The Raymond M. Alf Museum of Paleontology celebrated the $1.8 million dollar renovation of its Hall of Life at a ribbon-cutting celebration and dinner on Friday, October 21, 2011, at The Webb Schools in Claremont, California.
The Alf Museum’s Hall of Life showcases the Earth’s 4.6 billion year old history. Floor space is divided into six sections. The first describes the Alf Museum history, and introduces the basic scientific principles of plate tectonics, biological evolution, and stratigraphic superposition. The following exhibits traverse the major divisions of geologic time (Precambrian, Paleozoic, Mesozoic, and Cenozoic), separated by major extinctions. The final area encompasses student-designed temporary exhibits that feature current museum research, along with a depiction of our current mass extinction, and the founder’s (Raymond Alf) “moment in time” challenge.
The renovated Hall of Life sheds new light on recent discoveries and expand museum founder Ray Alf’s story-based design to include new and evolving awareness of the interpretation of fossil evidence and the scientific fields concerned with life forms and how they interact. The Hall of Life also retains Alf’s vision of telling a story, along with an emphasis on biological evolution, plate tectonics, geochronology, and other topics. By integrating innovative technologies such as media-based exhibits, and hands-on and “touch” exhibit techniques, the renovation makes the sciences more accessible to varied audiences. The new exhibits also have the capacity to support California State curricula requirements. These improvements will provide an ongoing benefit to residents of Southern California, and scientists around the world.
The Alf Museum includes the Hall of Life and the Hall of Footprints. The Hall of Footprints houses the largest collection of fossil trackways and footprints on display in the western United States.
In total, the Alf Museum manages a collection of more than 140,000 fossils—95% of which were collected by high school students on school-sponsored trips. Today, the museum serves more than 18,000 visitors each year, most of them school children coming from over 100 public and private schools in the Greater Los Angeles area, while fulfilling its mission to offer programs and activities that provide inspiration, experience, and education in paleontology to school children, the general public, colleges, the worldwide scientific community and The Webb Schools. In addition, the museum provides an online experience available to children and adults around the world.