What's Happening at The Nat September through December 2016

September 6, 2016

The Nat announces a full season of Nat Talks, opens new permanent and traveling exhibitions, and kicks off the Canyoneer hiking season complete with a new trail guide


Beginning in September, our NATtalks will take place on the third Tuesday of every month. Visitors are invited to join us once a month for thoughtful, engaging talks on the latest in scientific research. The 2016-2017 season of NATtalks is made possible with generous support from media partner KPBS.

Rediscovering Lost Plants in Baja California Sur

Tuesday, September 20, 7 PM

Join Dr. Jon Rebman, curator of botany at the San Diego Natural History Museum, as he talks about his 10-month remote work assignment to La Paz, Baja California Sur (BCS). His goals during this assignment were many and included increasing binational collaboration with Mexican scientists and students, conducting extensive botanical research, and writing a new bilingual plant field guide for the Cape region of BCS. Rebman will discuss his search for “lost” plants which included extremely rare, endemic species that have not been seen or collected for more than a century, of which he and his colleagues found 50.

Cat Wars: The Devastating Consequences of a Cuddly Killer

Tuesday, October 18, 7 PM

Join us for a compelling presentation by Peter Marra, whose new book speaks to the somewhat controversial topic of how domesticated cats are one of the top threats to wildlife and the environment. He will cover the historical and cultural ties between humans and cats, explain the science of extinction, population modeling, and feline diseases. Marra will also describe how a small but vocal minority of cat advocates has campaigned successfully to keep the status quo. 

Deep Life: The Hunt for the Hidden Biology of Earth, Mars, and Beyond

Tuesday, November 15, 7 PM

Tullis Onstott is a professor of geosciences at Princeton University who has done research into endolithic life deep under the Earth's surface. Named by Time Magazine as one of the 100 most influential people in America, Onstott will talk about his new book and the pioneering fieldwork that is shining vital new light on Earth’s hidden biology—a thriving subterranean biosphere that scientists once thought to be impossible.

Tickets for all NATtalks are $9 for members and $12 for non-members. Museum doors will open at 6:15 PM, with each of the lectures beginning at 7 PM in the giant-screen theater.


Canyoneer Nature Walks (September 17, 2016 through June 25, 2017)

The 2016-2017 Canyoneers season kicks off Saturday, September 17. Take a walk on the wild side with our Museum-trained naturalists. On these free, guided nature walks, hikers are encouraged to stop, look, listen, smell, and examine—revealing that all ecosystems are interconnected. 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 available hikes on our interactive map or to learn more about the history of this longtime public program, visit our website. The 2016-2017 Canyoneer season is made possible with support from Subaru of America.

NEW! Coast to Cactus: The Canyoneer Trail Guide to San Diego Outdoors

Hits shelves the week of September 12

A brand-new hiking guide titled Coast to Cactus: The Canyoneer Trail Guide to San Diego Outdoors will be available at the Museum store and more than 60 retailers in San Diego the week of September 12, just in time for the 2016-2017 hiking season. Written by theNAT’s very own Canyoneers and published by Sunbelt Publications, this book is much more than a typical hiking guide—it encourages readers to stop, look, listen, touch, smell, and examine to understand that everything is connected in nature, much like being on a nature walk with a Canyoneer. The book is also intended to be an extension of the Museum’s permanent exhibition, Coast to Cactus in Southern California, in that they both highlight the rich biodiversity that exists in local habitats. Learn more.


NOW OPEN! Permanent Exhibition—Extraordinary Ideas from Ordinary People: A History of Citizen Science

Extraordinary Ideas from Ordinary People: A History of Citizen Science opened its doors to the public August 20, 2016. Located in the new Eleanor and Jerome Navarra Special Collections Gallery, Extraordinary Ideas 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. Exhibits include plant and animal specimens, touchscreen interactives, and touchable models. Extraordinary Ideas is included with general admission and free for members. Learn more.

