PRESS RELEASE / ANNOUNCEMENTS Monday, January 14, 2013

SB Museum of Natural History Announces New President & CEO

Luke Swetland to Lead Santa Barbara’s First Museum into Centennial

The Board of Trustees of the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History have announced Luke Swetland as the Museum’s new President & CEO. As the Museum moves towards celebrating its centennial in a few years, Mr. Swetland will lead the organization through the entitlement process of the Museum’s Master Plan to ensure that the Museum continues to serve the community for generations to come as a leader in science education, steward of our natural heritage, trailblazer in scientific research, and catalyst in building community connections.

“This is an exciting time for the Museum, and Luke is sincerely committed to our mission of inspiring a thirst for discovery and a passion for the natural world,” stated Board Chairman Palmer Jackson, Jr. “Luke’s exceptional reputation precedes him, and I am confident he will expertly lead our organization into our centennial year of service.”

Mr. Swetland most recently served as the Interim Head of the Autry National Center of the American West, Los Angeles, where he was Vice President since 2008. An expert on museum information management, Mr. Swetland held top management positions at the Getty Conservation Institute (Los Angeles) and the Henry Ford Museum & Greenfield Village (Dearborn), as well as serving as Deputy Director/SVP of the Japanese-American National Museum (Los Angeles). He also served as Vice President of the Board of the California Association of Museums, adjunct lecturer for the UCLA Graduate School of Education and Information Studies, and has been active in supporting the efforts of numerous conservation, archival, and library associations. Mr. Swetland earned his bachelor’s summa cum laude from the University of Massachusetts, and two master’s degrees, one in American Studies as a Mellon Fellow and the other in Library/Archival Sciences, from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

“The Museum has been a cherished and respected institution in the Santa Barbara community for generations,” stated Mr. Swetland. “I am honored to have the opportunity to work with a dynamic Board and an outstanding professional staff to strengthen and extend the Museum’s critically important mission – to serve the community and to educate and engage all of our visitors with our natural world so that we collectively ensure a bright, healthy, and sustainable future.”

Meet new Museum President & CEO Luke Swetland at the annual State of the Museum Address on Thursday, January 24, 2013.

Beginning mid-January 2013, Mr. Swetland will be responsible for leading a team of nearly 100 staff and more than 1,000 volunteers dedicated to the successful operations of the Museum and its marine facility on Stearns Wharf – the Ty Warner Sea Center. As a first step, Mr. Swetland will work with the staff to update its Strategic Plan, which serves as a guide to the Museum’s future, including its master plan to ensure that the renovated Museum continues to serve the community of Santa Barbara for the next hundred years.

Born and raised in Lincoln, Nebraska, Mr. Swetland moved to Los Angeles, California in 1996. A father of two grown boys, Mr. Swetland will live in Santa Barbara in the Museum Director’s house with his wife Stacey.


The Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History is a private, nonprofit organization dedicated to inspiring a thirst for discovery and a passion for the natural world. The Museum relies on a variety of funding sources which enable us to share our collections, exhibits, and education program with thousands of visitors, school children, and scientists each year.

In January 2016, the Museum will celebrate 100 years of serving the Santa Barbara community. The Museum was founded in 1916 by William Leon Dawson as the Museum of Comparative Oology. Thanks to the philanthropic support of Rowland G. Hazard, Jr., Mary Pierpont Bushnell Hazard, and Caroline Hazard, in 1922 the Museum opened its doors at the current campus. In 1987, the Museum added the Sea Center on Stearns Wharf as an off-campus facility focused specifically on our coastal and ocean environment.

Located just beyond the Old Mission, the Museum is a center of the community serving the southern and central coast of California, including the counties of Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, and Ventura. We maintain diverse programs to serve the community’s needs and provide our facilities and grounds as a gathering place for a wide array of community groups and events. Our visitors are comprised of local and regional residents, and domestic and international tourists. Our two facilities serve about 19,000 K-12 students annually and 45,000 students off-site through our Nature Collections lending library.

Maintaining a balance between regional focus and global perspective, the Museum has grown steadily in all programs in education, exhibits, collections, and scientific research. Our diverse array of education programs for adults, children, teens, families, teachers, docents, and volunteers are designed to foster an understanding and appreciation of our rich natural and cultural heritage, promote scientific literacy, and inspire a passion for learning. The Museum is a critical portal for science education and an important element in the educational infrastructure of our region.

Exhibits are the tangible expression of the Museum’s mission. Designed to stimulate the mind and touch the heart, our exhibits include an array of permanent galleries, numerous temporary shows throughout the year, and an extensive set of outdoor displays and interpretations.

We preserve extensive natural history collections of approximately 3.5 million invaluable and irreplaceable objects used for research by our curators and visiting scientists from around the world. Every year, we discover and describe dozens of new species, investigate past and current changes in our natural environments, and assist in projects of conservation and restoration. We also study changes in human society and culture that were present in our region over thousands of years and their changing relationships to the environment. Very often, this work is pursued in collaboration with other scientific or governmental organizations or private sector

agencies. Our scientific expertise supports all of the educational efforts and our curators take an active part in our exhibits and programs.

Going into the Museum’s Centennial Anniversary, our goal is to continue to be a Museum for Santa Barbara for the next 100 years. Our trustees and staff have developed a long term Strategic Plan, including a plan for the physical renewal of the Museum’s campus facilities and grounds. The Museum’s Master Plan is still evolving in ongoing efforts to ensure that the plan effectively supports the needs of the institution and the community it serves.

Locations, Hours & Admissions

Mission Canyon Campus: Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History

- Address: 2559 Puesta del Sol, Santa Barbara, CA 93105

- Phone: 805-682-4711

- URL:

- Hours: Open daily 10:00 AM–5:00 PM (except New Year’s Day, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and the last Saturday of June for the annual Santa Barbara Wine Festival™. Closes early at 3 PM on Christmas Eve.)

- Admission: Members free; Non-members $12/adult, $8/senior, $8/teen, $7/child.

- Family Nature Day: Every third Sunday of the month (excluding June, July and August) general admission to the Museum is free.

- Parking: Free

Stearns Wharf Campus: Ty Warner Sea Center

- Address: 211 Stearns Wharf, Santa Barbara, CA 93101

- Phone: 805-962-2526

- URL:

- Hours: Open daily 10:00 AM–5:00 PM (except New Year’s Day, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and October 15. Closes early at 3 PM on Christmas Eve.)

- Admission: Members free; Non-members $8/adult, $7/senior, $7/teen, $5/child.

- Parking: Public parking on Stearns Wharf is free for the first 90 minutes with ticket validation by a wharf merchant.

Annual State of the Museum Address

- Date: Thursday, January 24, 2013

- Time: 7:30 AM – Light breakfast served; 8:00 AM – Presentation begins

- Location: Fleischmann Auditorium at the Museum

- RSVP: Please call 805-682-4711 ext. 110

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