Phase 1

The Museum’s project is anchored in our responsibility to be good stewards of a respected facility, irreplaceable scientific collections, and an impressive natural setting. The project combines the Museum’s strengths with fresh new ideas that connect the indoor experience with the outdoors and provides novel ways to explore nature and science.

Through funds raised through the Centennial Campaign we will improve the Museum’s ability to educate children and adults. By way of sequential improvements to our facilities, our exhibit halls, our landscaping, paths, and walkways, we set the stage for new and strengthened programming that connects the stories we are telling through our exhibits with authentic experiences in nature.


Beautiful inside and out! Our outdoor areas are about to get even better. We’ll be adding new exhibits, updating cherished halls, telling new stories in new ways and bringing current developments in natural history to life.

BUTTERFLY PAVILION – A new, permanent pavilion to provide a year-round space not just for butterflies, but for unique programs and a world of outdoor experiences.

SANTA BARBARA GALLERY –  A new gallery to provide an in-depth look at the region through lenses of science and nature, telling the story of the physical and biological processes that shaped the Central Coast.

BIRD HABITAT HALL –   Veteran birders and fledging naturalists alike will be immersed in the sights and sounds of the Central Coast’s abundant, diverse world of birds, showcased within Ray Strong’s beautiful dioramas.

MAMMAL HALL –  These historic dioramas will be restored and upgraded. The refreshed hall will bring clear and inspiring interpretations of the modern relationship between people and the species represented in the dioramas.

CURIOSITY LAB – Currently open and always changing, this dynamic active learning gallery serves as the gateway from the indoor learning experiences to the outside world of direct engagement.


It hardly seems possible but the Museum campus is about to become even more beautiful and certainly more accessible to all. Campus-wide landscaping and way-finding will better integrate the various buildings and disparate outdoor areas into a seamless visitor path of exploration through the entire Museum. What’s more, our improvements include ADA and stroller compliant access so that all our visitors can learn, play, and explore our offerings.

THE MUSEUM BACKYARD AND NATURE CLUBHOUSE – Our natural areas are exceptional and ideally situated to provide everything from a walk in the woods to compelling nature programs for children and the parents they bring. The space will be even more accessible, thereby enhancing the opportunities for families to engage with nature. We are adding a treehouse, a refurbished Clubhouse program, an interactive “paleo dig”, rock climbing, bio-building, and more.

MUSEUM FRONT YARD – An attractive, pedestrian-safe arrival corridor will guide visitors from the parking lot, through the Blue Whale courtyard, across a new Arrival Plaza, and a final approach to the historic front entry through an entry garden.

PUESTA DEL SOL ESPLANADE –  Returning to the original 1922 design, a pedestrian path will be created along the historic stegosaurus wall at the front of the Museum, providing safe pedestrian access to Mission Canyon Road.


A fund will be dedicated to supporting pilot programs including evaluation of new and improved exhibit concepts and education programs. This fund will provide us with the tools and support we need to continue to improve on a regulate basis and keep the Museum innovating and changing gradually as time passes.