Just west of California's scenic Highway 1, midway between Los Angeles and San Francisco, the Morro Bay State Park Museum of Natural History sits on a hill overlooking the Morro Bay Estuary. In addition to panoramic views of the coastline, the view from the museum includes world-famous Morro Rock.
The Museum of Natural History - the only one in the California State Park system -- opened in 1962. It served over 10,000 visitors in its first two years alone, and now between 45,000 and 50,000 people visit the Museum annually, including 5,000 children who participate free-of-charge in the docent-led school group programs that support California's required science and social studies standards.
Construction on the Museum's three-phase Modernization Project began in 1993 with a remodel of the entry, gift shop, and restrooms. In 1997, Phase II -- the rotunda area -- was completed. The Phase III Modernization of the main hall became a reality in 2002, featuring state-of-the-art interactive exhibits especially created for the Morro Bay site. The new exhibits were developed and designed by Exhibit Group Giltspur, a prestigious internationally known design firm that was selected after a nationwide search. Giltspur has also created exhibits for the Smithsonian and the J. Paul Getty Museum.
The Natural History Museum has undergone a complete redesign of the 1960 circa exhibits and replaced them with new state of the art displays focused on the ecology of the Morro Bay estuary. New exhibits feature interactive displays to educate the visiting public about the ecology of the Morro Bay estuary. Several of the exhibits feature touch screens that provide visitors the opportunity to find out what the forces of nature are doing at that moment in time. Visitors can build a sand dune, operate the hydrologic cycle and dig into the food pit to create their own food chains.
Location - Cost - Hours
The Museum of Natural History is located in Morro Bay State Park and is within minutes of the Heron Rookery, Montaña de Oro State Park, the El Moro Elfin Forest and Audubon's Sweet Springs Nature Preserve. The Museum overlooks Morro Bay which is both a State and National Estuary. Entry fees are $3 for adults and free to children 16 and under. The Museum is open from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm every day of the year except Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day.