Fall Into Sheer Awesomeness at The Nat this Season

November 2, 2017

Grand opening of Unshelved: Cool Stuff from Storage, new Artist in Residence program begins, Nat Talks season continues, and Incredible Predators now showing in the SUBARU 3D Experience


Grand Opening on November 18

Have you ever wondered what goes on behind the scenes at The Nat? The building looks bigger from the outside than inside because it holds 8 million specimens—animals, plants, fossils, shells, insects and spiders, minerals, and gems—in storage areas underground and behind gallery walls. The Nat is giving visitors a rare peek behind the scenes by opening Unshelved: Cool Stuff from Storage on November 18, 2017. The exhibition is free for members and included with general admission. Media are invited to enjoy an advance sneak peek on November 16 from 5-9 PM—RSVP required.


The Nat has created a new Artist in Residence program in an effort to make the rich relationship between scientific inquiry and artistic practice more visible. Our two (well, three) artists in residence, Lisa Jetonne and Larry and Debby Kline, intend to break down the barrier between the front of house and back of house. The artists will meet with guests in our exhibitions, presenting activities that ignite a sense of wonder about the natural world and deepen respect for our environment. Visit our calendar to see when Lisa and the Klines will be onsite.

The Artist in Residence program is made possible through forward-thinking funding from the J.W. Sefton Foundation.


The 2017-2018 season of Nat Talks features our own scientists, as well as experts from around the country, and focus on the latest in scientific research, conservation, and the natural world. Nat Talks take place on the third Tuesday of every month in the Charmaine and Maurice Kaplan Theater.

What’s in Our Drawers

Tuesday, November 21, 7 PM

Ever wonder what our scientists collect and why? To celebrate the grand opening of our newest exhibition, Unshelved: Cool Stuff from Storage, we’ve put together a panel of Museum scientists who will share their “staff picks” of the coolest, most important, and sometimes the weirdest objects in our vast research collections. The Museum houses more than 8 million specimens, all of which are meticulously cataloged and cared for in an effort to preserve the natural history of our region for generations to come. Be regaled with stories of research expeditions past and hear how our scientists prepare specimens for our ever-growing collection of plants and animals from Southern California and Baja California. Tickets available.

Tales from the Mammal Atlas

Tuesday, December 19, 7 PM

Mammals are an integral part of the rich ecology in San Diego County—a recognized biodiversity hotspot. Despite the critical role mammals play in our environment, there has been no synthesis of their identification, distribution, natural history, or the conservation challenges they face. Until now. Join us in celebrating the release of the San Diego County Mammal Atlas with lead author and San Diego Natural History Museum Mammalogist Scott Tremor as he shares stories about some of San Diego’s most emblematic mammals. Tickets available.

Tickets for all Nat Talks are $9 for members and $12 for non-members. Doors will open at 5:30 PM giving guests the opportunity to come enjoy a bite or beverage in The Flying Squirrel Café before the talk begins. Each lecture begins at 7 PM. This program is made possible with generous support from media partner KPBS.


Through May 28, 2018

Incredible Predators, shown in the SUBARU 3D Experience in the Charmaine and Maurice Kaplan Theater, deconstructs the world of major predators as never before, taking an intimate look at the remarkable strategies they use to succeed. From the mighty blue whale to the resourceful Darwin’s bark spider, experience the thrill of the chase, the great escapes, and the determination of nature’s incredible predators. Incredible Predators reveals the unique relationship between predators and prey as a fundamental building block of ecology. Watch trailer.



We’ve branched out to provide our visitors with all-new dining experience—The Flying Squirrel Café. Located in the Atrium on Level 1, the café has been revamped to include a fresh and menu and dining experience. Glide in for a bite this fall and winter—we’re serving brewed-to-order espresso drinks and California casual fare including salads, sandwiches, burgers, wraps, and more. Beer and wine are also available in the café, which is open daily from 10 AM-4 PM. The café entrance is on the north side of the building by the giant fig tree. You do not need to pay admission to eat at the café. View menu.


