The Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History is a nonprofit organization dedicated to connecting people with nature and science to inspire stewardship of the natural world. Founded on the collection of naturalist Laura Hecox, it is the oldest public museum in Santa Cruz dating back to the early 1900s. The Museum welcomes thousands of local and visiting guests every year, and serves thousands of students through its popular school field trips.
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THE SANTA CRUZ FUNGUS FAIR RETURNS AFTER FOUR YEARS FOR ITS 50TH ANNIVERSARY
December 22, 2023
SANTA CRUZ, CA — JANUARY 4, 2024 — The Santa Cruz Fungus Fair celebrates its 50th anniversary this month. The Fair is presented by the Fungus Federation of Santa Cruz and the Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History and will feature hundreds of fascinating species from the area, uniquely displayed in a re-created woodland habitat. This iconic Santa Cruz tradition will offer three days of demonstrations, informative speakers, and fungus-forward activities for the whole family.
NEW EXHIBIT, “The Curious World of Seaweed”
December 22, 2023
SANTA CRUZ, CA — JANUARY 2, 2024 — The Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History is pleased to present The Curious World of Seaweed, an extraordinary exhibition featuring captivating color “portraits” of seaweed. The temporary exhibition features surprising stories highlighting Indigenous peoples’ and women’s connections to seaweed and examines its vital role as the base of the food chain. “The Curious World of Seaweed” opens January 6 and will be on view through March 3.
NEW ORIGINAL EXHIBIT, “UNDERGROUND: UNEARTHING UNSEEN WORLDS”
October 3, 2023
The Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History is excited to announce that the mastodon tooth that made world headlines this past June will be on display as part of a special exhibit that delves into the mysteries beneath our feet. Underground: Unearthing Unseen Worlds will offer visitors of all ages the opportunity to explore this largely hidden ecosystem teeming with life, past and present. The exhibit opens October 6 as part of a First Friday celebration and runs through November 12.
Community Response Results In Recovery of Missing Mastodon Tooth
May 30, 2023
As Memorial Day weekend ramped up last Friday, a tourist with ties to the area spotted an unusual object on Rio Del Mar beach. Uncertain of what she was seeing, she photographed her unusual find and shared it on social media in the hopes that it would be identified. That’s when Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History Paleontology Collections Advisor, Wayne Thompson, posted online to clarify the significance of the discovery.
SCIENCE ILLUSTRATORS FEATURED AT FIRST FRIDAY AND MAKER’S MARKET
March 29, 2023
The Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History’s annual spring exhibit, The Art of Nature, features 45 local artists who excel at representing nature through fine detail and accuracy. The Museum has been exhibiting science illustration since 1989 and this year’s show includes a wide variety of mediums, including 3-D printing, that bring an array of species to life.
Extreme Weather Series Opens with Gary Griggs’ “Perils in Paradise” at London Nelson 3/2
February 23, 2023
The Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History will present a series of events to reflect on recent storms, learn about the history of natural disasters in Santa Cruz County, and consider our climate future
The series opens with Perils in Paradise on Thursday, March 2, 2023, 6-8 p.m. at London Nelson Community Center featuring Dr. Gary Griggs, Distinguished Professor of Earth & Planetary Sciences at the University of California Santa Cruz, as keynote speaker.
Museum honors Founder and 2023 Laura Hecox Naturalist with free community celebration.
January 16, 2023
The Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History will celebrate the birthday of its founder, Santa Cruz naturalist and lightkeeper, Laura Hecox, on Saturday, January 28. The event will include outdoor activities with local community partners, leaders, and historians, kicking off the day’s events with the presentation of the Museum’s 2023 Laura Hecox Naturalist award.
Fungus Fair returns to original home at Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History
November 22, 2022
The Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History and the Fungus Federation of Santa Cruz are partnering up once again to present the Mini Fungus Fair on Saturday, December 10. The free outdoor fair will take place in Tyrrell Park outside the Museum and feature a display of local mushrooms, experts to assist with identifications, activities, local artists, and food vendors.
Museum of the Macabre at the Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History Expands to Month-Long Exhibit
October 4, 2022
The Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History is expanding their popular annual Museum of the Macabre Halloween event into a month-long exhibit diving into Maritime Mysteries and Monsters for visitors of all ages, October 4-November 6.
‘Remembering Castle Beach’ exhibit opens at Museum of Natural History
June 2, 2022
The Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History’s latest exhibit, Remembering Castle Beach, brings to life the heyday of Seabright’s Scholl Marr Castle through historic photographs, souvenirs, and artifacts, while examining how the nearby coastline has changed over time.
Built in 1929, the Scholl Marr Castle was a thriving center of entertainment and beach culture for the Seabright neighborhood, where sports like surfing and beach volleyball were popular pastimes.
