fbpx

Cotoni-Coast Dairies

For decades, local groups have fought to conserve the special cultural and natural resources on what is today the Cotoni-Coast Dairies property. Through maps, community voices and breathtaking landscapes, this exhibit explores this unique open space that is now part of the National Monument system.

Join us during June’s First Friday event to celebrate the opening of the exhibit and explore the topic of public access with our many community partners.

Friday, June 7 | 5:00 – 8:00 P.M.
The Museum and Tyrrell Park
FREE Admission
Learn More

Photos courtesy BLM and Santa Cruz Mountains Trails Stewardship

This Exhibit Made Possible With Support From

Thank you to our Media Partner

Unearthing Local Geology

“What on earth,” asks Frank Perry, “could tiny plankton drifting in the sea have in common with arrowheads and spear points made by people who lived here thousands of years ago?”

In his new book, Geology of the Northern Monterey Bay Region, local author Frank Perry delves deeply into the ways that geology consists of surprising connections. Grounding the reader in the stories of the rocks that underlie our lives, he artfully weaves together ancient origins, childhood nostalgia, fun facts, fossil finds, and more. The book goes above and beyond straightforward storytelling, with themed activities and field trips thrown into the mix.

This richly varied and engaging approach is especially important when unearthing the geology of a place like the Monterey Bay area. Complex and largely obscured by thick soils and dense vegetation, “our rocks” as Frank notes “have not given up their secrets easily.” Our area has more than 14 geologic formations, the units that geologists use to study rocks, several of which are famous for their fossils. In the face of this complexity, the book illuminates the history of how we have come to know the world beneath our feet – whether through observing ancient sand ripples, encountering cave creatures, or finding local faults.

Readers of the book will also find their way into the Museum’s collections, photographs of which are featured throughout the book. Similar to many of our more subtle local geologic features, our collections are often out of sight and out of mind for all but our staff. Nonetheless, they are rich in stories that connect people to nature, and Frank finds a place for many of these, including the commonalities between plankton and spear points.

Beginning with the quote at the opening of this blog, chapter seventeen of the book is illustrated in part by the following artifacts: a carved diatomite specimen, a chert cobble, and a chert point. The carving is light and airy, and it is difficult to imagine how the artist managed to inscribe an image without crushing the medium to dust. The cobble has a stark heft in comparison, with a hardness that isn’t hard to imagine being useful in the spear point of the same material. Despite these differences, the rock types are cozy bedfellows in certain parts of the Monterey Formation, a local oil-rich sedimentary formation that ranges locally between 12 to 15 million years old.

In addition to their common formation origin, these artifacts have other commonalities: we’ve used each of them in exhibits to tell stories about how people connect to nature. In this case, we have different stories of carved stone, from the First Peoples  to more recent European immigrants. 

But what about the crux of the original question, the connection between plankton and points? For that, you’ll have to grab a copy of Frank’s book from the Museum Store, either online or in person. Better yet, join us for the launch party on March 15, 2024, to see these specimens and others used in the book on display while the author himself treats us to a talk on more of the interesting connections carved out by local geology.

FULL 2/10 Mushroom Walks with Phil Carpenter (two sessions)

Join Phil Carpenter for a guided exploration of local mushrooms, part of our line-up of Fungus February events. We’ll learn how to identify mushrooms while marveling at their unique qualities. The location for these walks will be within Santa Cruz County and determined based on this season’s mushroom crop! All registrants will be notified once the location is determined.

Saturday, February 10, 2024
$20 Members | $30 General

This program has reached capacity. Email events@santacruzmuseum.org to join the waitlist

Session One | 10 a.m. to noon

Session Two | 2-4 p.m.

Registration for Fungus February programs will open on January 17 at 9 a.m. for Museum Members and on January 18 at 9 a.m. for the general public. Presale tickets limited to 2 per member. These programs often fill fast, so we recommend 1) becoming a Member if you aren’t one yet, 2) practicing signing into our website to make sure registering goes smoothly, and 3) setting an alarm clock!

Email events@santacruzmuseum.org with any questions, accommodation requests, or if you have trouble registering.

Accessibility

  • Participants should be prepared to walk up to 2 miles on uneven terrain. More specific location notes to come.
  • Youth under the age of 14 must be accompanied by an adult. Registration fees apply to all ages.
  • We will provide hand lenses and field guides as resources, but feel free to bring along your favorite mushroom observation tools (we have a number of resources in our online store and Members receive 10% off).
  • Leave your pets at home. Trained service animals are permitted.
  • Follow the latest guidelines for COVID safety at the time of the event.

