Archived Exhibitions

Best of Nature Photography Show 2011
September 1, 2011 through November 6, 2011

The Best of Nature Photography Show is an annual photography competition used to highlight the works of local, national, and international works by a variety of individuals with different skillsets.

Lizards & Snakes: Alive!
October 16, 2010 through April 3, 2011

Small and shy or big and fierce? Bright as a jewel or hardly visible? Four legs, two legs, or no legs at all? When talking about lizards and snakes—the squamates—the answer is usually ... Yes! This ancient group, whose scientific name is Latin for “scaled,” is more diverse than mammals and as old as dinosaurs. And they’re almost everywhere: harsh desert to lush rainforest, high in the treetops, and beneath the ground. Whatever the environment, one of the 8,000 squamate species on Earth calls it home.

William Neill: Intimate Landscapes
June 19, 2010 through August 15, 2010

This photography exhibition presents works by William Neil. Enjoy images of rocks, flowers, and flowing rivers, and learn why the artist focuses on taking outdoor photographs of the essential elements of nature.

May 1, 2010 through October 24, 2010

ART AND THE ANIMALis the flagship exhibition of the Society of Animal Artists (SAA), and refers to both the Annual Exhibition of the SAA, and the traveling exhibition and tour that was generated from it. This 50th-anniversary exhibition contains approximately 150 flatworks and sculptures. The SAA is regarded worldwide as the most prestigious artist-membership organization dedicated to the theme of animals in art.

Dinosaurs: Ancient Fossils, New Discoveries
March 27, 2010 through September 6, 2010

Take the most up-to-date look at how scientists are reinterpreting many of the most persistent and puzzling mysteries of the dinosaurs—how they looked, how they behaved, how they moved—and ultimately, the complex and hotly debated theories of why they became extinct. Discover how current thinking about dinosaur biology has evolved and changed dramatically over the past two decades; learn about ongoing cutting-edge research by Museum scientists and other leading paleontologists around the world.

Charles Cramer: Lyrical Landscapes
January 15, 2010 through May 23, 2010

This stunning photography exhibition features images of nature taken by Charles Cramer and highlights the artist’s dye-transfer printing techniques.

DARWIN: Evolution | Revolution
November 7, 2009 through February 28, 2010

Explore the life and work of Charles Darwin, the biologist whose revolutionary theories on natural selection and evolution changed the face of science forever. This year marks the 200th anniversary of Darwin’s birth and the 150th anniversary of the publishing of On the Origin of Species. In addition to Darwin’s own manuscripts, notebooks, letters, artworks, and personal objects, the exhibition also contains fossils, taxidermy mounts, and living specimens.

Wild California
November 1, 2009 through January 1, 2010

Wild California features works of art by local painters and photographers who have captured California’s beauty. The exhibition is complete with taxidermy specimens that date back to the 1920s as well as eight original watercolors by A.R. Valentein.

Baja California
July 15, 2009 through January 3, 2010

The Ordover Gallery features works by Ralph Lee Hopkins and additional images taken by American and Mexican photographers. The works on display depict the Sonoran Desert, the Gulf of California (Sea of Cortés), and the Pacific Ocean.

The Osa: Where the Ocean Meets the Rainforest
March 14, 2009 through June 21, 2009

The Osa: Where the Ocean Meets the Rainforest features fine-art photography by Roy Toft. Photographs from the Osa Peninsula are on display and focus on conveying the character and spirit of each animal.

BODY WORLDS & The Brain–Our Three Pound Gem
March 1, 2009 through October 4, 2009

BODY WORLDS & The Brain–Our Three Pound Gem are the original, precedent-setting anatomical exhibitions of real human bodies. Created by physician, anatomist, and inventor of plastination Dr. Gunther von Hagens, the exhibition offers visitors an in-depth view of the intricately designed human body.

Buddhist Earth: Sacred Places/Sacred Work, Tibet and Other Lands
November 1, 2008 through March 1, 2009

Buddhist Earth: Sacred Places/Sacred Work, Tibet and Other Lands presents fine art by Kenneth Parker. The exhibition reveals the religious monuments, pray flags, modest homes, and dramatic mountains of Tibet among multiple other locations.

The Art of Robert Bateman
November 1, 2008 through February 1, 2009

The Art of Robert Bateman includes 50 pieces from this well-honored and acclaimed artist, plus works on paper including examples of his original prints, personal sketchbooks, and more.

