Western Science Center’s Old Fashioned Holiday a hit with Valley residents.

By Western Science Center Staff


Hemet-CA With Christmas just over two weeks away, over 450 people turned out for the Western Science Center’s eighth annual “Old Fashioned Holiday” event to enjoy an evening of free fun and celebration.

The antique fire engine from the Hemet Fire Department greeted attendees of the event at the piazza entrance, and it was a big hit with kids of all ages.

Both the Diamond Valley Lake Visitor Center and Western Science Center’s (WSC) exhibit galleries transformed into a winter wonderland.

Children explored both the Western Science Center Museum and the Visitor Center for prizes, and participated in science related hands on activities and crafts. Santa Claus flew in from the North Pole and took up residence for the evening in WSC’s theater to take Christmas orders.

Families gathered around the warmth of fire pits to watch the high stepping, award winning Claddagh Irish Dance Company performing Irish dances, in addition to several dances by the “In Motion Training Center” dance troupe.

The second annual ginger bread house building competition’s Grand Prize winner went to the Hemet High School Autism program for their entry titled “The Polar Express.”

Local artisans sold hand crafted artwork, jewelry, knitted items, ornaments, greeting cards, and gourmet food items.

Throughout the evening, volunteers from the Hemet Women’s Club, West Valley High School’s ROTC students, WVHS-Avid, Western Center Academy (WCA) Community Service Club, WCA-ASB, and Western Science Center volunteers staffed the scavenger hunt stations, craft tables, and assisted staff with set up and take down of the event.

Western Science Center thanks the Old Fashioned Holiday sponsors Valerie Drummer-State Farm Insurance, The Hemet Bike shop, and Anady’s Trophies for their support.

Special thanks to all of the volunteers who help make this event possible by the donation of their time.

The Western Science Center wishes everyone a very happy “Old Fashioned Holiday” season.



Now open! A new permanent exhibit that includes a replica skull of the giant dinosaur Tyrannosaurus rex, as well as other original and replica fossils. The exhibit, called “Harley Garbani ­­– Dinosaur Hunter” features discoveries from a famous local fossil collector.

Harley Garbani was the son of a farming family in San Jacinto Valley. He discovered his first fossil bone at the age of eight while helping his father plow the fields. That fossil, part of an extinct camel, is on display in the exhibit and sparked in Garbani a life-long interest in paleontology and archaeology. He spent the rest of his life collecting fossils and artifacts from California and other western states, many of which are now housed at the Los Angeles County Museum and the Western Science Center.

Many of Garbani’s most famous discoveries were made in Montana, where he collected dinosaurs. The T. rex he discovered there in the 1960’s is one of the largest known specimens of Tyrannosaurus. In 1997 he discovered the skull from a baby Triceratops, a horned dinosaur known mostly from adult specimens. Replicas of both the T. rex and the Triceratops skulls are included in the Western Science Center exhibit.

In recognition of Garbani’s work, in 1990 the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology awarded him the first Morris F. Skinner Award for “outstanding and sustained contributions to scientific knowledge through the making of important collections of fossil vertebrates.”

“Harley Garbani ­­– Dinosaur Hunter” is a permanent exhibit at the Western Science Center and is included in the general admission price.

For Immediate Release:

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Western Science Center hosted a grand opening reception October 13, 2014, of the new permanent exhibit “Harley Garbani – Dinosaur Hunter.” Attending were family and friends of Mr. Garbani, along with the donors who made the exhibit possible. Members of Western Science Center were also in attendance as part of the benefits of museum membership.

A “self-taught” paleontologist with a knack for discovering rare fossils, Harley was contracted by the LA County Museum of Natural History to find dinosaurs, and he was quite successful at his job. The T-rex skull replica on display is from a discovery he made in Hell Creek, Montana.

The exhibit “Harley Garbani – Dinosaur Hunter” is the story of a man who followed his passion and became a dinosaur hunter.  This new permanent exhibit is now open to the public.


