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The Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History is a step into another world. From galleries to collections, the museum features information and exhibits ranging from anthropology to invertebrate studies, and boasts motorized dinosaur models.

The museum is a leading center for Chumash cultural studies, and holds a collection of archeological finds obtained through excavations by museum curators. Some of the collection is also given from private donors. All together, the museum collections consists of more than 80,000 artifacts from more than 400 sites.

Information about local history also comes in the form of cultural anthropology — the study of human societies and cultures and their development — primarily on the Chumash, including basketry produced in the region. At the museum, there are almost 200 Chumash baskets in the collection.

In the vertebrate collection, there are more than 44,000 specimens. The collection covers the prehistoric to modern day, featuring fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, eggs, and mammals.

The Dino Days series—accompanying the summer dinosaur exhibit Prehistoric Forest—gives visitors of all ages a chance to dig deeper into a dinosaur’s world with hands-on activities led by paleontologists. Dino Days programs run on select days throughout summer 2019. Check the museum’s calendar for details.

Dino Days is included with museum admission, and will be available on more select days during the summer.

Also through the summer, Butterflies Alive! will offer a walk through a beautiful garden as 1,000 living butterflies flit and flutter their way through the air — sharing their short-lived luck with whoever they land on.

Sprague Butterfly Pavilion features plants for the butterflies and places for people to enjoy the immersive atmosphere. Built in 2018, with sweeping steel ribs like the curve of butterfly wings, the pavilion is home to a dozen species of butterflies, from the native Monarch and Painted Lady to the exotic Zebra Longwing, Julia Longwing, and the White Peacock.

Grab a species ID card to see if you can spot them all.

The Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History Sea Center. Photo by Nicholas Mattson

About 3.5 miles southeast on State Street to Stearns Wharf, the SB Museum of Natural History Sea Center offers an interactive marine experience featuring close encounters with marine wildlife, permanent exhibits, special events and educational programming and the Live Dive series. It’s a chance for families to get their hands wet with sharks, sea stars, urchins and rays in their salty sea water environment.

Worlds Oceans Day Festival was held on June 8, 2019. But you can still catch other events, including Live Dive events, where attendees will have the opportunity to become submerged under the ocean’s surface to interact with SCUBA divers live in exploration of the coastal ecosystems under Stearns Wharf and the Pacific Ocean.

Head to the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History website for up-to-date info.