CSU, Chico News

Gift Funds Permanent Exhibit Showcasing Sierra Nevada Foothills

Date: 06-24-2013

Sarah Langford
Public Affairs
Renee Renner, Executive Director
Gateway Science Museum

A $300,000 gift from the estate of Glenn E. and Ruth Gray Cunningham will create a special indoor-outdoor exhibit at the Gateway Science Museum at California State University, Chico showcasing the beauty and ecology of the Northern California Sierra Nevada foothills.

The Glenn E. and Ruth Gray Cunningham Memorial Exhibit – The Foothills will highlight major habitats through displays and interactive opportunities for general visitors as well as students engaged in facilitated science activities.

Gateway Science Museum Executive Director Renee Renner said designs for the permanent exhibit will be considered and approved in August, the first step toward installation of the exhibit.

“This will be an outstanding addition to the Gateway Science Museum,” said Renner. “It will enhance the experience of every visitor, from someone who has lived in and enjoyed the North State region for many years to a young schoolchild who is just learning about science. We are very grateful to the Cunninghams for this extraordinary gift, which will create a space that reflects their deep affection for the Sierra Nevada foothills.”

Renee McAmis, president, Gateway Science Museum Community Advisory Board, said, “Our Community Advisory Board is extremely grateful for this gift that allows us to move forward on expanding our permanent science education exhibits. The Cunninghams’ love of science and the natural history of the foothills will now be shared with thousands of Gateway Science Museum visitors.”

Judy Sitton, founding Community Advisory Board member and past president, said, “Glenn and Ruth Cunningham understood the vision of the Gateway Science Museum at its inception. Their decision to put the museum in their estate plans allows us to honor their belief in providing science and natural history exhibits to our community and the entire region. Their gift is greatly appreciated.”

Glenn E. and Ruth Gray Cunningham were Chico State alumni and schoolteachers who had a long-standing love and appreciation for the outdoors. While a student at CSU, Chico, Ruth worked with famed botanist Vesta Holt in a natural sciences lab, and she continued to do research on owls well into her 80s. She and Glenn gave tours of the Vina Plains for years, and Ruth also led school field trips to Mount Diablo in the Bay Area.

The Glenn E. and Ruth Gray Memorial Exhibit – The Foothills will bridge the valley region and the montane region, comprising displays that extend from the interior of the museum outward to the gardens. The geography, plant life and animal life of the foothills highlighted in the exhibit will include native wildflowers and grasses, wetlands and vernal pools, oak woodlands, mammals and birds, and a variety of other organisms large and small.

Exhibit space inside the museum will include a large dynamic display or photomural capable of featuring a subregion or subcategory of the foothills, such as vernal pools. The exterior exhibit space will include one area representing the foothill grasslands and meadows, with manzanita, foothill ash, wildflowers, meadow grasses and bird habitats. The second area will house a seasonal living “eco-pond” with habitat for micro-organisms, plant life and amphibians.

The Gateway Science Museum is open Wednesday to Sunday, noon to 5 p.m. The museum is located at 625 Esplanade. Admission is $6 for adults, $3 for children 3-17 years old and free for museum members. For more information, please visit www.gatewayscience.org or call 530-898-4121.