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Western Science Center

August 1, 2014

The Board of Directors of the Western Science Center has named Dr. Alton Dooley as the museum’s new executive director. Dr. Dooley comes to Hemet from the Virginia Museum of Natural History, where he was the Curator of Paleontology. Dr. Dooley will be taking over from Dr. Bill Marshall, who is retiring.

Dr. Dooley is a graduate of Carleton College and Louisiana State University. In addition to his 15 years of experience at the Virginia Museum, he has also worked as a high school science teacher and as a college geology instructor.

“As both a scientist and an educator, one of the things that attracted me to the Western Science Center is the strong integration of education and research,” Dooley said.

The Western Science Center has a large collection of fossils and artifacts from the region. Dooley’s background in managing a large research collection was an important factor in the board’s decision. According to Dooley, “The WSC holds large and important collections that tell us about the history of this region. One of the things we’re going to work on is making information about our collections more accessible, both to researchers and to the general public.”


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Thursday, July 24, 2014- Western Science Center received a check for $4,000.00 from Jersey Mike’s Hemet store.

Jersey Mike’s Hemet franchisee owners are part a company culture that is committed to making a difference in local communities.

A little bit about the company: (from corporate website)
“Committed to Making a Difference…
Ever since he operated a single store in Point Pleasant Beach, NJ, Jersey Mike’s founder, Peter Cancro has believed in giving back to the community. His passion for helping others has resonated throughout the Jersey Mike’s system, resulting in an incredible outpouring of local giving and community support from Jersey Mike’s stores across the country. Our “Giving” cup series celebrates these great stories of caring that have become a part of the Jersey Mike’s culture.”

Western Science Center sincerely appreciates the hard work of Hemet store owners along with their the staff in making the grand opening fundraiser a great success. WSC will use the donation to support ongoing programming at the Center.


Western Science Center featured in

Inland Empire Magazine- July 2014 Issue

Cool Things to do this Summer in the IE

June 25, 2014

Wondering what to do this Summer? Pick up a copy of the July 2014 issue of IE Magazine and check out the comprehensive list of things to do not only in the Summer, but year round in the IE. Western Science Center made the list under item number seven: “Soak Up Some Culture” on page 79. 

Featured in the section is the upcoming special exhibit “The Bealtes! Backstage and Behind the Scenes” opening July 12, 2014. Whether you want to meet Max the Mastodon, or view rare photo images of the Fab Four, Western Science Center has something for everyone.

July Issue of IE Magazine on news stands now.



Press Enterprise Article- June 20, 2014

FAMILY: 12 things to do with your kids this summer


Here are 12 activities for the family this summer:

School’s out and there’s nothing worse than hearing “I’m bored” out of your child mere days into summer vacation.

From toddlers to teens, here are 12 activities you can do with your kids this summer:


1. Make learning fun at Western Science Center: Dinosaur lovers will get a kick out of the Western Science Center in Hemet, where they can meet some prehistoric residents of the Diamond Valley Lake area. They include Max, a 10-foot-tall mastodon, and Xena, a 12-foot-tall mammoth.

Not all of its artifacts are that old or that scientific. Beginning July 12, the center will host a photo exhibit called “The Beatles! Back Stage & Behind the Scenes.”

10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. 2345 Searl Parkway, Hemet. $8, $6.50 for ages 5-12. 951-791-0033

-Fielding Buck

Follow the link to the complete article here and discover 11 more ways you can enjoy family fun this summer.

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May 30, 2014

“Ramona”Special Exhibit opens at Western Science Center

May 30, through June 29, 2014

Western Science Center in cooperation with the Ramona Bowl Amphitheatre is pleased to announce a special limited engagement exhibit celebrating the legacy of the Ramona Pageant, the official outdoor play of California, and the longest continuously running outdoor theatrical production in the United States

The play “Ramona”, established in 1923,  is a story of love, tragedy, and the clash of cultures in California’s historic past. The exhibit features costumes, props, artifacts and programs from the historic pageant.

The “Ramona” exhibition will celebrate the history of this iconic California play, and explore the social, political, and cultural context that inspired the novel written by Helen Hunt Jackson, published in 1884.

