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Liz Broughton: Visitors Services Manager

Our Visitors Services Manager Liz Broughton at her desk

Liz Broughton, Visitor Services Manager, is the Museum’s longest-serving current full-time employee, having joined the team in October 2010 after graduating from the University of Washington’s master’s degree program in museology, museum studies.

She has served many roles at the Museum, starting as an admissions attendant and working her way up to a portfolio that includes managing exhibits, admissions, and the store. Liz is often found welcoming guests and school tours at the reception desk just inside the Museum’s entrance.

A native of the San Lorenzo Valley north of Santa Cruz who likes to hike in Henry Cowell State Park, Liz developed a love of museums early in life and was inspired in college to make a career of it.

“I was raised to be a museum nerd and always enjoyed them,” she said. “For birthdays, my specific request would often be to visit the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum in San Jose or the Cal Academy of Sciences. I have always been interested in a wide variety of subjects.”

Liz decided to pursue a career in museum work after earning her undergraduate degree at UC Berkeley in anthropology and Celtic studies. She served internships at the Hearst Museum of Anthropology and performed research on Museum of Vertebrate Zoology specimens before attending graduate school in Seattle. There, she interned with the Experience Music Project, Woodland Park Zoo and Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture.

“One of the things I learned in school is if you go to museums as a kid, you are more likely to visit museums and support them as adults,” Liz said. “That’s why I like to talk to folks when they come in the door — hopefully inspiring them to come back and visit and to learn more on their own.”

January 2017: Reflecting and Looking Forward

As we enter a fresh year, I appreciate this time to reflect on the exciting achievements our Museum has made in 2016. I am also grateful to the many dedicated folks — staff, board members, volunteers and donors — who lent a hand (or two) in our ongoing transformation and evolution as an organization.

January also is a time to look forward to the many initiatives and changes on the horizon. This month, I’m starting a new blog called Contemplate in our monthly newsletter to keep our community up to date on the purposeful work undertaken by our team here to fulfill our mission.

Santa Cruz Museum of natural history sign out frontOn Dec. 20, we unveiled our new entrance sign, which will be seen by the almost 20,000 visitors we welcome through our doors each year. Thousands more will see it as they make their way to nearby Seabright Beach, the Yacht Harbor or the Beach Boardwalk. The metal sign created by Santa Cruz artist Alan Ziegler features our name and logo but represents much more than just a new face to the Museum. It marks a fresh start for this precious place founded 111 years ago as Santa Cruz’s first public museum.

We are very proud of our long history. Established in 1905, our museum lived in several spaces until it moved to its current home here in this lovely Carnegie Library in the 1950s. In 2009, our organization began the large endeavor of transitioning from City ownership to becoming an independent, community-supported nonprofit museum. This included a name change in 2013 to the Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History. Our new sign showcases that name and reflects the time of revitalization which we are now undertaking.

With the support of our board, donors, neighbors and volunteers, the Museum staff and I have been working hard to make the visitor experience more dynamic and engaging, while ensuring our educational programming and events are reaching new audiences. We continue to strive to connect our community’s members and visitors with our region’s natural and cultural history in personal, meaningful ways.

Toddler examining tide poolIn the past three years, we have seen a 15 percent increase in general admission — this does not include school groups, member visits, or special events — just the folks who popped in to see what we are all about. And I’m also very excited to tell you the number of new memberships rose 13 percent in 2016 year over 2015.

The experiences we offer at the Museum and through our nature-based programs are expanding, and some of the most recent initiatives include:

  • Our Santa Cruz Naturalist exhibit with its interactive intertidal touch pools and naturalist lab, our first new permanent exhibit in over 20 years.
  • Mobile Museum event at Lupulo Craft Beer HouseRotating special exhibits, including two premieres: Photographer Jason Bradley’s “California: At the Water’s Edge” and local historian Frank Perry’s “Big Basin’s Auto Tree: One Tree, Many Stories.” We also had a Mobile Museum event at Lupulo Craft Beer House in October ahead of a special sold-out Museum of the Macabre event at the Museum in celebration of Halloween.
  • Engaging Naturalist talks and special events, such as the fantastic presentation on big cats by Dr. Chris Wilmers in May and the exciting upcoming talk by Dr. Gary Griggs on Jan. 19 about our region’s history and potential for natural disasters, within the larger climate change context.

Lecture at the museumIn the coming year, we also will celebrate the birthday of our founder Laura Hecox on Jan. 29 by honoring a new gravestone marking her final resting place. In April, we will feature the 28th installment of our annual exhibit of scientific illustration as well as a new exhibit created by the Santa Cruz Kids in Nature program. We also will premiere a new book about the history of Seabright here in April and are proud to have been a part of this exciting publication created by the Seabright Neighborhood Association.

This is a wonderful time for our Museum. We have so much to celebrate and there is great work yet to be done. We welcome your involvement and feedback in helping us maintain the Museum’s role as irreplaceable part of our community. And if you are not already a member, we would love to have you join us at santacruzmuseum.org.

Thank you,

Heather