San Diego Natural History Museum

The San Diego Natural History Museum is a museum in San Diego, California, located in Balboa Park.

It is the oldest scientific institution west of the Mississippi and the oldest in Southern California. The museum's current site was dedicated on January 14, 1933. In April 2001, the museum opened a new expansion that doubled its exhibit area.

The San Diego Society of Natural History is the oldest scientific organization in southern California and the third oldest west of the Mississippi. It has evolved from a small group of natural history enthusiasts and collectors to a large museum with 8 million specimens, stunning programs, and award-winning exhibits.

In 1874, only 15 years after Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species was published, two years before the telephone was invented, the San Diego Society of Natural History was founded by a group of amateur naturalists. Their purpose was to establish themselves as a major source of scientific culture.

They concentrated on discovering new species, debating technological advancements, providing information to a small but expanding group, and making significant contributions to the study of this region. People still assemble every day to do precisely that over 150 years later.

The Society selected a handful of women to be associate members barely one year after its foundation, and they went on to become notable naturalists. Rosa Smith Eigenmann is considered one of the first professional female ichthyologists (fish biologists), and Kate Sessions, well renowned for her efforts in the landscaping of Balboa Park beginning in 1892, were two the most noteworthy of them.
 
The Society has arranged nature walks around the region since its establishment. Associate Botanist Helen Chamlee created a new naturalist-guide program, the Canyoneers, in 1973, which institutionalized this practice as a museum program. They led guided nature hikes across unplanted slopes, with a concentration on Florida Canyon at first.

Chamlee was a driving force for the designation of a section of Florida Canyon as a native plant preserve, speaking at hearings and City Council sessions about the need of preserving a portion of Balboa Park in its natural state.


The Biodiversity Research Center of the California's (BRCC) was founded in 1992 to redirect collections and research on regional geology, biology, and geology. The Environmental Science Education Center (ESEC) was formed to offer educational activities on-site, off-site, and binational settings.

A large building extension was also a result of the capital campaign. With a 90,000-square-foot extension completed in April 2001, the facility's size more than doubled. On the east and north, these two additional wings completed the plan's structure from 1933.