Mad River Union
ARCATA – Many remember visiting Humboldt State University’s Natural History Museum as a student, a parent or just out of curiosity and interest.
The museum has been around for almost 25 years, providing student programs and fun natural history education for people of all ages. About three years ago, HSU could no longer fund the museum and Humboldt Science Mathematics Center/Redwood Science Project adopted it, reopened it with a smaller budget and funded museum operations with grants, funding and community support.
Jeffrey White, director of the museum and an HSU professor of biological science, says that it was kept open because “We were dedicated to trying to keep the Natural History Museum open for the K-12 programs.”
Recently, the museum has begun a significant new project: it is in the process of moving into the old Figueiredo’s Video Movies location at 1242 G St. in Arcata.
The Natural History Museum’s new building, which measures out to 2,700 square feet, was purchased and donated by Redwood Capital Bank, Humboldt County’s only completely local bank. The museum plans to add a portable classroom behind the new building to accommodate school and group visits and programs, in addition to other changes. Pierson Company is the contractor of the new museum space.
Redwood Capital Bank plans to lease the former museum location, a building of 3,648 square feet at 1315 G St. in Arcata that was donated to HSU by Wells Fargo Bank. The building will be the site of the bank’s new Arcata branch, which will be the third in Humboldt County (the other two are in Fortuna and Eureka).
The contractor on the new bank location has not yet been determined, as the project is still in design and has not yet gone out to bid.
The current museum building is perfectly suited for bank use, as it already has a vault and space for a drive-up teller window. Construction is being finished at the new museum site and it is preparing for the big move, although the date has not been set.
White described this year as “an exciting time for the museum. This is a great opportunity that Redwood Capital Bank is offering us.” He added that, “Without the community support, this would not have happened.”
Even though the museum will move locations, the new bank building will still display several exhibits from the museum as well as the giant hanging pterodactyl and white shark that are too large to hang from the low ceiling of the museum’s new location.
The new museum building will display many of the exhibits that occupied the former location, such as the Walk Through Time, in addition to variations of the original exhibits which will be redesigned and presented in different ways. These new designs and presentations are being developed by a number of people including Jeffrey White, Julie Van Sickle, museum curator Rick Paselk, the HSU Facilities Department, K. Boodjeh Architects and other Natural History Museum staff and consultants.
In addition to the remaining exhibits that will occupy the new bank building, museum exhibits will be installed in each of the Redwood Capital Bank branches, some of which will be exhibits from current museum displays, and others that are being developed with museum specimens that are not currently on display. These new displays are being worked on by the HSU Geoscience Capstone students under the instruction of Sue Cashman. Bank managers and the museum team are also helping to develop the new displays that will be installed in the bank branches and the new museum location.
A partnership has been developed which is greatly beneficial to both the museum and bank. They are hoping for ongoing relations and are very excited about the partnership’s potential. Julie Van Sickle, manager of the Natural History Museum, stated that “We are all looking forward to the new partnership with RCB as well as the new chapters that lay ahead for the Natural History Museum.”
The Natural History Museum is grateful for the opportunities that have been presented to them by HSU and Redwood Capital Bank, which allow the museum to continue to provide educational programs to children in addition to being an important part of the local community.
“We are very happy about the long-term commitment from Humboldt State University for the museum as well as our partnership with Redwood Capital Bank. Redwood Capital Bank is fabulous and we are very excited about our partnership with them,” said White.
Sue Ringwald, manager of the Arcata Redwood Capital Bank echoed White’s optimism by stating that “Redwood Capital Bank is so excited about the future, being partners with the museum, and all of the wonderful things that are ahead of all of us.” Ringwald also expressed that “We are really focused on the museum.”
During October’s Arts! Arcata, the museum and bank held a farewell to the museum’s old building, which included music by For Folk’s Sake!, a 10 percent discount on everything in the store, a book signing by Michael Kauffmann for his new book Conifers of the Pacific Slope, a silent auction. Food was generously provided by the bank.
The Natural History Museum will be open at its current location through October, so be sure to stop by one last time before they move, and expect a new and completely local bank to be appearing in the old museum building some time within the next six months.
Owned by HSU and located at 1315 G St. in Arcata, the Natural History Museum is open Tuesdays through Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $2 to $3 per person, except for every second Tuesday and special events when admission is free.
(707) 826-4479, humboldt.edu/natmus