Cavalier Steward

Praises to Matt Kettmann for his insightful summation of the Natural History Museum’s future and the recognition of Dr. Karl Hutterer’s long and successful career. Kettmann’s question-and-answer format also revealed Hutterer’s response to any challenge to his proposed Master Plan. Unfortunately, his dismissive and arrogant answers regarding the Master Plan taint his accomplishments during Hutterer’s 12-year stewardship of this museum. In one sentence, he says it all to those who do not totally support his plan: “If you don’t understand that, I’m sorry, but I’m not gonna waste my time with you.”

This is his cavalier response to generations of supporters of this museum, specifically those “in their eighties” who, in his eyes, “don’t want to see the museum change.”

Perhaps Luke Swetland, who assumes this position in January 2013, will put aside Hutterer’s phone number and instead follow the example of Steve Windhager, who became executive director of the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden in the midst of a major controversy over that organization’s Master Plan. Through dialogue and compromise with members and neighbors of the Garden, Windhager has adjusted the plan to accomplish the desired growth. He is still moving forward while respecting and listening to others.

Although the outcome of the Natural History Museum’s Master Plan rests in the hands of the Historic Landmarks Commission and the County Planning Department, interested persons need to voice their opinion regarding the future of the Museum. This Museum is one of Santa Barbara’s treasures. It does not deserve Hutterer’s gloomy prediction for its future. We all have the responsibility to guard it well as a place both to nourish our youngsters and to stimulate the minds of our seniors.

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