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HSU Natural History Museum Re-Opening Events October 8-9, 2010

The Natural History Museum’s grand re-opening is on Saturday, October 9, 2010 from 10am to 5pm.   Children’s activities are planned between 10am and 3pm. Dedication ceremony and community acknowledgements will be held at 1pm. Admission and activities are free of charge.

The Museum will also be open from 6-9pm as part of Arts Arcata, Friday, October 8, 2010. Works by Sara Starr presented with music byFor Folk Sake. Refreshments will also be provided.

Check out:

And if you haven’t seen, it, take a look at Karen’s “My Word” in yesterday’s Times-Standard:

Best wishes,

The North Coast Natural History Museum Association

I don’t know what the arguing is all about now, but I’m just glad it’s open again.  I hope it stays that way.

A benefit for the Discovery Museum. Clif Clendenen asked me to join his “Brown Act Team” of himself, Jim Lamport, Mel Kreb, and Don Brown.  We all put suits and ties over our wet suits and joined about 100 others to jump into the Humboldt Bay this morning at the F Street dock.  There were some great costumes, including a group of young hard bodies in speedos and bikinis, as a wide variety of community folk joined for a good cause.

Rex Bohn was the MC.  I had no idea he read my blog!  Lots of community leaders were present, and some of them even jumped in.

Little did I know there was a tsunami warning relating to the Chilean earthquake.  The waves haven’t hit Humboldt County yet and they’re only expected to be a foot and a half, but that could have made this morning’s event interesting.

I was expecting to be miserable based on yesterday’s storm, but there wasn’t a cloud in the sky this morning.  Lots of fun.  I’ll plan to do it again next year.  It was worth it for the complimentary bloody Mary alone.

Oh, and I was interviewed by a Channel 3 reporter.  I could be on the news tonight.

Addendum: Can’t find any videos of today up on youtube yet, but here’s last year’s parade from the museum to the waterfront.  Same feel, only it was sunny today.

And here are some of last year’s plunges.

Looks like they’ve raised pledges for half the amount which would be necessary to keep it open.  The plan submitted involves converting the institution to a 501c3 non-profit, but that would mean that the HSU administration would have to give up some control.

Guess post:

I’m hoping you may be interested in doing another post to update about the Natural History Museum and the progress and planning the group of volunteers is doing to keep the museum open. The following is a press release sent out to various media outlets. Wednesday’s meeting will be the first big push to getting our Fundraising efforts assigned and started. If you’d like more information please do not hesitate to contact me. I’d be happy to work with you on another posting/ more information to keep the word out about our efforts.

Thank You,

Cutcha Baldy
Volunteer Marketing Coordinator


A survey of potential pledges garners $27,000 in one day

On Monday August 17 a dedicated group of community volunteers and members of the Board for the Natural History Museum met at a second planning meeting to discuss the future of the museum. A survey of attendees at the meeting garnered potential pledges for $27,000 to help keep the museum open. Additionally, the group launched plans for short term fundraising and long term strategies to keep the museum open.

On August 7, 2009 Humboldt State University announced plans to close the museum due to State Budget Constraints. Immediately after the announcement concerned community members rallied their support to “Save Arcata’s Natural History Museum.” On August 12 the first community meeting was held at the Museum with over 60 people in attendance. At this meeting Dean James Howard and Associate Dean Steven Smith agreed to let the group come up with a plan by Aug. 28 to raise $120,000 and to submit strategies for long term fiscal support for the museum. A second meeting held on August 17 set forth a fundraising, marketing and long term strategies plan for the future of the museum.

The museum was opened 20 years ago with donations from companies and foundations. HSU pays about $100,000 annually for the museum director’s salary, utilities, maintenance, and a portion of the museum’s operating expenses. The museum generates a roughly equivalent amount, about $120,000, through memberships, programs, store sales, sponsorships, and donations from the public.

The next scheduled meeting to discuss the fundraising plan and proposal submission will be during the Board Meeting at the Natural History Museum on August 19, 2009 at 6:00 p.m. The group has also launched a blog ( ; twitter ( ; and Facebook page.

For the most up to date information about this event and what others can do to help out the fundraising effort please visit the blog or email . For interviews please contact Karen Reiss, 825-0465 or

In today’s Times Standard editorial, they report some hope for the Natural History Museum following reports of its imminent demise.

* To the devoted group of community members who have stepped up to help preserve the Humboldt State University’s Natural History Museum. The group, which includes College of the Redwoods Professor Karen Reiss, among others, has a daunting task ahead. First, they must come up with a plan by Aug. 28 to raise roughly $120,000 — the university’s costs through the end of the fiscal year to keep the museum open. If they are able to clear that hurdle, they then have several months to concoct a strategy to raise a daunting $300,000 to $400,000 annually to keep the museum afloat. While the task sounds enormously difficult, they have the support of nearly all Humboldt County residents, and we applaud them for mounting the heroic effort.

I really hope they can pull it together.  It is such an important resource.  A rush of new memberships would certainly register community support, and a membership gets you free entry into science museums across the country, including the Exploratorium, Lawrence Hall of Science, and OMSI.

Natural History MuseumAccording to the Arcata Eye, HSU’s Natural History Museum will be closing by the end of the month.  Permanently.

My kids will be very sad as will many others.  This is a major loss of a North Coast asset, one more move towards conversion of the county to a retirement community, especially if HSU is in as much trouble as the article describes.

