Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Jumping Climbing Over Under Place

Because I still have some super awesome connections at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, I convinced my good friend (and nature evangelist) Elaine Gibson to give us a sneak peek of their soon-to-open outdoor play space. Most people are familiar with the Museum's many excellent exhibit halls, as well as its superlative planetarium. However, I would say that probably 98% of visitors do not fully appreciate or utilize the 40 acres of open land the Museum owns. This land runs along both sides of Mission Creek, and is one of Santa Barbara's greatest unknown treasures.
To remedy the growing (and alarming) trend of children being underexposed to actual nature in real life, the Museum has created a play space for all ages. It features an entrance through Boulder Alley; a stream with rocks for climbing, moving, jumping on and even throwing (as long as you don't throw at people or animals, Stellan!); a long log perfect for walking on top of; a big dirt hill in which they'll be putting a clear tunnel so you can see what's under the dirt; and a circle of stumps for sitting or hopping on. The Museum will use this for its outdoor field trip programs, and it will be available to all Museum visitors for open exploration.
Stellan loved it. Luh-uh-uhved it. The title of the post pretty accurately explains what we did. Elaine was the perfect hostess, and didn't have too much trouble encouraging Stellan to literally jump in with both feet. We spent almost three hours there. Yes, my two-year-old spent three hours in one place. It was idyllic and extremely engaging, and I'm sure it's going to become a local favorite. The official opening is September 20th, and if you're in the area, go! Admission is free that day, so no excuses.
The following slideshow is somewhat lengthy, as I put included all the best photos from the day and uploaded them in case the Museum wants to use any of them for press purposes. You'll get a feel for how beautiful it is (and how much I still miss working at a place like the Museum) in just a couple of slides. If you make it to the end, you'll see the cutest Stellan photos.


Br said...

Wow! A great time was had by all, even the arm chair viewer. It was such a let down to come to the end. I kept hitting the enter button so I could see more pictures!

Katie said...

You had me at free. Thanks for the tip!

Santa Barbara Wild said...

We are not quite ready for Sunday but ready enough. We had the Docent welcome back party in the space on Wednesday evening and we all felt like kids again. For most of us, that's a LONG stretch. So happy to share this space with you and Stellan. How about "Our Backyard: A Natural Learning Place" or "Space"?
Offer suggestions for the name.
Love to you guys,
The Nature Evangelist