Exhibitions

Unshelved: Cool Stuff from Storage is a brand-new exhibition that will offer a rare “backstage” glimpse into the Museum’s storage areas. Take in the beauty and weirdness of nature—from tiny beetles to enormous whale bones, branching antlers and beautiful corals. Explore the hidden wonders of the Museum’s collection.



Baja’s Wild Side features the breathtaking photography of Dr. Dan Cartamil, a shark expert and marine biologist at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, as he explores Baja California’s Pacific coast region. 



An Ice Age paleontological-turned-archaeological site in San Diego excavated by Museum staff preserves 130,000-year-old mastodon bones, molars, and tusks that show evidence of modification by early humans. Analysis of these finds dramatically revises the timeline for when humans first reached the Americas, according to a paper scheduled to be published in the April 27 issue of the prestigious science journal Nature.



This new, permanent exhibition revolves around the history—and the future—of citizen science, the idea upon which the Museum was founded in 1874. Exhibits included in this space will highlight naturalists—both past and present—and the impact their work and observations has had on science as we know it today. Rare books, art, photographs, and historical documents from our Research Library’s 56,000-volume collection will be displayed alongside plant and animal specimens and brought to life through touchable objects and multimedia experiences that allow deeper access to the works on display. 



Coast to Cactus in Southern California is an innovative permanent exhibition that will invite visitors to explore the unique habitats of southern California, from the coastal wetlands and urban canyons to the high mountains and the desert. Using specimens from the Museum’s scientific collections alongside immersive environments, hands-on interactives, live animals, and innovative media, Coast to Cactus will help visitors discover what it means to be a biodiversity hotspot: the story of why one region is home to so very many species, why these species are so critically threatened at this moment in history, and why it matters.



Skulls contains close to 200 skulls from theNAT’s research collections of animals from all over the world, from the tiny to the spectacular. Mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians are all on display, showcasing an eye-popping array of horns, beaks, bills, teeth, and more.



Through photos, maps, video, and hands-on activities, learn about current, local issues on land and in the ocean. Examine the infrastructure of the regional water system, and discover how we import the majority of our water and the costs associated with this practice. Water: A California Story also looks at effects of a changing climate on our region’s water supply and reveals how southern Californians can help protect water for future generations. Natural history specimens and live animals will serve as reminders that the natural environment and its inhabitants are also legitimate users of water resources.



From dinosaurs to mastodons, discover the rich fossil history of our region. In this major exhibition, created by the Museum, ponder a mystery, examine the strong fossil evidence from the Museum's collection, and use scientific tools to discover answers. Traveling through a 75-million-year timeline, from the age of dinosaurs to the Ice Ages, experience an unfolding of the prehistory of southern California and Baja California, Mexico.