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The Nat Unleashes Its Archives In ‘Unshelved’

Insects on display in the San Diego Natural History Museum's

Credit: San Diego Natural History Museum

Above: Insects on display in the San Diego Natural History Museum's "Unshelved" exhibit, in an undated photo.

The Nat Unleashes Its Archives In 'Unshelved'


Judy Gradwohl, president, San Diego Natural History Museum


The San Diego Natural History Museum’s latest exhibit gives patrons a glimpse of some of the eight million specimens in its permanent collection, part of a renewed focus on its own research.

The museum is cutting back on its dependence on touring exhibitions in favor of more in-house projects. The new exhibit, “Unshelved,” opens Saturday and includes hundreds of animals, plants, fossils and gems goings back more than 100 years. Some of the highlights include a whale jaw, a giant amethyst crystal and vintage taxidermy birds.

“We’re returning to our roots and really emphasizing natural history,” president Judy Gradwohl said. “Some of our past traveling exhibitions have been wonderful, but not about the natural history of our area.”

Gradwohl stepped into the position about a year ago and visited the museum’s National City warehouse as part of her orientation. She is a trained ornithologist, so she was quickly attracted to the museum’s preserved birds.

“I was taken by what one of our curators calls birds on sticks,” she said. “We used to have a display of all the species that lived in San Diego. And they’re a part of the new exhibit.”

Gradwohl joins KPBS Midday Edition on Thursday with more on the newly unearthed specimens on display.

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