Natural History Museum Re-Opens to Public with New Funds

Humboldt State University’s Natural History Museum will re-open to the public next week with a broader academic mission and solid financial backing from recent grants.

Meeting additional student needs in the K-12 arena, the Museum is reinforcing its educational mission through math and science teacher preparation. The facility remained open to school children but closed to other visitors over the past year because of state budget cuts.

Key officials say the Museum will build on the donor and community volunteer strengths it developed in the last two decades, even as it expands into new areas.

The revamped facility will be managed by the Humboldt Science and Mathematics Center/Redwood Science Project, a grant-funded campus organization focused primarily on science and mathematics education and future teacher programs. The center administered the grants that kept the Museum open for class visits last year, and has identified several sources of new funding.

The Museum, located at 1315 G street in Arcata, was closed to the public in August 2009 as HSU struggled to deal with a massive $7.2 million state budget cut.

It will re-open to the public on Tuesday, Sept. 14. A grand opening event is planned for Oct. 9.

Humboldt State Professor Jeffrey White, the center’s director, outlined the new revenue sources, including grant funding and commitments for individual donations. They include backing from the California Department of Education, California State University’s future science and mathematics teacher program and contributions from the Museum’s long-standing and new supporters.

The funds will help re-establish the Museum, open it to the general public and expand offerings for classes. The Museum will now be tied more closely to Humboldt State’s educational programs, offering current and future teachers opportunities to heighten student interest in science.

“Many committed individuals helped make the new financial arrangements possible,” White said. “Although the HSMC has already obtained this grant funding to help with the re-opening,” he added, “we will still need a lot of support from the public to make the new management plan viable. If you’ve previously pledged to help the museum, you will hear from us again shortly.”

The new administrative plan means the Museum will be able to forgo the salary of a director. White and others from the Redwood Science Project will oversee the Museum, and Project member Julie Van Sickle is the interim manager. The search for a permanent manager, which will be a part-time position, will begin soon.

The new arrangement builds on a proposal outlined last year by the facility’s advisory board and the North Coast Natural History Museum Association. The leadership and many members of these groups were deeply involved in the discussions, and have pledged to support the new and improved Museum, White said.

“We are so happy the Museum is re-opening to the public and we are fully behind the effort of the Redwood Science Project,” said Karen Reiss, association board chair.

“Everyone involved in this deserves a lot of credit,” said HSU Provost Robert Snyder. “All came together to back something they cared about and that they thought was important. Jeffrey White and his team deserve special thanks, not only for the fresh grant funding they secured, but also for reinforcing the Museum’s crucial links to our academic programs in math and science, connections that build on the Museum’s highly successful student intern program. We are also grateful to the scores of steadfast Museum volunteers from all over the area. Developing this plan and getting the grants was a challenge, and Jeffrey and his colleagues were able to pull it off with the Museum volunteers’ dedication and support.”

Details about membership costs and benefits are still being worked out. Memberships active at the time of the museum’s closure to the public in August, 2009, will be honored.

The museum will be open to the general public Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.