Cool Globes: Hot ideas for a Cooler Planet
October 15, 2008 through November 30, 2008

Cool Globes: Hot ideas for a Cooler Planetis designed to inspire public dialogue and encourage individuals, corporations, and government officials to take action to stop global warming. Created by environmental activist and mother of four Wendy Abrams,Cool Globesis an engaging and educational exhibition that features 42 larger-than-life sculpted globes. Also features information about marine artist Robert Wyland.

August 15, 2008 through November 9, 2008

Autumn is a photography exhibition focusing on magnificent fall imagery ranging from subtle, interpretive works to grand landscapes by Abe Ordover and several other artists.

Water H2O=Life
July 1, 2008 through November 30, 2008

Water H2O=Life focuses on informing visitors about the importance of water by allowing them to investigate its physical and chemical properties, analyze how water is used worldwide, realize that this element is a finite resource, and much more.

Spirits in Stone—Art & Animals of Africa
July 1, 2008 through October 12, 2008

Spirits in Stone—Art & Animals of Africa displays sculptures of internationally-acclaimed Zimbabwean Shona stone sculptors as well as masks, jewelry, and baskets. Visitors can see an open enclosure with African lizards and various types of African bugs, fish, frogs, snakes, and more.

Enraptured: Works by Mitch Dobrowner
May 17, 2008 through August 3, 2008

Enraptured: Works by Mitch Dobrowner features the artist’s photographs of the Earth’s landscape. From infrared images of luminescent foliage to rockscapes beneath furious skies, this exhibition is sure to impress all nature enthusiasts.

A Day in Pompeii
February 15, 2008 through June 15, 2008

A Day in Pompeii features more than 250 authentic artifacts from the forgotten and destroyed city society of Pompeii. The exhibition vividly reveals the volcano's victims, frozen in their last moments. In addition, beautiful frescoes, jewelry, statues, and household items are on view.

Dead Sea Scrolls
June 29, 2007 through December 31, 2007

The largest, most comprehensive exhibition of the Dead Sea Scrolls assembled to date in the U.S. The exhibition features authentic scrolls, illuminated biblical manuscripts, ancient artifacts, landscape and aerial photography, and interactive displays about science, discovery, and exploration.

Contemporary Israeli Photography
June 21, 2007 through January 7, 2008

Contemporary Israeli Photography depicts the faces of Israel’s founding leaders, children in Torah class, ancient Israeli architecture, and religious rituals. This exhibition is intended to coincide with The Dead Sea Scrolls exhibition also on view at the Museum.

Playing with Time
February 3, 2007 through April 29, 2007

Playing with Time challenges visitors to slow down time or speed it up to explore the natural world as never before. Experiment with high-speed photography, time-lapse videos, natural records of change like eroded rocks and lake cores. 

Dinosaurs: Reel & Robotic
May 27, 2006 through January 1, 2007

Dinosaurs: Reel & Robotic shows how Hollywood’s biggest stars—dinosaurs—have come to life in the movies. The exhibition explains how dinosaurs evolved over time through artistic portrayal and advances in scientific information and technology.

GENOME: The Secret of How Life Works
January 28, 2006 through May 1, 2006

GENOME: The Secret of How Life Works reveals the mysteries of the human genome, narrates the last two centuries of discovery, and unravels the implications of gene therapy for the future of medical science and healthcare. Visitors can experience large interactive areas that replicate how the human body works.

Wildlife Art
August 12, 2005 through January 1, 2006

Wildlife Art displays wildlife-themed artwork with incredibly diverse mediums and style: everything from abstract sculpture to vivid wildlife portraiture is represented.

Backyard Monsters
May 31, 2005 through January 1, 2006

Backyard Monsters gives visitors a bugs-eye view of life. Giant, robotic insects, up to 11 feet high and 22 feet long with lifelike motion are paired with interactive learning displays and one of the world's largest private specimen collection. Visitors feel miniaturized in the giant backyard setting, which gives them a more general understanding of what these insects experience on a daily basis.

Natural Treasures: Past and Present
May 20, 2005 through September 5, 2005

Using the San Diego Natural History Museum’s research collections, Natural Treasures: Past and Present focuses on educating guest on California’s regional plants and animals, both past and present.

Chocolate: The Exhibition
February 5, 2005 through May 1, 2005

From the ancient rainforest to the supermarket shelf, the San Diego Natural History Museum takes visitors on a delicious expedition. Chocolate: The Exhibition explores the lush environment in which the cacao tree originated, pre-Columbian perspectives on chocolate, and how chocolate became a commodity in the world marketplace. 