Western Science Center expresses our sincere gratitude to the Ramona Bowl Amphitheatre for their generosity in coordinating the artifacts to create this very special exhibit depicting the history of the San Jacinto Valley, while documenting California’s official outdoor play.

For more information about the Ramona Bowl Amphitheatre, please visit their website at:

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Jersey Mike’s Subs Fundraiser for Western Science Center

Jersey Mike’s Subs Fundraiser for WSC

May 19, 2014 – Great sandwiches were in plentiful supply at the Grand Opening celebration of Jersey Mike’s Subs new Hemet store, located at 719 South Sanderson Street (Sanderson & Wentworth).

Over the course of five days, Jersey Mike’s gave away delicious Jersey style sub sandwiches with a minimum $2.00 donation. All proceeds from the fundraiser will go to benefit Western Science Center programming.

The fundraiser was a great success coming in at $3,400.00, a record among the twenty-two store region. Adding to the success, Jersey Mike’s Subs is generously rounding up the donation to $4,000.00!

Since 2010, Jersey Mike’s locations across the USA, have raised close to $10 Million for local charities, and have donated over 750,000 sandwiches to benefit various causes.

Western Science Center offers our sincere thanks to the Jersey Mike’s Subs franchise owners, Boris & Laurie Ilic, and Alex & Tanya Ilic, and staff for their generous support.

Jersey Mike’s Subs Hemet store is open 7 days a week from 10:00AM – 9:00PM and is located at 719 South Sanderson Street. To contact this location call: 951-658-1200.






January 21, 2014; 10:54 AM

The one thing that archeologists and paleontologists have in common is patience. Hemet’s Western Science Center created its simulated dig sites to allow students of these fields of study to learn how to look for clues about the past. It took more than two years for them to excavate 4.5 feet to reach the point from where the dig site was launched.

Darla Abigt, who earned her bachelor’s degree in archeology and her master’s degree in ancient history, oversees the sites used by students from the Western Science Academy, Mt. San Jacinto College and summer camps. She also serves as the assistant curator of archeology for the museum.

“We created the dig site to match what and how you would find artifacts and fossils in different layers of dirt,” she said.

Paleontology is considered a social science, focusing on the evolution of cultures and development of human society. The fossils buried at the paleontology dig site are replicas, as real fossils with their associated information are saved for research. The replicas are made from synthetic resins molded into the shape of real fossils.

Archeology is a natural science and focuses on how our environment changed over time. The artifacts that are part of the archeology dig site are real but they did not have any background information associated with them that would make them valuable for research purposes.

“Many of the artifacts come from teaching collections or donations,” Abigt said. “But everything we use here is recognizable as being from Native American to European through modern day and all things that would be found in Hemet or Southern California.”

Sixth- and seventh-grade science students from the charter school academy that shares its campus with the Western Science Center learn about mapping, tools, procedures and ethics of excavating before they ever start at the dig sites.

“They simulate everything in the classroom before they have a real-life experience outdoors,” Abigt said. “After digging, they have to do all the documentation, lab work and side research to piece together the story about the artifacts and fossils they find.”

She said students learn how to equate what they do to real world excavation sites, such as the one done to build Diamond Valley Lake. That project is what led to the museum’s focus on the prehistoric animals that roamed the San Jacinto Valley and surrounding areas long before people settled there.

“The biggest impact we make is to help them realize that this is not treasure hunting but scientific findings that belong to the community,” Abigt said. “If you find something and keep it for yourself you are stealing important public information. We help young people start understanding that turning something over to a museum is beneficial so others can learn from it.”

The dig site has been set up so observers can watch from the sidelines as items are excavated. It is available for groups and schools to use and fits in with middle school curriculum on life sciences and past civilizations.

The museum and outdoor simulated dig site are at 2345 Searl Parkway in Hemet.

Information, 951-791-0033 or

Diane A. Rhodes is a Press-Enterprise correspondent. Reach her at


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2345 Searl Parkway, Hemet CA, 92543
Phone: 951-791-0033

10 am – 5 pm Tuesday through Sunday

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