San Diego Natural History Museum--Your Nature ConnectionAbout SDNHM

Building for the 21st Century

The New Museum

Building Photos

History of the Museum

The New Museum

Completed and dedicated in March, 2001, the new construction more than doubled the size of the old building, from 65,000 square feet of usable space to approximately 150,000 square feet.

The expansion provided much-needed new space for the Museum's research, educational, and administrative activities, as well as the following new features:

North-facing entrance

The museum now has two major entrances -- the Prado entrance on the south, and a north-facing entrance by the large fig tree, opening into a large atrium. The facade of the north entrance floats in a wall of glass, designed to harmonize with the ornate historic south facade, and yet represent contemporary design.

Grand Atrium

This signature architectural feature will provide one of the great public spaces in San Diego for major events. Designed as a statement of arrival to the new museum, the Grand Atrium is the departure point for permanent and traveling exhibits, theater presentations, education programs, scientific research, and the retail store. This spectacular space features four balconies surrounding a large gathering space covered by a glass ceiling.

Multipurpose Theater

Off of the atrium is a 300-seat theater/auditorium designed for high-quality multimedia presentation and large-screen format films. This room is ideal for business and scientific conferences, public speakers, and concerts. The theater presents a large format film about southern California and Baja California as a regular part of the museum visitor's experience.

Traveling Exhibition Hall

An 8500-square-foot hall below the atrium provides a grand space for traveling exhibits more than 50 percent larger than the old space. This enables us to schedule major national exhibitions that until now were unavailable because of their size. The hall is also used for large events such as the annual members' meeting, a dinner dance, a festival or other special event.

Permanent Exhibit Floor

Permanent exhibits will tell the story of the region served by the Museum -- the Baja California peninsula and southern California. Exhibits will be designed to provide a window on the natural history of the region with state-of-the-art dioramas, interactive exhibits with computer and multimedia presentations, live animals, and more. One by one, the new halls will be filled with new exhibitions.

Library Reading Room

Entrance to the research library and collections of the Museum will become more accessible to scientists and members of the public through a classically-styled reading room reminiscent of the great libraries of the world. Access to collections and archives through computer interface is one feature of this well-appointed room.