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Enjoy Magazine

The Gateway Science Museum Educates and Inspires

10/25/2017 11:00AM ● By Al Rocca

Discovery Process

November 2017
By Al Rocca
Photos by Eric Leslie

The Gateway Science Museum in downtown Chico is enjoying its seventh year of sharing science-related exhibits. Adjacent to the Bidwell Mansion just off the Esplanade, the Gateway Museum works to satisfy its strategic priorities of expanding the public’s interest in a deeper understanding of science and technology and inspiring young people to become future scientists, engineers and medical and technology professionals.


The main building contains three exhibit areas. 

The North Gallery hosts visiting exhibits. Each centers on a theme, such as “Amusement Park Science” or “Great Balls of Fire: Comets, Asteroids, Meteors” and offers a variety of hands-on activities that engage both children and adults. The exhibits make learning science fun. The Fall/Winter 2017 exhibit, “Zoo in You: The Human Microbiome,” challenges guests to explore the world of our inner microorganisms – where they live in us and what they do. This exhibit comes from the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry. 

The Newberry Gallery focuses on the North State’s natural and agricultural environment. In this room, you can explore “Delta Grandeur,” a look at California’s endangered Delta. Through the lens of photographer Rich Turner, guests learn about the complex relationship between humans, plants and wildlife of the ecosystem. A large, flat interactive map of the Sacramento Valley highlights different screens that reveal a look at local water distribution and reserves, as well as land use zones and other geographic information. A giant, glowing globe allows visitors to check on current meteorological and oceanic conditions, such as current temperatures and weather systems.

The easy-to-use computer screen smoothly shifts the visual presentation on the globe from one research topic to another. You can even see the Earth at night, with a realistic view of light-glow from one continent to another. 

The James W. Cornyn Valley Gallery will feature “Journey to Africa: Elephants” and “Tiger! Tiger!” exhibits through Jan. 7.  


Children can do hands-on discovery activities on most Saturdays between 1 and 3 pm. All activities are included with paid admission and are subject to change. Some of the more recent activities include: Sink or Float?, Fun with Optical Illusions, Food Safety, Solar Eclipse 2017, Electricity and Circuits and How Far Can You Fly? 


The gardens surrounding Gateway Science Museum include a native plant pollinator garden, an edible garden and plantings that represent four distinct eco-regions of Northern California. A Northern California foothills ecosystem exhibit is in development and should open in June 2018. 



Teachers can choose between two field trip options. The Open Field Trip is available to all grades, year round. Docents guide 10 to 15 students through the museum exhibits and supervise free exploration. The Explorer Field Trip is offered exclusively to grades 4-6, and is available only during the school year. Chico State University science education students work with their professors to create a curriculum-based experience that includes one docent per three or four students. Students discuss science principles and concepts related to the exhibits, go on scavenger hunts and do short written assignments.

The Gateway Museum • 625 Esplanade, Chico •  (530) 898-4121

Hours: Wednesday through Sunday, noon to 5 pm

Admission: $7 for adults, $5 for children 3-17, 

free for children 2 and under, free for members