To inspire and educate through regional collections and to promote the discovery and appreciation of the natural world.

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    A Brief History of The Natural History Museum of Santa Maria

    The Natural History Museum, Santa Maria was incorporated as a non-profit in September of 1996. The Mission of the Museum was “To establish an environment for the interpretation of the natural world available for all who wish to experience it. To provide exhibits, education and the opportunity for research in the Santa Maria Valley which will inspire a respect for nature and the environment.”
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    The original non-profit while called a “Museum” did not have a collection or location. The project began with encouragement from the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History. Their 3rd grade Birds in Your Backyard Curriculum was adapted and circulated free of charge in the Santa Maria elementary schools along with all the supplies needed to do 14 daily experiments. This became The Natural History Museum’s first traveling nature kit. The Museum hired a naturalist, Caroline Woods, to travel to the classrooms at the conclusion of the curriculum to conclude the lesson and introduce the students to “live” birds. (usually a rehabilitated Great Horned Owl)

    The second educational kit established was in partnership with the L.A. County Museum of Natural History. It was called Wee Beasties and was an insect-based curriculum. An insect zoo was purchased and place in the care of the local Discovery Museum as the “live” element.

    Rocks and Fossils was the final kit developed with the partnership support of the Petroleum Engineering Society and targeting middle school students.

    In October, 1999 Bill Orndorff, a board member of the Museum proposed the group begin accumulating a collection and occupy an empty and abandoned historical home in downtown Santa Maria. This building is called The Hart Home. It was moved to the current location in 1973 from the corner of Curryer and Jones Streets after Lawrence Perry donated the building to the Santa Maria Valley Historical Society. The Home was built in 1877 and is an official historic landmark.

    From the moment that the Natural History Museum doors opened in October, 1999 citizens came forth offering gifts and loans of taxidermy and collections to make the Museum come to life. Local geology expert Ralph Bishop was the first donor. He saw value in having a showcase for his interesting and extensive collection of regional Ice-Age local fossils.

    The Museum name was changed to The Natural History Museum, Santa Maria in 1999 and monetary donations from the public began.

    The Natural History Museum installed a Native Garden under the planning of Georgia Schrager and Board President Tahir Masood in 2014. This expansion was important as the Museum has tried to utilize their entire physical space for natural history education. The landscape is draught tolerant, yet naturally lovely most all year with not only color but scents and urban wildlife, such as Monarch Butterflies, bees and birds. Benches were added to picnic tables for visitor enjoyment all week long.

    The Museum

    The Natural History Museum, Santa Maria
    412 S. McClelland St.
    Santa Maria, CA 93454
    Tel: (805) 614-0806
    Email: naturalhistory412.santamaria@gmail.com

    Mailing Address
    P.O. Box 93456
    Santa Maria, CA 93456

    Social Media
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    Hours of Operation

    Wednesday – Saturday 11 A.M.- 4 P.M.

    Admission is free.

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