We spent the weekend in the Bay Area visiting family.  Yesterday Jana needed the day to study, so I took the kids into the city for a day at the Exploratorium.  As I’ve mentioned before, by joining the Natural History Museum you benefit from the “passport program”  promoted by the Association of Science-Technology Centers.  It allows you free entry into any participating science museum over 90 miles away, and for those of us in Humboldt that’s every other participating center.  The participants include the Exploratorium, the Lawrence Hall of Science, and about 300 other participating centers, including the Turtle Bay Exploration Park in Redding.  In the Bay Area there are four or five participating centers and your membership can pay for itself in a day.

The California Academy of Sciences used to participate, but they just completed a five year reconstruction and they need money.  They’re selling their capacity of tickets every day.  Generally speaking, the ASTC participants benefit from the program.  The benefit attracts potential members.  Your costs don’t increase all that much due to increased attendance due to the program, and maybe the members of distant centers will buy something from the gift shops or spend money in their overpriced cafeterias/restaurants.  CAS has sold tickets to capacity nearly every day since they reopened apparently and so they would stand to lose some money.  Therefor they don’t participate with ASTC, nor apparently does it participate in the Association of Zoos and Aquariums reciprocity program (if you join the Sequoia Park Zoo your membership will get you into the San Francisco Zoo, the Oakland Zoo, and the Monterey Aquarium).

I had intended to take the kids to CAS, but I went to the site to learn that they strongly advise buying tickets in advance as they frequently sell out.  I noticed that the passport system was not listed as a membership benefit.  I then went to the ASTC site to find that they are no longer included on the reciprocation list.  I called over, but only got a machine.  Entrance prices are 25 bucks for an adult and 15 for each kid.  The thought of driving over and shelling out 55 dollars for the opportunity to elbow people in order for my kids to catch glimpses of the exhibits just didn’t appeal to me.  I’ll wait until the hype dies down a bit, and maybe when they’re no longer selling tickets to capacity they’ll rejoin one of the reciprocity programs.


So we went to the Exploratorium.  It’s about the 20th time I’ve taken Asher there and at least the 10th time I’ve taken Lilith, but they never tire of it.  There’s so much there and now they’re actually reaching ages where they will actually focus on the lessons the exhibits have to offer and not just the physical sensations – though my daughter still spent about 45 minutes at the magnets with the black iron powder.  I enjoyed some of those exhibits when I was a kid and they still appeal to me.  The kids watched a young volunteer dissect a cow’s eyeball.

My four-year-old daughter got separated from me at one point, but didn’t panic.  She didn’t follow my prior instructions either, and instead walked around to find me.  She was happy as a clam, and I assume she would have gone to the information desk eventually.


One change from my childhood – the cafeteria now serves organic-free range-natural fare.  My son got his usual Nieman Marcus Ranch hot dog, my daughter got her usual penne with surprisingly flavorful marinara sauce, and I slammed down some chicken wings over rice with a spicey lime cilantro sauce.  All good, and all predictably overpriced due to monopoly and probably exhorbitant rent, although given the constant lines all day you’d think economies of scale would allow for cheaper prices.  The Nieman Marcus hot dog was $4.50, as bad as any baseball park although probably better for my son.  The SF museums have all brought in, probably by some madate from Mt. Olympus downtown, California culture preferred food.  Ironically, across the bay in Berkeley, the cafeteria at the Lawrence Hall of Science offers the usual mystery meat sandwiches with small bags of Laura Scudders offering intead of the more expensive (and better tasting) Kettle Brand, although they did offer some yummy oatmeal cookies from a local bakery the last time I was there.

According to the CAS website, they have a “full service restaurant” which probably has prices through the roof.  At least the Monterey Bay Aquarium has both restaurant and buffet cafeteria options, although the food in both is top rate (no Laura Scudders).  I think the CAS management is a little out of touch, and I wonder how well it’ll do once the initial hype has subsided.  As a kid I went there three or four times per year.  I doubt we’d do that at the current prices.


My mother was reminscing about the time in which both the CAS and SF Zoo were free (I remember when the Sequoia Park Zoo was free).  Now you get nickled and dimed (or worse) at every turn of public offerings.  So when we left the Exploratorium yesterday I decided to introduce my kids to Fort Point, which was free when I was a kid.  I hadn’t been there in years, but guess what?  It’s still free!  Something fun and educational in this world is still free, besides the beach and the sunset!

It’s still as striking as it was, with the vaulted brick architecture (which the tour guide claims inspired the design of the Golden Gate Bridge, but I find that questionable given that there are plenty of bridges which proceed both the fort and bridge with “vaulting” appearances), the views of the ocean and bay.  We don’t have as much to show for history as the east coast, but this building has plenty of history.  It became obsolete almost as soon as it was built of course, but it remained a military outpost off and on until World War II when they put some anti-aircraft guns on top of it to protect the bay from the Japanese.  I think that was probably for public show to encourage the feeling of security as had the Japanese made it that far they probably would have reduced the building to rubble in minutes.

The place has been maintained nicely, with some fascinating historical exhibits in  the old quarters.  My daughter actually got scared as we passed through a dark hallway on the western portion of the second floor, but both kids loved the top floor where you can feel the salt air wind and enjoy gorgeous views in all directions while listening to the rumbling of the vehicles on the bridge above.  You can see splatterings of red paint from the bridge on the floor and wall of the fort, and my son asked why they didn’t put tarps down when repainting the bridge each time.  Excellent question.


By the way, it’s six bucks to cross the bridge now.  Thirty bucks a week if you commute for a job!  That’s almost a day’s pay if you’re earning minimum wage.


In looking for a photo of the Palace of Fine Arts (where the Exploratorium is located) I came across this photo taken in 1919 at Wikipedia (through the above link).  If anybody asks why the Marina District is so dangerous during earthquakes, I think I’ll dig up this photo.


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