Earth, Wind & WILDFIRE
October 1, 2004 through April 1, 2007

Earth, Wind & WILDFIRE is a comprehensive exhibition that explores the powerful forces that shape the landscape of southern California: fire, nature, and people. This exhibition is a testimonial to the splendor of nature, the power and inevitability of fire, the responsibility humans have for living with nature and fire, and the inspiration of recovery in nature and the community.

Fossil Hunters San Diego
March 1, 2004 through September 5, 2005

Fossil Hunters San Diego shows visitors how the Museum's paleontologists hunt for local fossils—what they look for, the tools they use, how they excavate and transport the fossils, and how they prepare and study them. The reward of the hunt is discovering what the fossils reveal about San Diego's fascinating past.

Feathered Dinosaurs and the Origin of Flight
February 7, 2004 through January 2, 2005

Feathered Dinosaurs and the Origin of Flight is the largest display of significant fossils regarding the origins of birds ever shown outside the People's Republic of China. This exhibition presents new fossil evidence and stimulates both the scientific and the popular understanding of what dinosaurs were like and how they are related to birds. The exhibit includes 34 original fossils, 15 life-size sculptural restorations of the fossils, historical models, and more than two dozen large photomurals and graphics.

Plant Portraits: The California Legacy of A.R. Valentien
December 12, 2003 through September 7, 2004

Plant Portraits: The California Legacy of A.R. Valentien displays 80 stunning watercolor paintings of California plants by A.R. Valentien.

Spirits in Stone: The New Face of African Art
October 24, 2003 through November 30, 2003

Spirits in Stone: The New Face of African Art returns to the San Diego Natural History Museum and displays sculptures of internationally acclaimed Zimbabwean Shona stone sculptors, as well as masks, jewelry, and baskets. This exhibit, while featuring the masterpieces of Zimbabwe's most collected and best-known sculptors, also proudly introduces the stunning works of Africa's newest generation of young men and women artists.

The Endurance: Shackleton's Legendary Antarctic Expedition
October 11, 2003 through January 6, 2004

The Endurance: Shackleton's Legendary Antarctic Expedition is devoted to the epic story of Sir Ernest Shackleton's 1914 expedition. The Endurance presents more than 150 compelling photographs taken by ship photographer Frank Hurley. It also features a computer interactive that allows visitors to experience the challenges of open-boat navigation and several videos narrated by actor Liam Neeson that examine the historic, geographic, and scientific context of the voyage.

Spirit of the Mountains: Images by Thomas D. Mangelsen
August 1, 2003 through February 9, 2004

Spirit of the Mountains: Images by Thomas D. Mangelsen displays 30 images by the talented artist expressing the beauty and intricacy of the wilderness over his nine month adventure.

Glow: Living Lights
May 24, 2003 through September 7, 2003

Glow: Living Lights is the first-ever exhibition to explore the phenomenon of bioluminescence—an organism's ability to produce its own light. Visitors enter a darkened gallery filled with large organic-looking blocks that contain rare photographs and film footage of bioluminescent animals and organisms, research-related artifacts, live and preserved specimens, and engaging hands-on activities that are sure to be of interest to all visitors.

FORE! The Planet
February 1, 2003 through May 4, 2003

FORE! The Planet features 18 holes of indoor golf in which players test their putting skills and environmental know-how while gaining a better understanding of the world in which they live. Each hole uses playful components and colorful graphics to explore themes such as dinosaur extinction, bat sonar, pollution, and recycling in a way that's fun and humorous for children as well as adults.

Rare Places in a Rare Light: The Wildlands Photography of Robert Turner
January 3, 2003 through September 1, 2003

This exhibition features dramatic color landscape work by world renowned local photographer Robert Turner. Turner seeks to isolate compositions in nature that will not only succeed at the level of pure form but will also communicate the emotional essence of a place.

January 1, 2003 through September 2, 2003

DOGS! uses the familiarity and love of these four-legged friends to explore science and biological concepts. The exhibition has four themed sections including multi-media displays, artifacts, photomurals, and dioramas of taxidermy wild canines and sculpted modern dog breeds.

California's Native Grandeur
October 12, 2002 through January 5, 2003

California's Native Grandeurfeatures more than 40 oil paintings of California landscapes from the late 19th and early 20th centuries by artists whose works inspired early environmentalists. The traveling exhibition divides the paintings into specific eco regions—the south coast, the central coast, the deserts, the great central valley, the Sierra Nevada, and the north coast and Shasta-Cascades.

Animal Eyes
September 28, 2002 through December 31, 2002

Animal Eyes explores our on-going quest to understand what animals see. By comparing what we know about human vision, we can learn more about animal vision. This exhibition focuses on five different categories: different kinds of eyes, different places on different faces, night eyes, seeing in color, and animals with more than two eyes.