FULL 2/4 Mushroom Walks with Phil Carpenter (two sessions)

Join Phil Carpenter for a guided exploration of local mushrooms, part of our line-up of Fungus February events. We’ll learn how to identify mushrooms while marveling at their unique qualities. The location for these walks will be within Santa Cruz County and determined based on this season’s mushroom crop! All registrants will be notified once the location is determined.

Sunday, February 4, 2024
$20 Members | $30 General

Session One | 10 a.m. to noon

Session Two | 2-4 p.m.

Registration for Fungus February programs will open on January 17 at 9 a.m. for Museum Members and on January 18 at 9 a.m. for the general public. Presale tickets limited to 2 per member. These programs often fill fast, so we recommend 1) becoming a Member if you aren’t one yet, 2) practicing signing into our website to make sure registering goes smoothly, and 3) setting an alarm clock!

Email events@santacruzmuseum.org with any questions, accommodation requests, or if you have trouble registering.

Accessibility

  • Participants should be prepared to walk up to 2 miles on uneven terrain. More specific location notes to come.
  • Youth under the age of 14 must be accompanied by an adult. Registration fees apply to all ages.
  • We will provide hand lenses and field guides as resources, but feel free to bring along your favorite mushroom observation tools (we have a number of resources in our online store and Members receive 10% off).
  • Leave your pets at home. Trained service animals are permitted.
  • Follow the latest guidelines for COVID safety at the time of the event.

About our Walk Leader

Phil Carpenter has been a mushroom picker (versus “hunter”) all of his life, having started picking midwest morels at a very early age. He has been pursuing mycology for nearly 40 years in California. He has been a member of the Fungus Federation of Santa Cruz since it was founded, and has been an officer in the club for most of those years.

2/3 Family Fun: Mushroom Crafts

Join educators from the Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History for a fun crafting event all about mushrooms! Family Fun programs are great for elementary aged kids and their families, but all ages are welcome.

This program is part of our annual Fungus February series.

Saturday, February 3, 2024
Time: 11 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Location: Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History
Drop-In Program

Free with Admission*

*Free for Members and Youth under 18 | $4 General | $2 Students and Seniors

Accessibility

  • All experience levels are welcome. Materials will be provided.
  • Youth under the age of 14 must be accompanied by an adult.
  • Follow the latest guidelines for covid safety.
  • Please leave your pets at home. Trained service animals are permitted.
  • Review more details on our Accessibility page.

12/16 Member Meet-Up: Mushrooms

‘Tis the season for mushrooms! Join Museum staffer Marisa Gomez for a guided exploration of the Santa Cruz Mountains where we will work together to identify what we find in the duff and stumps of redwoods, firs, oaks, madrones, and more.

Saturday, December 16, 2023
10 a.m. to noon

Free
Member Exclusive | Join today!

Accessibility

  • Location details and further instructions will be shared with registrants in advance of the program. The location. will be in Santa Cruz County within a 20 minute drive of the Museum.
  • Please leave your doggos at home. Trained service animals are permitted.
  • As is the case with most mycologic, botanic, and geologic explorations, we will likely not travel very far due to constant distractions and pauses. That being said, be prepared to traipse through the woods on uneven terrain for up to 2 miles.
  • We will be helping each other identify the mushrooms that we find and no prior knowledge is required.
  • We encourage you to bring a copy of Mushrooms of the Redwood Coast to aid in your identifications and help you develop skills that you’ll be able to take with you after the program. Members receive 10% off in our store.
  • iNaturalist is a useful tool to aid in your identifications, as well as support an effort to document our area’s biodiversity. We invite you to consider downloading the app ahead of time and we will help you learn how to use it.

About the Walk Leader

Marisa Gomez is the Community Education and Collaboration Manager at the Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History. Her specialty is in facilitating experiences where communities can connect and build skills together over a shared appreciation for nature. She’s particularly fond of mushrooms, rocks, and natural dyes.

The Curious World of Seaweed

This extraordinary exhibition features captivating color “portraits” of seaweed, inspired by Josie Iselin’s book of the same name. The exhibition shares surprising stories highlighting Indigenous peoples’ and women’s connections to seaweed and examines its vital role as the base of the food chain.

Seaweeds have three requirements for survival: something to hold onto, sunlight to provide energy, and nutrients to fuel growth. They find these three elements in a thin section of the ocean, which accounts for less than two percent of the entire sea floor. Yet seaweeds are the supreme eco-engineers, oxygenating the waters and creating habitats for countess organisms. This exhibition examines how these surprisingly sophisticated marine plants keep our planet opulently rich in life. 