Family Days

The Nat hosts monthly Family Days celebrating new exhibitions at the Museum and the natural world. Hosted by the Museum’s Education Department, participants will conduct experiments, make a craft to take home, and provide a variety of extra activities for a fun and educational family experience. Family Days run from 11 AM to 3 PM, are free with paid admission, and always free for Museum members. Learn more.

Upcoming dates:

  • November 18: Unshelved Family Day
  • December 9: Mammal Mania Family Day
  • January 15: Whale of a Time Family Day

Winter Camp

Registration Now Open

School is out, but fun and science are always in. Join us this winter break as we discover dinosaurs, investigate wacky animal behavior, and get inspired by nature’s wonders. The Nat offers flexible, single-day experiences for budding scientists in grades 1 through 5. Our talented camp staff and volunteers will make sure your child has a memorable experience and walks away with a rejuvenated interest in the natural world. Register today.

ASD Mornings

Every Second Sunday at 9 AM

ASD Mornings has been created by the for the Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) community. Once-a-month the Museum opens one hour early (at 9 AM) for adults and children on the autism spectrum and their families, friends, and caregivers. This innovative program encourages individuals to explore, play, and discover the treasures the Museum has to offer in an environment that is comfortable for them. General admission rates apply.

Upcoming dates:

  • November 12
    • Special event in collaboration with NFAR (National Foundation for Autism Research). RSVP required.
  • December 10

Nature & Me Storytime

Every Second Thursday at 10:15 AM

Calling all budding naturalists! Come enjoy an imaginative journey into nature through dynamic readings and visits to exhibitions. Nature & Me Storytime, now being offered in our brand-new, permanent exhibition Extraordinary Ideas, is held every second Thursday at 10:15 AM. Open to all ages with a parent or guardian (recommended for ages 1–5). Free with paid admission and always free for Museum members.

Upcoming dates and themes:

  • November 9: Owls and Unshelved: Cool Stuff from Storage
  • December 14: Pack Rats
  • January 11: Whales

Click here or call 877.946.7797 (M–F, 10 AM-5 PM) for more information on The Nat’s family programs.


Photography Exhibition—Baja’s Wild Side

(Note: This exhibition will be temporarily closed from January 3–February 7, 2018 due to building maintenance)

Baja’s Wild Side features the breathtaking photography of shark expert and Scripps marine biologist Dr. Dan Cartamil as he explores Baja California’s Pacific coast region. This exhibition chronicles a fragile paradise of remote and hauntingly beautiful landscapes, wildlife, and ancient rock art—on the verge of being taken over by modern civilization. Dr. Daniel Cartamil is a shark expert based at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. With more than 20 years of experience as a marine biologist, Cartamil is also an adventure photographer, environmental consultant, and avid conservationist. This exhibition is included with paid admission and free for members. Learn more.

The Cerutti Mastodon Discovery

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 published in the April 27, 2017 issue of the prestigious science journal Nature. This display is located between Fossil Mysteries and Coast to Cactus in Southern California on Level 2. Learn more.

Extraordinary Ideas from Ordinary People: A History of Citizen Science

Located in the new Eleanor and Jerome Navarra Special Collections Gallery, Extraordinary Ideas from Ordinary People: A History of Citizen Science features approximately 70 rare books, works of art, and photographs from the Research Library’s 56,000-volume collection that demonstrate how everyone can participate in science. Exhibit elements include plant and animal specimens, touchscreen interactives, and touchable models. Learn more.

Coast to Cactus in Southern California

San Diego is known for its incredibly diverse terrain, ranging from the beaches and chaparral near the coast, to the mountains and the desert farther afield. This terrain is what makes the region one of only 35 biodiversity hotspots in the world, meaning areas that have the highest concentration of different species of any geographic area of similar size. Coast to Cactus in Southern California illustrates that richness by taking visitors on a journey through these habitats and the plants and animals that live in them. Learn more.