After the Dinosaurs: When Crocodiles Ruled
June 29, 2002 through September 3, 2002

After the Dinosaurs: When Crocodiles Ruled focuses on climate, geologic, ecosystem, and evolutionary changes that form the modern world. This exhibition has three major sections: dioramas bring to life prehistoric plants and animals in a re-created tropical North Dakota; a section explores how geologists and paleontologists figure out what the world was like millions of years ago; and a recreation of the Wannagan Creek Quarry.

T. REX on Trial
February 16, 2002 through January 5, 2003

T. REX on Trial engages visitors in a crime scene scenario with animatronic dinosaurs. Guests must use the scientific method in order to determine which dinosaur is innocent or guilty of eating fellow dinosaurs. Hands-on activities and text panels show how paleontologists decipher clues found in a dinosaur's skull shape, arms, and legs to understand the animal’s behavior.

Monarca: Butterfly Beyond Boundaries
October 6, 2001 through January 6, 2002

Monarca: Butterfly Beyond Boundaries takes a dynamic and interactive approach to presenting the life cycle, migration patterns, and environmental threats to Monarch butterflies. Featuring exciting interactive multimedia displays, games and costumes for children, oversized models, and live butterflies and plants, Monarca combines technology with living creatures to create an unforgettable educational experience for all ages.

Epidemic! The Natural History of Disease
April 6, 2001 through August 12, 2001

Epidemic! The Natural History of Disease focuses on learning about diseases and how scientists work to solve some of these mysteries. Examine outbreaks from a natural history perspective, which incorporates scientific fact with what we know about evolution, ecology, and human culture. Gain insight into the intricate relationships between microbes and humans.

BEARS: Imagination and Reality
October 21, 2000 through January 4, 2001

From the giant grizzly to the cuddly "teddy," for centuries humans have been fascinated by one of the most potent symbols of the wilderness—bears. This exhibition explores the myths, legends, folklore, and art surrounding bears. North American Indian artwork and artifacts show how native cultures have viewed bears over the course of time. 

The Dinosaurs of Jurassic Park: The Lost World
May 25, 2000 through September 2, 2000

The Dinosaurs of Jurassic Park: The Lost World features 32 species of dinosaurs from all corners of the earth, some never seen before in North America. The exhibition highlights the proper place in dinosaur evolution held by the major dinosaur groups, which date back 225 million years to the Triassic Period, followed by the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods, to their extinction 65 million years ago.

Desert and Sea: Visions of Baja California
October 2, 1999 through April 10, 2000

See the Baja peninsula and southern California through the eyes of six accomplished photographers from Mexico and the United States. Intriguing geology, unusual climate patterns, and dramatic weather have created an astounding diversity of life that adapts in different ways. More than eighty stunning photographs display the amazing consequences of these natural forces.

The Nature of Diamonds
March 27, 1999 through September 19, 1999

The Nature of Diamonds features more than 100 breathtaking gems and jewels on loan from public and private collections all over the world. Visitors can experience the fascination of diamonds in a walk-through mine tunnel and a dramatic walk-in vault where the most dazzling and rare objects are on view. 

SHARKS! Fact and Fantasy
October 17, 1998 through January 3, 1999

SHARKS! Fact and Fantasy addresses the common belief that all sharks are incredibly dangerous by inviting visitors to walk through a portrayal of the shark’s natural environment. The exhibition offers interesting facts and interactive games that educate guests about not only sharks that live in the San Diego region, but all species of shark as well.

REPTILES! Real and Robotic
February 21, 1998 through September 7, 1998

Reptiles are often viewed as mysterious and misunderstood. This exhibition examines the long, fascinating history of reptiles and their amazing diversity of forms, inspiring us to look closely, to get behind the myths, and discover the reality.

Cats! Wild to Mild
November 15, 1997 through January 4, 1998

Cats! Wild to Mild offers interactive displays and dioramas featuring 35 wild and 36 domestic breeds of cats. Besides the animals on display, the exhibition also informs visitors about cat biology and behavior, the history of domesticate cats, the endangerment and conservation of wild cats, and responsible pet care.

October 11, 1997 through October 26, 1997

The Shona people have been thriving in Southeastern Africa for more than 1,000 years and have been sculpting for almost that long. Shona features more than 2,000 pieces on display and available for purchase. World-renowned Shona artist Kennedy Musekiwa sculpted several pieces on-site during the exhibition.