Seven months after the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History and Sea Center was forced to close its indoor exhibits due to the COVID-19 health crisis, the museum announced its semi-reopening to the public starting at 10 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 15.
Reopened spaces at the museum include the Mammal Hall, Bird Hall, Santa Barbara Gallery, Chumash Life, Maximus Gallery, Earth and Marine Sciences, Museum Store and Space Sciences, according to the announcement.
The children's Curiosity Lab, Gem and Minerals, and Gladwin Planetarium will remain closed until mid-November. The museum library will reopen to researchers by appointment only.
“We are delighted to welcome visitors safely back inside at the museum and Sea Center — both to experience their favorite exhibits and dioramas and to enjoy the new windows into the natural world we have added," said President and CEO Luke J. Swetland.
Upon its reopening, the Sea Center will feature updates to its Jellies and Friends exhibit that includes animals found in the Santa Barbara Channel, such as the giant Pacific seahorse, as well as new coral reef habitats.
The refreshed exhibit, according to the announcement, is designed to further highlight the channel’s unique biodiversity and explore climate change impacts such as ocean warming and acidification.
To keep patrons and staff safe, both the museum and Sea Center will be implementing comprehensive health and safety measures: Advanced reservations will be required to help limit the number of guests on campus at one time; and a one-way flow of traffic from the entrance to exit will help with crowd control.
Photographers of all ages were invited to capture colorful shots of native critters found in the Tri-County region, including land and sea mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and insects.
Hand-washing and hand-sanitizing stations also will be located throughout campus, and increased cleaning of all public areas, especially high-touch surfaces will be observed, the announcement noted.
Masks covering the nose and mouth are required for all patrons age 3 years and older.
"Our community’s longing and need for trusted nature-based science education and engagement has only grown stronger in the last few months," said Swetland, "so please visit us as soon as you can, and relish in the doorway we provide to the wonders of our natural world.”
Several Solvang businesses and local personalities have been featured on the new YouTube series "Weird Wonderful World" which aired on Aug. 7.
Writers are invited to create a mysterious or scary story related to the supernatural, in 500 words or less.
Lisa André covers local news and lifestyles for Santa Ynez Valley News.
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