CA -- San Diego -- Balboa Park -- Natural History Museum -- Exhibit: Unshelved:
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Description of Pictures: Unshelved: Cool Stuff from Storage
Come see what’s in our drawers.
Have you ever wondered what goes on behind the exhibits in The Nat’s building? The building looks bigger from the outside than inside because it holds 8 million specimens—animals, plants, fossils, shells, insects and spiders, minerals, and gems—in storage areas underground and behind gallery walls. We’re giving visitors a rare peek behind the scenes in our new exhibition, Unshelved: Cool Stuff from Storage. The exhibition is free for members and included with general admission.
A look behind the scenes in our storage areas is like a cross-section of the diversity of nature itself. You’ll find everything from tiny beetles to enormous whale bones. Patterns and symmetry in scales and feathers, in the twisting spiral of a gastropod shell, in branching antlers and beautiful corals. The alien weirdness of a whale barnacle or a giant stag beetle.
The specimens in the Museum’s holdings, which are meticulously preserved and catalogued, are curated by several departments that comprise the Biodiversity Research Center of the Californias (BRCC). Research departments and collections include Birds and Mammals, Botany, Entomology, Herpetology, Marine Invertebrates, Mineralogy, Paleontology, and the Research Library.
Due to the sheer size of our collection, we have an abundance of riches, though most of these specimens never see the light of day. Unshelved changes that by giving visitors a rare “backstage” glimpse of the Museum’s storage areas. Specimens arranged on shelves and in cases will offer visitors the opportunity to revel in the natural world in all its beauty and strangeness.
Unshelved, located on Level 2 next to Coast to Cactus in Southern California, is free for members and included with general admission.
This exhibition is made possible by the J.W. Sefton Foundation, Kathy and John Hattox, and the City of San Diego.
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cool stuff from storage
Big. Small. Beautiful. Bizarre. The Nat's collection has it all. But only a tiny part of what we store behind the scenes is ever put on display.
We're sharing some of these rarely seen specimens with you. Come in and explore nature in all of its wonderful and weird forms.
AAA "Gem": AAA considers this location to be a "must see" point of interest. To see pictures of other areas that AAA considers to be Gems, click here.
Wikipedia Description: San Diego Natural History Museum
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The San Diego Natural History Museum is a museum located in Balboa Park in San Diego, California. It was founded in 1874 as the San Diego Society of Natural History. It is the second oldest scientific institution west of the Mississippi and the oldest in Southern California. The present location of the museum was dedicated on January 14, 1933. A major addition to the museum was dedicated in April 2001, doubling exhibit space.
The San Diego Natural History Museum grew out of the San Diego Society of Natural History, which was founded on October 9, 1874. The Natural History Society was founded by George W. Barnes, Daniel Cleveland, Charles Coleman, E. W. Hendrick and O. N. Sanford. It is the oldest scientific institution in southern California, and the second oldest west of the Mississippi.
In its initial years, the San Diego Society of Natural History was the region's primary source of scientific culture, serving a small but growing community eager for information about its natural resources. Early society members established a Volunteer County Weather Service in 1875, petitioned to create Torrey Pines State Reserve in 1885 and Anza Borrego Desert State Park, and garnered support for the San Diego Zoological Society.
Hotel Cecil, Sixth Avenue
In 1887, the Society was given a lot on Sixth Avenue between B and C streets by E. W. Morse, a former president of the city's short-lived Lyceum of Natural Sciences. The Hotel Cecil was eventually built on part of the society's lot, and in June 1912 the Society began to meet there.
In 1910, the San Diego Society of Natural History hired Kate Stephens, an authority on terrestrial and marine mollusks, as curator for its collections. These included the personal collection of her husband, mammalogist and ornithologist Frank Stephens, who donated over 2000 bird and mammal specimens to the Society in 1910. In June 1912, Katherine and Frank Stephens installed the Society's first museum exhibits at the Hotel Cecil, where they could be viewed by the public on selected afternoons.
The Sixth Avenue property hosted the museum's exhibits for a very short time, roughly 1912-1917. However, it remained the property of the Society until 1987, when it was sold to the Trammel Crow Company. Money raised by the sale became part of the Museum of Natural History’s endowment fund.
Exposition Buildings, Balboa Park
Various supporters of the 1915 Panama-California Exposition at Balboa Park expressed interest in repurposing buildings from the Exposition. This was complicated because the actual title to the land in Balboa Park remained with the City of San Diego. In June 1916, museum supporter G. S. Thompson proposed that "The one legal ground that a private museum corporation has that will permit it to occupy city-owned buildings in a public park is that the museum authorities maintain exhibits that will be free, i.e., without admission charges, and open at all times to the public."
