The Western Science Center is a permanent museum exhibit located in Hemet, California.
This facility is by far the most interactive museum I have ever visited, and the admission is only $8 per adult and $6 per child. The discovery of dinosaur relics in the Inland Empire and the museum’s existence is not common knowledge.
The entrance to the museum is a long hallway with different dinosaur eras posted on top of the bars, from the Triassic period all the way to the Cretaceous period. You’ll be inspired to explore, by looking at the artifacts that are on display in the lobby and museum gift shop.
Upon entering the exhibit room where most of the prominent relics are on display, it's literally a dinosaur information eutopia.
Bones, bones everywhere!
An array of dinosaur and mastodon fossils were found in the late 1990’s, while excavating the ground where Diamond Valley Lake is located today. The mammoth and mastodons who lived in Diamond Valley most likely found it ideal because it was a moist wetland habitat. One of the tusks were the size of an 8 year old child. I know this because my granddaughter stood next to the display to measure.
Along the sides of the room are activities for children to do. There is a reading corner, a coloring corner and a digging site where you can pretend to be a paleontologist and "find a fossil".
The well known self-taught paleontologist and archeologist Harley Garbani, also known as “the dinosaur hunter”, is major contributor of relics that are on display at the museum. He was born in Los Angeles, but raised in the Diamond Valley area, where as a child he started his love for finding relics. Garbani was the one who discovered the youngest known Tyrannosaurus rex and Triceratops, which is also on display in the Dinosaur room . According to an article in the L.A Times, “His prime fossil finds are on display at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, the University of California Museum of Paleontology in Berkeley and the Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman, Mont.” (“Harley”).
The museum has a separate temporary exhibit in a different room called “Valley Of The Mastodons”, which continues through early 2018. All the relics from this exhibition is on display, and scientists from across the United States will be working on it, making it a literal live workshop.
This interactive museum is a dinosaur goldmine for children and adults alike, that is why so many schools have annual field trips here. They have guided tours of the museum and 8 minute long informational videos that plays every 15 minutes, describing the excavation of the dam.
In one of the videos they show 2 items the archeologists found, a child’s rusty firetruck and a plough, which was probably in used during the early 1800’s.
Right outside the theatre is a display of clay pots, spear heads and woven baskets that were either found during excavation or on loan from the Garbani family.
At the end of the visit one of the archeologist pointed out that we should go to the dam exhibit which is located across the courtyard. This is just an exhibit and not a museum. It shows the development of the dam and the weather conditions around the Diamond Valley Lake.
As you leave the museum area, there is a nature path that leads you to an outdoor mock excavating site. This is the area where the science Saturdays program from the museum starts and is also the outside play area for the Western Science Center Academy, home of the Mammoths! Right there in the middle of the museum grounds is this 6-8th grade charter school. The school is part of the Hemet Unified School District and according to their website, is “Ranked in the top 10 among all charter schools in California each year for the past 8 years.”
As boring as it sounds when talking about going to a museum, this one was very interesting and informative. Jaide and I enjoyed the visit even though initially she was not too thrilled about a visit to the museum. Having all sorts of activities, videos and information about the Diamond Valley Lake excavation and exhibits makes it the best museum visit I have had. It is surprising what you can find in your own backyard.
McLellan, Dennis. “ Harley Garbani Dies at 88; Fossil Hunter Unearthed Significant Dinosaur Finds”, Los Angeles Times, April 24 2011. http://articles.latimes.com/2011/apr/24/local/la-me-harley-garbani-20110424
Means, Bernard K. “From Man to Beast: How Science Continues to Transform our Understanding of the American Mastodon”, Insert Exhibit Name Here, July 24 2017. https://insertexhibitnamehere.wordpress.com/2017/07/24/from-man-to-beast-how-science-continues-to-transform-our-understanding-of-the-american-mastodon/
“Valley Of The Mastodons” Western Center Museum http://www.westerncentermuseum.org/valley-of-the-mastodons/
“Western Center Academy-Home” Western Center Academy Charter School http://www.westerncenteracademy.com/ .Accessed 19 October 2017