This month we celebrate the 13th anniversary of the opening of the Turtle Bay Museum and I thought it was time for a little flashback. Years in the making, the Museum is the centerpiece of the Turtle Bay Exploration Park campus, the place where all our disciplines come together. The building was designed to house permanent exhibits relating to our region, such as our 22 thousand gallon aquarium, and temporary exhibitions developed in-house or rented from other museums and vendors. (Titanic anyone?)
We broke ground in April 2001, four years after the merge that formed the Exploration Park and the opening of Paul Bunyan’s Forest Camp. After years of planning, construction moved quickly and the new building began to take shape over the summer of 2001.
The west end of the building, which is now our main entrance and houses our Museum Store and Coffee Bar, transformed quickly from “muddy construction site” to “ready to open.” When you visit today, you will see that it is still transforming. Mature plants show the passage of time. Wider sidewalks, colorful banners, benches and other amenities have helped turn this plaza into a community gathering place.
Once the outside was buttoned up, work began in earnest on the inside. Complicated construction and exhibit fabrication took time and painstaking design and craftsmanship from many companies and individuals. A team of Turtle Bay staff worked with designers to decide on the exhibits and create the content. Staff “hard hat” tours created a lot of excitement for the project as it transformed from a shell of a building into a museum.
When the museum opened in 2002, the entrance was through the Visitor Center, the Sundial Bridge was under construction, and the driveway was still dirt. Hundreds of people came to celebrate the new museum. We were even featured on an episode of Huell Howser’s California’s Gold.
Things have changed in 13 years. We have hosted 79 large temporary exhibitions and dozens of smaller ones. We added features like Artifact of the Month, Spotlight on Northstate History, and Famous Families and did a complete renovation to one permanent gallery. This year we added a saltwater tank and a beaver to our aquatic experience. If you haven’t visited lately, it’s time to drop by and see how your museum has grown.
The Vault is always open!
Julia Pennington Cronin
Curator of Collections & Exhibits
Follow me on Twitter @CuratrixJulia