Gateway Science Museum

Permanent Collections

Our Building is LEED Gold Certified.

To learn more about LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design), click here(opens in new window).

Sustainability at Gateway(opens in new window) is a virtual tour highlighting the sustainable design and construction of Gateway Science Museum as assessed through LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design). Get inspired to be more sustainable at home with activities and resources to guide you.

HOOKER OAK LEGACY: Gateway donation box

Historic photo from archives of the original Hooker Oak Tree.

The donation box created from Hooker Oak wood has been at Gateway since February 2012.  At one time, Chico’s Hooker Oak tree was considered to be the largest valley oak in the world, standing more than 100 feet tall. The circumference of the outside branches was nearly 500 feet. 

In 2011, the Hall family passed along some of the Hooker Oak wood to Gateway Science Museum, and Jim Ellisor used it to create the donation box. The box was designed to maintain the rustic appearance of the legendary wood, and all of the saw marks from the original tree cutting and board preparation are still present.

Ice Age Skeletons

The short-faced bear and saber-tooth cat are considered "Ice Age" skeletons because both mammals roamed the Americas during the Pleistocene. The Pleistocene has been dated from 2.6 million to 11,700 years ago and is known as the ice age because vast areas of land were covered in massive ice sheets. A major extinction event of megafauna (large mammals) began at the end of the Pleistocene.  

Short-faced bear skelatonShort-faced bear, Scientific Name: Arctodus simus

Range: North America, possibly South America and Asia

Habitat: steppe, tundra, grasslands, and some forested habitats

Size: 5-6 ft at the shoulder, 8-12 ft standing, weighing 2,500-3,500 lbs

Lived: Pleistocene Epoch (1.8 MYA- 11,000 YBP)

Specific Fact: The largest known species of bear and the largest terrestrial carnivore of the Pleistocene epoch. They had relatively small eyes and likely relied on their powerful sense of smell to find food.

Saber-tooth cat skeleton.Saber-tooth cat, Scientific Name: Smilodon fatalis

Range: North and South America

Habitat: brush, scrub, grassland, and forest

Size: 30"-47" at the shoulder, 47"-65" in length, weight between 300-650 lbs

Lived: Pleistocene Epoch (2.5 MYA- 9,440 YBP)

Specific Fact: The longest canine teeth of any cat ever found, robust body and fore limbs which were different than modern cats. They likely used their massive canine teeth to deliver precision cuts to the neck of prey.


Outside of Gateway Science Museum visitors will find two incredible murals created by students of the Chico State Art Department. The first, completed in 2019, represents the natural history of our region. The second, completed in 2021, incorporates a historical timeline of accomplishments in STEM.

natural history mural STEM mural