NOW OPEN! Photography Exhibition—The Last Hurrah: The Photography of Abe Ordover

When not wandering the world with his camera or operating art galleries in San Diego County and Santa Fe, New Mexico, Abe Ordover has been creating photographic exhibitions for theNAT. Ordover has brought us works from some of the finest nature photographers in the world and given numerous opportunities for talented local photographers to show their work at the Museum. The Last Hurrah is the final exhibition Abe is curating for the Museum before his retirement. The major solo exhibition will feature his photographic work over the last 20 years. Learn more.

COMING SOON! Special Exhibition—Animals: Machines in Motion (October 29, 2016 through January 1, 2017)

Created and developed by The Field Museum in collaboration with the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, Animals: Machines in Motion portrays animals and plants as machines built for survival, complete with pumps, pipes, insulation, motors, springs, and intelligence gathering devices. Using real specimens, life-like models, amazing video footage, and interactive displays, the exhibition investi­gates how cheetahs run so fast and fleas jump so far; how the bite force of an extinct fish made it a top predator; how a toucan stays cool in the jungle; how a Venus fly trap detects its next meal; and how many other organisms function as machines in order to survive, move, and discover. Learn more.

Permanent Exhibitions Always on View:

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.


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.

Click here for more information on current exhibitions.


NEW! 3D Film Experience—Wild Africa (Through April 29, 2017)

Wild Africa takes audiences on a spectacular journey across, over, and through the magical realms of the wildest continent on earth. Water serves as a guide, shaping wild Africa and conjuring up life wherever it journeys…above the plains on seasonal winds, cascading along raging rivers or sheltering coral cities. Audiences will be plunged into fantastic places and meet amazing creatures, discovering the fascinating secrets of this incredible world. It’s an adventure where you will truly believe the real world is more extraordinary and awe-inspiring than any fiction. From BBC Earth, Reliance Entertainment and IM Global, this is one of the most ambitious 3D nature films ever to premiere on the giant screen, fusing Hollywood techniques with the best in nature filmmaking and storytelling.  

3D Film Experience—A Reef Reborn (Through December 31, 2016)

Immerse yourself into a world of swirling sardines, majestic sea turtles, and eye-popping life. This inspiring story of transformation takes place against the stunning backdrop of the Cabo Pulmo reef in Baja California. Meet the people and animals that call this extraordinary location home. Take a journey through time to see how science, human courage, and the irrepressibility of nature resurrected a community and its greatest natural treasure. Support for this film was provided by the Paul M. Angell Family Foundation, The Walton Family Foundation, and the International Community Foundation Candeo Fund at the recommendation of Christy Walton. 

Ongoing 2D Film Experience—Ocean Oasis

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.

Films in the giant-screen theater are free with paid general admission (except on Residents’ Free Tuesdays), Passports to Balboa Park, Go San Diego Cards, and for Museum members. To view theNAT’s film schedule or watch the trailers, click here.


Family Days

The San Diego Natural History Museum 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. Ms. Frizzle offers Family Day participants a wild and wacky performance in the Museum’s giant-screen theater at noon. 

Upcoming Family Days:

  • Saturday, October 29: Halloween Family Day
  • Saturday, November 19: Topic TBD
  • Saturday, December 10: Topic TBD

ASD Mornings

ASD Mornings take place the second Sunday of every month. This program is designed by the San Diego Natural History Museum 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:

  • Sunday, September 11
  • Sunday, October 9
  • Sunday, November 13
  • Sunday, December 11

Nature & Me Storytime

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:

  • September 8: Butterflies
  • October 13: Bats
  • November 10: Owls
  • December 8: Cats

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

About the San Diego Natural History Museum
The San Diego Natural History Museum (theNAT) 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 people respect for the environment. The Museum is located at 1788 El Prado, San Diego, CA 92101 in Balboa Park. For more information, call 877.946.7797 or visit sdnat.org. Follow theNAT on Twitter and Instagram and join the discussion on Facebook.



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