The Western Science Center at Hemet has a story to tell and it dates back 230,000 thousand years. It is home to almost one million specimens and artifacts some dating back to the Pleistocene.
This collection all came about when during construction of Diamond Valley Lake in the 1990s huge fossil beds were discovered during the removal of earth for the dam. A massive effort, that often had to race the construction clock, saved this priceless discovery which included both Archaeological and Paleontological collections.
This museum is housed in a modern building with ample space for exhibits as well as working areas for continuing work on the massive amount of material unearthed below the lake site.
The entrance to the Center is dramatic since as you walk from the parking lot to the entrance you pass through a corridor that moves you through geologic time periods from the Pre-Cambrian to the Holocene, the period of the mammoths and mastodons you are about to see.
Ice age discoveries include Xena, a 16,000 year old mammoth, also Little Stevie, a 40,000 year old mastodon, actually the most complete skeleton ever discovered in the U.S. Max is the largest mastodon ever found in the western U.S. Glass enclosed there are many real fossils to behold here.
We particularly enjoyed the movie theater with its 270 degree screen and granite boulder seats. Here we watched two movies, the first showing how during construction of the Diamond Lake Dam the fossil discoveries were made and the efforts to remove them ahead of the massive earth movers.
The second displays how the Diamond valley looked during the ice age and the animals that roamed it during that period.
Besides the displays of fossil bones and how mammoths and mastodons actually looked the Center has temporary exhibits which change during the year. While we were there the current exhibit was Robots+US, how they are designed and constructed. The working models we watched were indeed fascinating.
Western Science Center is located at 2345 Searl Parkway in Hemet, telephone 951 791-0033, web www.westerncentermuseum.org. Open Tuesday thru Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., closed Mondays. Call for admission prices.
Adjacent is the Lake offering a myraid of outdoor activities.
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