Explore the many ways Native Californians have survived and thrived in our region through their knowledge and use of the natural landscape. The exhibit features displays of artifacts, hands-on activities, and a large mural depicting daily life. Visit our virtual exhibit where text, video, slideshows, and learning extensions bring the Museum’s physical exhibit to life.
Santa Cruz Naturalist
Get your hands wet as you examine local marine life in our intertidal touch pool and learn about the Museum’s beginnings with lighthouse keeper Laura Hecox more than 100 years ago. Through hands-on explorations with real specimens in our nature lab, visitors of all ages will discover the wonder of our region’s natural history and recognize the naturalist within themselves.
From the Shoreline to Summit
From the ocean to the redwoods, explore this exhibit to learn about the wealth of habitats in Santa Cruz County. Our taxidermy gives you an up-close view of native animals and their adaptations. Enjoy live animal encounters with our observation beehive and California king snake.
Santa Cruz Geology and Fossils
Discover the geology of Santa Cruz through displays on common rock types, minerals and the lime industry. From mastodons to microfossils, our region is home to fascinating fossils of all kinds. Use our online guide to the fossils of Santa Cruz County and see what fossils you can find in our garden.
Garden Learning Center
Take a stroll through the grounds of the Museum within Tyrrell Park and you will discover an array of habitats and plants that are native to the Central California Coast. These demonstration gardens support a wealth of insects and birds, and have also been a favorite location for spotting fungi in the winter months. Use our garden guide to explore what’s in bloom.
Seeds: Nature’s Artful Engineer
October 9 – November 28, 2021
Explore the incredible diversity and beauty – and critical importance – of native California plants and their seeds through a series of vivid photographs. This exhibition aims to increase awareness and appreciation of seeds and their incredibly valuable role in California’s ecological systems. Learn more.
The Art of Nature
Every spring, explore the world of scientific illustration in our annual special exhibit, The Art of Nature. Local artists bring to life nature and science through a variety of mediums, highlighting species from the ocean to the sky, and everything in between.