The museum's exhibit master plan is currently under development. The exhibits will be hands-on and highly engaging, and explore the natural world of the North State. The region's past, present, and future will be investigated through state-of-the-art exhibits that hold the visitor's attention and encourage repeat visits.
The exhibits will be valuable tools for educators at all levels as well as the general public to gain a broader understanding of our region's unique history, flora, and fauna, and the challeneges that we face going into the future.
The building architecture plays a key role, and the building itself serves as the museum's first exhibit. Visitors approach the building along a walk, which is bordered by a geologic time wall. The wall depicts significant events in the geologic development of the North State, including the prehistoric animal life and mountain building episodes from the last 250 million years. The length of the wall is scaled (so many years per inch) to help visitors visualize the immensity of geologic time.
A large, circular landmark, reminiscent of the region’s mountains and volcanoes, towers above the entryway. Just as humans have used the significant mountains of the region from time immemorial as way-finding aids, this feature helps bring the modern visitor to the museum entrance. The end of the geologic time wall culminates at the entrance and ticketing area of the museum. From there, visitors enter the lobby under a light shaft created by the mountainous feature above.
Beyond the lobby, visitors enter the Valley Gallery, a linear space that is high and well-lit. Running through the floor of the Valley Gallery is a sinuous representation of the Sacramento River. Just as the river is the backbone of the North State, so too is the Valley Gallery space the backbone of the museum. Upon the floor, joining the Sacramento River pattern, are several significant tributaries, including Big Chico Creek, whose path visitors follow from the entryway into the gallery space.
The other public spaces of the museum are accessed from the Valley Gallery, including the Changing Exhibit Gallery, the Discovery Room, a Demonstration Laboratory, and the Permanent Exhibit Gallery. The building will also include a museum store, administration space, work and storage areas, and utility and mechanical spaces.
We will incorporate outdoor spaces into the museum’s exhibit plan as well, taking advantage of the favorable weather of the region to create elements outdoors that we could not do inside. Outdoor areas include the entry plaza near the road; Disocvery Plaza; Founders Plaza; Chico Creek amphitheater; south end “delta” area; and the northern forest area.
The future expansion of the museum will include enlarging the Permanent Exhibit Gallery, the Changing Exhibit Gallery, and adding more storage and educational programming space.