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Santa Barbara- S County

Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History reopens to the public

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - One of Santa Barbara's most popular spots for children and families reopened to the public Wednesday morning at 11:00 a.m.

Doors open Wednesday through Sunday from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. (Credit: Beth Farnsworth)

"We're so excited that we've had the out-of-door spaces open here at the museum for the last month for members only but tomorrow, we're opening up admission to the general public as well," said President and CEO, Luke Swetland.

The Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History and Sea Center on Stearns Wharf shut down in mid-March just days before Governor Gavin Newsom put the entire state on lockdown.

This summer phase of reopening will allow visitors to wander the museum's outdoor grounds and bring in their own picnics, Wednesdays through Sundays, from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

"Pretty dramatically limited hours compared to what we did in a pre-coronavirus world but you know, we're gonna all get through this tunnel and we'll come back out and be in a good place," Swetland said.

Museum visitors will be limited to 80 an hour, capped at 260 a day. Hand sanitizing stations are set up outdoors and physical distancing will be implemented.

Visitors will find social distancing and hand sanitizing stations (Credit: Bryce Hanamoto)

"The big difference is, we're asking everyone to go onto our website and reserve a space because we have so many slots each hour for folks to sign up by reservation and then when they come they'll be kept socially distant through the whole experience. Currently we're still doing all one-way flow. You'll be able to experience the south side of the creek, our oaks, our ethno-botanic garden and then you come back over and you can go through the butterfly pavilion."

The pavilion is a highlight exhibit and contains a dozen species of more than 1,000 butterflies all raised on specially credited farms in Florida.

Enjoy more than 1,000 butterflies (Credit: Bryce Hanamoto)

The hope is, inside galleries at the museum as well as the entire Sea Center on will reopen at the end of July. Swetland said safety is the number one priority, however, he admits that keeping the Sea Center closed for months has been difficult.

"I think that's where our disappointment was because it is such a magical place for folks to come and get their hands wet and kind of see all the amazing things that live right here in the Santa Barbara Channel. But, we'll get there when it's safe to do so."

To make a reservation or to learn more, click the following link: https://www.sbnature.org

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Beth Farnsworth

Beth Farnsworth is the evening anchor for KEYT NewsChannel 3.