Fossil Mysteries

From dinosaurs to mammoths, discover the rich fossil history of southern California and the peninsula of Baja California. Visitors can play the role of paleontologist: 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 the peninsula of Baja California, Mexico. Learn more.


(Note: A portion of this exhibition will be temporarily closed from January 3–February 7, 2018 due to building maintenance)

This exhibition contains nearly 200 skulls from the Museum’s research collection 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. Have a question about a skull? Use the Skulls chalkboard to ask, or get creative and draw a skull. Learn more.

Water: A California Story

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 the water we use in this region and the costs associated with this practice. Water: A California Story also looks at effects of a changing climate on the region’s water supply and reveals how southern Californians can help protect water for future generations. Learn more.

All ongoing exhibitions are included with paid admission and free for members. Click here for more information on current exhibitions.


Ocean Oasis 2D


Produced by the San Diego Natural History Museum, Summerhays Films, and PRONATURA A.C., Ocean Oasis takes viewers on a fascinating journey into two remarkably different but inextricably linked worlds—Mexico’s beautiful Sea of Cortés and the Baja California desert. Witness the beauty of life in Baja California’s rich waters and seemingly barren land. Ocean Oasis is the winner of the Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival and the International Wildscreen Film Festival. Watch trailer.

Galapagos 3D

Through January 2, 2018

In the vastness of the Pacific Ocean, there is a paradise unlike any other: the Galapagos. Amongst these remote volcanic islands, life has played out over millions of years in relative isolation. The result is a wonderland of nature, with a remarkable collection of plants and charismatic animals that have all adapted to this unique environment. Galapagos 3D give audiences the opportunity to meet giant half-ton tortoises and marine iguanas that spit sea salt; dance with the tropical albatrosses and hunt fishes with the colorful Blue-Footed Boobies; and swim with tiny penguins thousands of miles away from their natural habitats. Narrated by Jeff Corwin, this is a story of discovery, survival against the odds, and nature’s ingenuity, all brought to life in stunning 3D. Watch trailer.

Films in the SUBARU 3D Experience in the Charmaine and Maurice Kaplan Theater are free with paid general admission (except on Residents’ Free Tuesdays), Balboa Park Explorer Passes, Passports to Balboa Park, Go San Diego Cards, and for Museum members. The Museum is also offering $5 film-only tickets. To view The Nat’s film schedule or watch the trailers, click here.


Canyoneer Nature Walks

Through June 24, 2018

The 2017-2018 Canyoneers season is underway. Take a walk on the wild side with our Museum-trained naturalists. Canyoneers provide a unique opportunity to explore the wild places of San Diego, Riverside, and Imperial counties, highlighting the rich biodiversity of our region. To view a list of these free hikes on our interactive map or to learn more about the history of this longtime public program, visit our website. This year’s season is made possible with support from Subaru of America.


Gray Whale Watching Cruises

December 9, 2017 through April 22, 2018

The San Diego Natural History Museum partners with Hornblower Cruises and Events to provide an unparalleled opportunity to experience gray whale watching off the San Diego coast. Each gray whale watching experience is narrated by experienced Hornblower captains and the Museum Whalers, museum-trained naturalists. These 3.5 hour cruises are great for guests of all ages. Come meet some of nature’s largest animals and enjoy a day on the water with family and friends.


The San Diego Natural History Museum (The Nat) is the second oldest scientific institution in California and the third oldest west of the Mississippi. Founded in 1874 by a small group of citizen scientists, the Museum’s mission is to interpret the natural world through research, education, and exhibits; to promote understanding of the evolution and diversity of Southern California and the peninsula of Baja California, Mexico; and to inspire in all a respect for nature and the environment. The Museum is located at 1788 El Prado, San Diego, CA 92101 in Balboa Park and is open daily from 10 AM to 5 PM. For more information, call 877.946.7797 or visit sdnat.org. To stay up to date on Museum news, follow The Nat on Instagram and Twitter and join the discussion on Facebook.


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