Founded as—and still officially named—the San Diego Society of Natural History, the organization traces its roots to an enthusiastic group of amateur naturalists who came together in 1874 to study the unique flora and fauna of our region. Now known as the San Diego Natural History Museum (and affectionately referred to as The Nat), the organization focuses on the natural history and unique biodiversity of our binational region. We welcome nearly 400,000 people into the Museum each year, host environmental education programs in the community, and are engaged in scientific research throughout Southern California and the Baja California Peninsula.
While many people know The Nat as a flagship institution in Balboa Park, we are much bigger than our building. The world we live in is an amazing place. We want everyone to understand it better, enjoy it more, and love it as much as we do, so we’ll all protect it for the future. Because we believe that nature is the biggest exhibition of all.
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; and to inspire in all a respect for nature and the environment.
We believe science and society are inextricably linked. Our Museum is committed to fostering attitudes and behaviors that promote and value diversity, equity, and inclusion. We dedicate our work to regional biodiversity and we strongly support our vibrant community. Our hopes for a sustainable approach to the natural world rely on a society that consciously makes unbiased choices and values mutual respect, social justice, and cooperation in all aspects of life. Learn more.
The San Diego Natural History Museum recognizes and respects the indigenous peoples as traditional stewards of the land. Specifically, we recognize the Kumeyaay people whose ancestral homelands the Museum currently occupies. We extend our respect and gratitude to the indigenous people who have lived on and cared for this land since time immemorial. As the original caretakers and conservationists, we honor their continued legacy of understanding, caretaking, and upholding the pillars of biodiversity. Learn more.
We are accredited by the American Alliance of Museums, which certifies the Museum continues to demonstrate a professional level of operation in accordance with AAM’s standards of excellence.
Our organization is a member of the Balboa Park Cultural Partnership, a collaboration of 26 arts, science, and culture institutions in Balboa Park. By working together, we produce major outcomes that no single organization could achieve alone.
In 2009, the Museum was awarded LEED for Existing Buildings: Operations & Maintenance Certification for efficiency in energy use, lighting, water and material use as well as incorporating a variety of sustainable strategies.
The Museum is proud to have a Four-Star rating by Charity Navigator and a Gold Seal of Transparency by Candid (formerly GuideStar). These ratings from the most trusted nonprofit evaluators in the industry designate The Nat as a “Give with Confidence” organization, underscore our commitment to donors, and speak to the financial health, accountability, and transparency of our institution.