnifiers and ID guides to discover a variety of invertebrates found in the Museum's mulch pile. You can even bring your bug discovery to the Curiosity Lab and look at its details on the big screen connected to our microscope.  


BranchOut: Nature Escape Room Events:

  • The Great Mammoth Hunt
    July 16, 23 and August 5, 6, 19, 20
  • The Biosphere Project
    July 30 and August 12, 13

10:00–11:00 AM
11:30–12:30 PM
1:00–2:00 PM
2:30–3:30 PM
4:00–5:00 PM

BranchOut designs activities that give kids an experience in nature they will never forget. Modeled off the popular “escape room” movement, games are brought to life where kids are the heroes on a quest to solve an environmental mission before time runs out. Participants must work together to solve puzzles and challenges, exploring nature and the great outdoors for clues.

Guardians are encouraged to participate with their child in this family event; all participating guardians/adults must also reserve a spot when signing up.

Members $12; non-members $18
Space is limited. Pre-registration required.

Sign up at


Leave No Child Inside: Santa Barbara & Children and Nature Network

The Museum is a part of Leave No Child Inside: Santa Barbara a collaboration of organizations and individuals building a movement to reconnect our kids to nature.

The goal of Leave No Child Inside: Santa Barbara is to reverse the societal trend of the past three decades in which children and youth have become disconnected from direct experience in the outdoors in their everyday lives.

The regional collaborative is part of the larger national Children & Nature Network started by Richard Louv. The Museum is proud to represent our region at the annual Children and Nature Network conference.

To find out more about the Leave No Child Inside: Santa Barbara movement as well as activities and resources for nature exploration in the region, visit

To find out more about the Children & Nature Network, visit

For resources to start your own Family Nature Club, click here


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