H-SANTA MARIA

Jan 5, 2013 9:10 PM by Farrah Shuaib

Santa Maria Natural History Museum looking for volunteers, support

A small and historic house across the street from Santa Maria City Hall is home to the city's Natural History Museum. It is the oldest building in the city,and features some of the biggest creatures you can find on the Central Coast.

Before it became a museum and moved to its current location, one of Santa Mara's most prominent families, the Harts, lived in it.

In 1999, the Natural History Museum moved into the one-story house on South McClelland Street.

"When we opened our doors it was kind of a leap of faith to call ourselves a museum," said Virginia Souza, a volunteer and one of the founders of the museum, "because we didn't have a collection. We had a website."

Today the exhibit has grown to include five displays of ecosystems including ocean, riparian, and oak woodland habitats. Each area incorporates elements to make the learning experience more interactive, such as natural sounds, a touch table, and trivia games.

"There's a lot of nature and stuffed animals. There's things like birds, ducks, cougars... they have facts about the animals and a game that you can play," said Palmdale resident Alliza Wade, who stopped by during her family vacation to the central coast.

The museum is getting ready to start construction on a botanical garden behind the house. The new plants will be paid for by the organization's recent "1,000,000 Penny Project" and will be available for students to use as an outdoor laboratory.

To make sure the museum is around to serve the community for many more years, employees and founders are looking for volunteers and donations.

"I think it's very important for any community to have knowledge of the past...and this place is absolutely great for all ages, young and old," said Orcutt resident, John Wood. "I just hope they have the money to grow because it's really something."

The museum is free and open to the public Wednesday through Saturday from 11 a.m.to 4.p.m. and Sunday from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

To learn more about how you can get involved or visit the museum, we have posted a linked to their website.

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