Laura Hecox Collections

historic photograph of Laura Hecox standing along the coast

Laura Hecox was an extraordinary woman and a brilliant amateur scientist who even had species named after her. Laura was the Santa Cruz lighthouse keeper from 1883 to 1916, and a renowned collector whose lighthouse museum was known far and wide. Contemporary descriptions in newspapers, correspondence, and other publications describe a stunning collection that occupied … Read more

Collections Close-Up: Picturing Nature

From rediscovered family photos to contemporary takes on unprecedented times, pictures taken for all kinds of purposes illuminate our collective understanding of the changing world around us. This month we investigate and celebrate the capacity of photography to shape our relationship with nature, from our foundational collections to our current exhibits. Resources Collections Close-Up Blog: … Read more

Online Resources

The Museum At Your Side A Collection of Hands-on Activities, Informative articles, and Engaging VideosExplore Collections Close-Up Stories from our CollectionsRead Blog Faces of the Museum A Series Profiling our Museum CommunityRead Blog On the Rocks Exploring Science and Nature Through Curated CocktailsRead Blog Rock Record Musings on the Mineral WorldRead Blog

Virtual Exhibit: First Peoples of California

Mural of an Ohlone village in the Quiroste Valley by Ann Thiermann

People have lived in the Santa Cruz region for more than 10,000 years — since mammoths and mastodons roamed the land. In fact, one of the oldest known village sites in California is in nearby Scotts Valley. Today, as in the past, the environment of Santa Cruz offers a wealth of natural resources to support … Read more

Collections Close-Up: Keeping Up With the Past

It has been over a month since the Museum closed for public safety, and the world is full of changes. For many of us, this means reconfiguring our sense of community in a world of physical distancing and protective barriers. Although it is hard, community is about more than shared physical presence. Among other things, … Read more

Collections October 2019: Sheer Coincidence

“It’s the end of the world!”  Thus interrupts the drunk man from the corner of the bar, as the leading lady of Hitchock’s The Birds tries to get some answers. Outside in the sleepy town of Bodega, California, birds are everywhere. They’re massing at playgrounds, dive-bombing pedestrians — malicious attacks, intentional and murderous. It just … Read more

Wayne Thompson: Paleontologist

Ocotober 2019 Meet Wayne Thompson: paleontologist, science educator and friend of the Museum. Wayne holds a long and rich history with us — he was the first person to receive our mastodon skull when it was brought through our doors and, today, he helps advise our Collections department.   Wayne first came to the Museum in … Read more

Isabelle West: Collections Assistant

Isabelle West is a collector at heart. She “finds joy in every little item,” especially those that carry perspective and narrative, from pine cones found at the Donner Party site to 19th century souvenir bottles of crude oil once carried by our founder, Laura Hecox. Starting as a volunteer docent in 2016, Isabelle has helped … Read more