‘The Art of Nature’ Returns to Museum of Natural History
March 29, 2022
The Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History’s annual spring exhibit, The Art of Nature, opens to the public April 2, on view through June 5. The exhibit features works from over 30 local artists in a variety of mediums, all sure to inspire curiosity and deepen connections with science and nature. Hands-on activities within the exhibit inspire budding artists of all ages to engage their observational skills while illustrating museum specimens.
Fungus February Brings Month of Mushroom Events to Santa Cruz
February 1, 2022
The Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History and the Fungus Federation of Santa Cruz have partnered to bring the community Fungus February, a series of events celebrating and examining the mushrooms of the region. Events include guided walks with experts, art workshops, programs for youth, and a Mini Fungus Fair featuring displays of fungal diversity from throughout the County.
Museum Honors Founder and Presents 2022 Naturalist Award at Laura Hecox Day Celebration
January 19, 2022
Continuing a tradition that began in 2017, the Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History will celebrate the birthday of its founder, Santa Cruz naturalist and lightkeeper, Laura Hecox, on Saturday, January 29. The outdoor event will include Victorian-era activities, community partners, historians, and the 2022 Laura Hecox Naturalist award presentation.
New Exhibit Pollinators: Keeping Company with Flowers
January 11, 2022
Pollinators: Keeping Company with Flowers, an exhibit that portrays the relationship between insects and the flowers they pollinate, will be at the Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History from January 15 through March 6, 2022. The traveling exhibition explores the diversity of native California pollinators and their flowers through a series of vivid photographs.
New Exhibit Seeds: Nature’s Artful Engineering
October 6, 2021
Seeds: Nature’s Artful Engineering is the new exhibit from the Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History, featuring unique and beautiful photographic images that vividly portray intriguing seed structures and dispersal mechanisms of native plants as they enter the final stage of their evolutionary biology: ensuring the survival of plant life. The exhibit opens on October 9, both online and in the Museum’s galleries.
Museums and Galleries Celebrate Reopening
April 27, 2021
Museums, galleries, and other cultural institutions are finally able to reopen their doors safely. Across the County these organizations invite you to reconnect and rediscover art, history, nature, and culture. In recognition of Museum Month in May, many local museums and galleries are celebrating with free or reduced admission and community members are encouraged to revisit the places that connect and inspire children and adults alike.
Museum of Natural History Reopens with New Exhibit
April 14, 2021
The Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History reopens to the public on Saturday, April 17. The reopening was announced after the County entered the Red Tier of California’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy, allowing museums to operate indoors once again. The Museum showed appreciation for those who have supported them during their closure with a weeklong member preview, which began on April 10.
2020 Vision Virtual Photography Exhibit
January 4, 2021
The Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History’s community-sourced virtual photography exhibit, “2020 Vision,” opened online on January 2 featuring nearly 100 images taken in Santa Cruz County during the year 2020, provided by 62 Santa Cruz County residents.
In the News
From Fossils To The Future
At 118 years old, The Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History is still evolving.
August 22, 2023
By Jessica M. Pasko
Source: Good Times
The museum celebrated its 118th birthday this past weekend. Over the past years, it has been undergoing an evolution of sorts as its staff works on building community engagement. That includes creating unique programming and exhibits designed to serve its educational mission and ensure inclusivity. It’s a transformation they hope will introduce the museum to new visitors and re-introduce it to those who haven’t been in awhile.
Series on Natural Disasters Comes to Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History
February 28, 2023
BY ERIN MALSBURY
Source: Good Times
People around Santa Cruz County geared up for power outages, road closures and a couple of rare snow days as a winter storm blew through the area on Thursday and Friday. Residents grabbed old surfboards, boogie boards and skim boards to ride down hillsides covered in snow that piled a foot deep in some parts of the mountains.
Natural Wonders of Santa Cruz … Autumn Edition
September 22, 2022
BY KIMBERLEY HICKOK
Source: California Local
The Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History offers tips for getting the most out of the coming fall season. As ribbons of crisp, cool air begin to cut through the final heatwaves of summer, signaling the return of pumpkin-spice-everything, the natural world around us enters a transition phase, leaving summer behind and preparing for winter.
Art returns to walls of Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History for first in-person exhibit there since 2020
April 5, 2021
BY CYPRESS HANSEN
Source: Lookout Santa Cruz
A year ago, the Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History was hanging art on the walls and finalizing display cases for one of its most beloved exhibits of the year: The annual Art of Nature show.
Watching flames turn to forests
April 2, 2021
BY ERIN MALLSBURY
“There is a lot of magic happening beneath the surface,” said Amy Patten on a live webinar. She manages the Rare Plant Treasure Hunt project at the California Native Plant Society (CNPS), and she was describing the scorched earth in the CZU Lightning Complex burn zones.
Name Dropping | Museum’s ‘2020 Vision’ honors photographers
January 10, 2021
BY SANTA CRUZ SENTINEL
The Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History’s community-sourced virtual photography exhibit, “2020 Vision,” has opened and features nearly 100 images taken in Santa Cruz County during 2020, provided by 62 Santa Cruz County residents.