Physical Address:
625 Esplanade
(near  Bidwell Mansion)
Chico CA

Mailing Address:
College of Natural Sci.
CSU, Chico
Chico, CA 95929-0545


History of Gateway Science Museum

1993 | 1994 | 1995 | 1996 | 1997 | 1998 | 1999 | 2000 | 2001 | 2002 | 2003 | 2004 | 2005 | 2006 | 2007 | 2008 | 2009 | 2010


Spring: Sib and Joyce West of Little River, CA, offer to donate collection of African game trophy mounts to Chico State; referred to Dr. Raymond Barnett, Director of Vertebrate Museum • Summer: Barnett writes memo to College of Natural Sciences Dean Roger Lederer to suggest West trophy mounts and existing Chico State collections might form nucleus of a Natural History Museum; urged to explore idea


Fall: Dean Lederer grants Barnett release time to develop natural history exhibits in Holt Hall


Barnett researches, designs, supervises production and installation of exhibits


Fall: Grand Opening of Chico State Natural History Museum (NHM), with four Holt Hall exhibits (Foothills Ecoregion; Seashells; Gray Whale skull; Niche Partitioning in African Antelopes); Raymond Barnett named Director of NHM; • Barnett invites alumni and community members to form Advisory Board for NHM; early members include Sheryl Lange, Jack Rawlins, Barbara Weibel, Sib and Joyce West, Marilyn Sibley, Elizabeth Ingles • Jack Rawlins suggests building separate museum structure for exhibits


Campus sites for NHM explored; none seem feasible for various reasons

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Chico city and CARD sites for NHM explored; difficulties with all


Summer: Provost Scott McNall suggests reconsideration of campus sites to Sheryl Lange, particularly field adjacent to Bidwell Mansion

Fall: President Esteban permits exploring Bidwell Mansion site to be leased for museum if Board fundraising is successful and realistic business plan and form 2-7 (Capital Outlay Estimate) are developed

Barnett works with Facilities Planning Director Greg Francis on business plan, program, and form 2-7, while Board of Directors (formerly Community Advisory Board) works on fundraising

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Spring: Board funds Martz & Lundy consultants’ report "Fundraising Campaign Readiness Assessment" and accepts recommended procedures and timetable

Fall: Chico cardiologist Dr. Marcia Moore pledges an extremely large amount in memory of her late husband, Dr. James Cornyn


Spring: "Cinco de Mayo" fundraiser hosted by Gary and Judy Sitton

Summer: "Corporate Luncheon" fundraiser at Sierra Nevada Big Room; CSU, Chico NHM name changed to Northern California Natural History Museum (NCNHM). Dr. James L. J. Houpis becomes dean of the College of Natural Sciences. He is charged by University President to provide leadership to bring the museum to fruition.

Fall Proposition 12 grant submitted; not funded amidst severe competition; individual pledge total reaches large amount from Board, community

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Spring: "State of Museum" at Bidwell Mansion targets Chico leaders; major pledges from Gary and Judy Sitton, Glen and Virginia Toney; Barnett makes several trips to Sacramento, lobbies North State and other legislators and staff for NCNHM; Dean Houpis supports $3 million Prop. 40 grant request.

Summer: President Esteban’s memo to Board President Garey Weibel affirms lease of Bidwell Mansion site available for five years, but sets fundraising goal of $4.2 million by April

Fall: Judy Sitton elected president of Board of Directors; Governor Gray Davis announces $3 million Prop. 40 grant to NCNHM, on recommendation of Assemblyman Dick Dickerson of Redding; Campus proposes NCNHM as state entity, rather than leased; Board agrees; Dean Houpis commits significant college resources to planning and fundraising for NCNHM.


Spring: Pledges from Garey and Barbara Weibel, John and Renee McAmis; "Design Charette" with S.F. architect C. David Robinson and Chico's Steve Gonsalves explores design, size, and cost issues

Summer: Barnett retires from University and museum executive director; agrees to remain on NCNHM Board; named "Father of the Museum" by Board

Fall: AMS Planning and Research's Bob Bailey produces operational study for NCNHM, with many specific issues and questions;

First Museum Without Walls (MWOW) lecture series organized by John and Shirley Swanson, continued twice or thrice annually in succeeding years on variety of topics. Currently organized by museum staff and volunteers.

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Spring: Paul Zingg assumes CSU, Chico Presidency, works with Dean Houpis to convene a high-level group of campus and board officers to consider intricacies, commits to funding Executive Director position for NCNHM

Summer: Award from Paul Allen Foundation; first Family Safari Days at Big Chico Creek Ecological Preserve, continued in succeeding years; Chico Chamber of Commerce golf tournament in support of NCNHM, continues for next two year's tournaments


Summer: Greg Liggett named executive director of NCNHM; mission statement revised, approved; board transfers $500,000 from exhibits to building fund

Fall: "September 23 Event" at Warren Center promotes community awareness of NCNHM; discussions between campus and Board officers on host of size, cost, operations, support, infrastructure issues; exploration of other sites for museum; AC Martin Architectural Consultants hired to produce comparison of sites' suitability


Fall: Bidwell Mansion site confirmed; site survey, geotechnical survey, RFQ and then RFP for design-build teams for museum building; a substantial pledge from Newberry Family Charitable Foundation

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Spring: Otto Construction and Murray-Downs (later ANOVA) Architects selected to design and build museum building


April 24: Dean Houpis presides over the groundbreaking for NCNHM during Founders Week attended by 250 people at site

Summer: Site work begins

Fall: Slab poured, trenching

Winter: Framing begins; brainstorming sessions and surveys regarding new name for museum

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Spring: Exhibits committee, chaired by Anne Stephens, interviews four finalists; Gyroscope of Oakland chosen to design museum’s exhibits; NCNHM name changed to Gateway Science Museum

Summer: Otto Construction finishes building; Dr. Rachel Teasdale assigned Acting Executive Director as Greg Liggett takes leave

Fall: Nov. 14 Dedication and Reception of James W. Cornyn Valley Gallery; selected programs and events in Discovery Room and Valley Gallery


Spring: On Feb 27, 2010, in his last official act as Dean of the College of Natural Sciences, Dean Houpis presides over the Grand Opening of Gateway Science Museum

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