|(PRNewsFoto/The Raymond M. Alf Museum of Paleontology)|
CLAREMONT, Calif. USA /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ –The Raymond M. Alf Museum of Paleontology celebrated the $1.8 million renovation of its Hall of Life at a ribbon-cutting celebration and reception for 500 on October 21, 2011 at The Webb Schools in Claremont, California. A highlight of the evening was the first public announcement of a $2 million gift by Gretchen Augustyn (of Claremont, CA) and the Augustyn Family to the Alf Museum to endow the Augustyn Family Curator of Paleontology, a staff position currently held by Dr. Andrew Farke. The Augustyn gift will fund the salary and benefits of the position, as well as the holder’s research program, a unique combination of support that will elevate the Alf Museum into the forefront of paleontological research. Dr. Farke is one of the top dinosaur experts in the world whose research specialty is horned dinosaurs like Triceratops.
The Alf Museum’s Hall of Life showcases the Earth’s 4.6 billion year-old history which is dramatically divided into six areas of colorful and interactive displays. Exhibits traverse the major divisions of geologic time, separated by major extinctions which are noted by red warning lights. There is a unique area of student-designed exhibits that feature recent additions to the collections found by students on museum collecting trips to locations in the Western United States; such as a very rare 15 million year-old elephant skull from Barstow California, and a dinosaur brain endocast from Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument in Utah.
Overall, the renovated Hall of Life expands museum founder Raymond 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 design includes innovative technologies such as media-based exhibits, and hands-on and “touch” exhibit techniques that make the sciences more accessible to all audiences and that also support California State curricula requirements. These improvements provide an ongoing benefit to residents of Southern California, and scientists around the world.
The Alf Museum’s other exhibit area is the Hall of Footprints. Renovated in 2002, the Hall of Footprints houses the largest, most diverse collection of fossil trackways and footprints on display in the United States.
In total, the Alf Museum (www.alfmuseum.org) manages a collection of more than 142,000 fossils—of which more than 96% 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, the worldwide scientific community and The Webb Schools (www.webb.org).
The Alf Museum is the only museum that involves secondary students in all aspects of its operations; from collection and study of fossils, to presenting research at scientific conferences. The Alf Museum is one of only 4.5% of our nation’s museums that are nationally accredited by the American Association of Museums.