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Public Gets First Look At $20 Million Dollar Project To Upgrade South Coast Museum

A man is using an air compressor to clear dust out of a small display case which will be a part of one of the more than 50 new and refurbished exhibits at an iconic South Coast museum. Teams of diorama experts, fabricators, and even Hollywood prop makers are putting the finishing touches this week on the first two phases of a massive revamp of the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History.

Museum President and CEO Luke Swetland says the refurbished Mammal Hall, and Bird Halls are reopening Saturday, as well as the new Santa Barbara Gallery. Also being unveiled is new landscaping at the entrance to the museum. Swetland says they are trying to retain some popular current exhibits, while mixing in some new ones.

The museum executive says there is new emphasis on trying to highlight nature in our backyard. Swetland says the museum’s 14 curators were heavily involved in the project. There’s a lot of potential resources to work with, because the museum has about three and a half million specimens in its permanent collection.

One of the big goals in the project is to have the museum serve as a jumping off spot, a guide so to speak, to nature in the region.

The revamped museum’s entrance area, plus the Mammal Hall, the Bird Hall, and the new Santa Barbara Gallery will open to the public for the first time on Saturday (6/2).

The final elements of the $20 million dollar Centennial Campaign, the addition of a permanent Butterfly Pavilion, and a redesigned backyard and clubhouse area are expected to be completed late this summer.

Lance Orozco has been News Director of KCLU since 2001, providing award-winning coverage of some of the biggest news events in the region, including the Thomas and Woolsey brush fires, the deadly Montecito debris flow, the Borderline Bar and Grill attack, and Ronald Reagan's funeral. 
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