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The Natural History Museum Needs Your Help

TheNat’s newest exhibit explores the history of citizen science and wants you to participate in research


TheNat's newest permanent exhibit, Extraordinary Ideas from Ordinary People.

The treasures of The San Diego Natural History Museum’s research library—56,000 volumes strong!—have finally been unveiled to the public in the newest permanent exhibit Extraordinary Ideas from Ordinary People.

The new wing features the scientific discoveries and contributions of citizen scientists and amateur naturalists, like Laurence Klauber. The one-time CEO of San Diego Gas and Electric, who was also a rattlesnake researcher, donated many of the books on display.

Also on display are John James Audubon’s book Birds of America and his painting of the Carolina Parakeet as well as the watercolor paintings of A.R. Valentien depicting California plants—these, like the books, will be rotated periodically so light doesn’t discolor any pieces (the exhibit space is also light- and climate-controlled). The upstairs mezzanine houses the Dragon Den geared toward younger museum-goers, with books on dragons and mythical monsters.

The goal of Extraordinary Ideas is to inspire people to partake in scientific research even if they’re not necessarily fully trained. To complement its many interactive stations, the Amphibian and Reptile Atlas of Peninsular California asks the public to snap photos of creatures they find in the wild and submit them to the atlas website. From there, scientists at the museum will identify the species, determine if it is native to California, and if so, will add it to the native database. Think of it as a next-level science project.

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