The museum eventually occupied three different buildings from the Exposition in Balboa Park, none of which was ideally suited to museum use. In 1917, the Society paid $500 to the Panama-California Exposition Corporation for the vacant Nevada State Building. The Society moved its growing collections and library into the building in February 1917, thus creating the San Diego Natural History Museum. Frank Stephens served as the first director of the museum from 1917 to 1920. The Board identified its mission as being "to educate and help people know and love nature". Using specimens from the museum's collections, the institution developed educational outreach programs with city and county schools.
Unfortunately, many of the buildings at the Exposition had been intended as temporary structures. The two-story Nevada building, with its arcades, flanking wings, and Spanish-Renaissance trim, was not built to last. The museum obtained permission from the Park Commission to move to the 1915 Foreign Arts Building, which it remodeled in 1920. When the Foreign Arts Building proved too small, the museum expanded into the 1916 Canadian Building (previously the 1915 Commerce and Industries Building). This new space was opened to the public on December 9, 1922. The museum's intention was to eventually combine the buildings.
William Templeton Johnson Building, Balboa Park
From 1922 until his death in 1946, Clinton G. Abbott was the museum's director. During Abbott's period as director, the museum was able to build and move into long-term quarters. Other notable naturalists and curators of this period include Guy Fleming, Laurence M. Huey, and Laurence M. Klauber.
In 1925, a nearby fire raised concerns about the safety of the existing museum buildings. Community leaders recognized the need for a permanent museum of adequate size that would be both fire-proof and earthquake-proof. Ellen Browning Scripps was a major benefactor of the proposed building project.
In 1832, San Diego's leading architect, William Templeton Johnson, was commissioned by the Society of Natural History to design its new museum building on Balboa Park's East Prado. Johnson had earned his reputation with his design of the Fine Arts Gallery (now the San Diego Museum of Art) and the downtown San Diego Trust & Savings Bank, among other buildings. The museum building combined Spanish and Moorish touches. Yellow and blue tiles mark a row of arches under a balustrade; surprisingly, given the Spanish influences, the building did not have a tiled roof.
The construction of the permanent headquarters was made possible through a grant of $125,000 from Ellen Browning Scripps, and by public subscription. However, the full amount needed for the building could not be raised in the Depression years. Only the first unit of the building, at the south end of the lot, and one wing extending toward the north, could be built. The north and east exterior facades were left plain as temporary walls slated for future expansion, and remained so for 60 years. The $175,000 Natural History Museum building was formally dedicated on January 14, 1933.
World War II
The Society was notified on March 8, 1943, that the United States Navy wished to take over the Natural History Museum for hospital use at once, becoming the infectious diseases ward. Some renovation took place in the facility, including the addition of an elevator designed to handle hospital gurneys and a nurses' station between floors. Both features remain in use today. The U.S. Navy takeover of the museum building for the duration of World War II resulted in damage to the collections, exhibits, and the building itself. The main library and its librarian were moved to San Diego State College; the rest of the treasured and fragile exhibits were hastily packed, crated and moved into a total of 32 separate places. Exhibits too large to be moved were stuffed into the north wing on the main floor. Director Clinton G. Abbott and a staff of four were allowed only limited access to an area of the basement.
Once staff were allowed to reoccupy the building, on July 1, 1949, major renovations commenced. Forced to look at all collections and exhibits by this rehabilitation process, the board adopted a firm policy to restrict collections to the southwestern United States and northern Mexico. The museum continued its steady growth with post-war San Diego, despite periods of financial stress. The American Alliance of Museums accredited the museum in 1974.
Postmodern Expansion, 2001
In 1991, Michael Hager took over the position of President and CEO of the San Diego Natural History Museum. With Robert F. Smith, he led the museum through a strategic planning process that focused the museum's collection strategies on southern and Baja California, and led to the development of the Biodiversity Research Center of Southern California, a collaborative Environmental Science Education Center for the United States and Mexico, and a major capital campaign for the expansion of the museum itself.
In April 2001, new design and construction more than doubled the size of the 1933 building, from 65,000 square feet (6,000 m2) of usable space to approximately 150,000 square feet (14,000 m2). The entrance received a new Postmodern style facade and glassed atrium. The project architects were Richard Bundy and David Thompson Architects Inc. The expansion also provided new space for the museum's research, educational, and administrative activities.
In December 2009, the San Diego Natural History Museum was awarded the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design−LEED for Existing Buildings: Operations & Maintenance (LEED-EB: O&M) Certification. It is one of the oldest privately owned institutions to achieve the award.
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