Order the Book

Pick up a copy of the book that inspired the exhibit, The Curious World of Seaweed. In this beautiful volume Josie Iselin explores both the artistic and the biological presence of sixteen seaweeds and kelps that live in the thin region where the Pacific Ocean converges with the North American continent—a place of incomparable richness. 

Also available for purchase in-person at the Museum Store.


Josie Iselin is a photographer, author, and designer of many books. Her newest book, The Curious World of Seaweed, presents visually rich narratives of our iconic West Coast seaweeds and kelps. It was released by Heyday Books in August 2019 and has been shortlisted for the Northern California Book Award and the Alice Award, recognizing illustrated books. She holds a BA in Visual and Environmental Studies from Harvard and an MFA from San Francisco State University. She currently teaches in the School of Design at SFSU.

Visit her website: https://bullkelp.info/

  • Video: Kelp and Conservation
    This Collections Close-Up video explores two kinds of conservation: the preservation of biodiversity records in the form of marine algae specimens and the fight to save the kelp forests of the California … Read more
  • Monterey Bay Algae Guide
    Dip your toes into the world of algae with this illustrated guide to local species and foraging ethics. Monterey Bay Algae: An Illustrated Guide to Appreciating Algae (PDF | HTML) Monterey Bay … Read more
  • Collections Close-Up: On Kelp and Conservation
    From glittering blues to shimmering silvers, the ocean punctuates the visual landscape of all who are fortunate to spend time along the Monterey Bay. Yet many of the beauties of the bay … Read more

The Curious World of Seaweed is a traveling exhibition from author and artist Josie Iselin in partnership with Exhibit Envoy. The exhibit is based on the book of the same name by Iselin (Heyday Books).

Thanks to Our Exhibit Sponsors

FULL 11/18 Family Fun with Tule

Get crafty with us for some hands-on learning this Native American Heritage Month. Join us for a Family Fun event all about tule, a plant traditionally used by local Indigenous communities to create different items and tools. During this event, Museum educators will help families create boats and other crafts.

Saturday, November 18, 2023
1-2:30 p.m.
Free | Donations Appreciated 

Email events@santacruzmuseum.org with any questions, accommodation requests, or if you have trouble registering.

Accessibility 

  • All ages are welcome. However, this program is best suited for children ages 5 years & older and their families.
  • Instructors will adapt the program for the needs of the group.
  • Youth under the age of 14 must be accompanied by an adult at all times.
  • All materials will be provided for registered participants. 
  • Restrooms and water fountain will be available inside the Museum during this program. 
  • Recommendations: Wear layers, comfortable shoes, sun protection, and bring any snacks/water you might need. 
  • Please leave your pets at home. Trained service animals are permitted.
  • Follow the latest guidelines for COVID safety at the time of the program.

11/16 BIPOC Bonfires

Be in community for monthly bonfire talks at Seabright Beach led by local leaders of color, in partnership with County Park Friends. November’s conversation will focus on Native American Heritage Month.

Thursday, November 16, 2023

BIPOC Hours: 4-5 p.m.
Location: Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History

BIPOC Bonfire Talks: 5-6:30 p.m.
Location: Seabright Beach

Monthly Series Topics

  • February 28: Kick-Off Event!
  • March 16: Buffalo Soldiers with Aniko Milan
  • April 20: Colorism and Internal Racism with Santa Cruz Black
  • May 18: Black Expressive Arts and Silent Disco with African Roots Social Club and Dewitt Productions
  • June 22: BIPOC Roller Skaters History of Venice Beach with County Park Friends
  • July 20; BIPOC Joy with Areperia 831
  • August 17: Father Taj
  • September 21: National LatinxHeritage Month with County Park Friends
  • October 19: TBD
  • November 16: National Native American Heritage Month with County Park Friends

About the Series/Sobre la Serie

Check out the Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History during special extended hours for our BIPOC community, then walk over to the beach to enjoy time together around the fire learning about historic or significant BIPOC figures, amazing natural wonders or discussion of issues we face today. This series continues on the 3rd Thursdays of the month 4-5 p.m. at the museum and 5-6:30 p.m. at the beach!

Visite el Museo de Historia Natural de Santa Cruz durante el horario extendido especial (el mismo día 4-5) para nuestra comunidad BIPOC, luego camine hasta la playa para disfrutar del tiempo juntos alrededor del fuego aprendiendo sobre figuras históricas o significativas de BIPOC, asombrosas maravillas naturales o discusión de los problemas que enfrentamos hoy. ¡Esta serie continúa los terceros jueves del mes de 4 a 5 p. m. en el museo y de 5 a 6:30 p. m. en la playa!