Special Exhibits

ART  meets  SCIENCE is a special exhibition at the Western Center designed to let the visitor participate in the creation of new designs.  Come observe how towers, bridges, and giant spirals are built using a simple construction tool, a KEVA® plank.  Imagine how you can use the plank, and then use our planks to create a new design.



Principles of math and physics are at the core of the designs, but you don’t have to be a genius at math or physics to create.  Look at the models on display in the exhibition, and learn a few basic techniques.  Relax and have some fun as you challenge yourself, your friends, or your kids to create a design of your own.



Join us June 27, July 25, and August 29 at 10 a.m. for our monthly challenges!

Have your creation displayed on our Wall of Fame!

Congratulations to the winners of our Opening Challenge, and all our other participants!

Highlights from the Events

Opening Challenge June 6-7

Build a Building Challenge June 27

Build a BIG Beast Challenge July 25

Build to the Stars Challenge Aug 29  

June 5 – Sept 30, 2009

The Music behind the Magic explores Disney’s legacy and draws inspiration from Disney animation, television programming, theme parks, live-action films and Broadway musicals in addition to the label’s artist roster past and present, which includes music sensations ranging from Annette Funicello to Raven-Symoné and The Cheetah Girls. The exhibition contains more than 65 rare artifacts from the Disney Archives including the striped jacket worn by Dick Van Dyke in “Mary Poppins”, and the film shooting schedule for “High School Musical”.

 Organized by Experience Music Project, Seattle

The exhibit features five interpretive videos, including excerpts of key Disney films and interviews with artists and experts such as Richard Sherman, Alan Menken, Phil Collins and Leonard Maltin. Visitors also engage in interactive activities where, for example, they can mix their own classic Disney tracks and even participate in a musical interactive challenge.

This venue was made possible by our many sponsors. Thank You!

February 06, 2009 – May 10, 2009

Artist Albert Valentien devoted 10 years of his life to recording native California plant life in a series of stunning watercolors. October 10, 2008 – January 11, 2009, the Western Center for Archaeology & Paleontology will present an exhibition of 80 of these wonderful paintings in Plant Portraits: The California Legacy of A.R. Valentien, developed by the San Diego Natural History Museum, in collaboration with the Irvine Museum.


Ellen Browning Scripps commissioned Valentien to paint the wildflowers of California and the plan was to publish a book of the paintings when he finished. A former head artist at the famous Rookwood Pottery and winner of a gold medal at the Paris Exposition of 1900, Valentien began the project in 1908 and finished a decade later. However, in the end Miss Scripps decided the cost was too prohibitive dashing Valentien’s hope of seeing his work reproduced and admired by a large audience. The collection of 1100 paintings, depicting not only wildflowers but trees, grasses, and ferns as well, was donated to the San Diego Natural History Museum in 1933 from Eleanor Browning Scripps’ estate.


In each painting, Valentien rendered the organic wholeness of stem, leaf, flower or fruit with a fluid and seemingly effortless grace that literally takes your breath away. When you see the white crinkled petals of the Matilija poppy leap off the page, or the spines of the cactus appear so real they could hurt you, you realize why Albert Valentien called these “plant portraits.” Unlike many flower paintings that seem stiff or forced, these paintings capture the living essence of each plant, and we feel we are seeing them anew, as Mr. Valentien saw them, almost a hundred years ago.


In 2000, thanks to the generosity of Eleanor and Jerome Navarra, the San Diego Natural History Museum began a multiple year project to photograph, conserve, catalog, and eventually exhibit the collection. The premiere exhibition in 2003 was the first time the majority of the work was seen by the public. A book accompanies the exhibition. The Mastodon Trading Company of the Western Center will have copies of the book available for purchase.



See these incredible plant portraits October 10, 2008 – January 11, 2009




Visit our teacher pages for educational resources relating to this exhibit.

Ceramic pots and ollas — narrow necked vessels — are clues to how our earliest residents lived. Were they used for cooking and storing food? Who carried the ollas to springs to fill them with water?

Imagine the arrows as they flew toward their targets, jet black obsidian and sparkling quartz arrowheads, glinting in the sun. What did these stones, prized for their sharp edges, cost in trade? Gaze at the grooved stone tools made to straighten arrow shafts.

Who wore the bone and stone pendants and used the clay pipes? 

The Western Center presents artifacts from the Harley Garbani collection. Take advantage of this unique opportunity to view objects from the San Jacinto Valley and the French Valley regions. Learn from the artifacts to discover how one individual, dedicated to exploring the world around him, has pursued a lifelong passion for learning.

Peer into Southern California’s past and envision
the daily lives of southwestern Riverside County People.

June 27th, 2008 – September 7th, 2008

Photographs in the poster are courtesy of the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians and the Agua Caliente Cultural Museum.

Presented by the Western Center for Archaeology & Paleontology in collaboration with the Soboba Band of Luiseño Indians, this exhibition provides visitors a chance to view a series of baskets made by Southern California Native Americans between the late 1800s and recent years. Visitors will appreciate not only the aesthetic qualities of each intricate basket, but will gain some understanding of the history behind basketweaving in the region.

“A basket tells us so much more than ‘beauty’ or ‘function’:
it reveals a history, a home, a tradition. It offers testimony
to the intimate relationship between weaver and
 – Brian Bibby (in The Fine Art of California Indian
. 1996. Crocker Art Museum with Heyday Books, Berkeley.)

February 29, 2008 – May 25, 2008

Presented by the Western Center for Archaeology & Paleontology in partnership with La Sierra University, this exhibition provides visitors a chance to view ancient treasures ranging in age from 2000 – 4500 years old. A region to the east of the Mediterranean Sea, it has been home to many cultures through a long range of time. The region has seen residents, invaders, and traders, and each has had an impact on the region. The objects left behind provide clues, and through the science of archaeology we try to understand those who lived in the region so long ago. 

October 19, 2007 – January 27, 2008

Opens May 19, 2012

War has been part of civilization from its inception, shaping the course of human history.  The tools and techniques of war can teach us about the people that fought – who did they fight, how did they fight, and why?

How did cultural and technological advancements change the way cultures warred, and the reasons they fought?

Weapons & War in the Iron Age, presented in partnership with La Sierra University, examines the important period of the 2nd millenium BC in the ancient Near East.

Cultures like the Egyptians, Judeans, Assyrians and Caananites all fought for control of resources, trade routes, and cities in this crossroads of the ancient world.  Learn how they lived their lives and fought their wars, and how the discovery of the secrets of iron helped revolutionize the battlefield.

Weapons & War in the Iron Age features authentic weapons recovered from modern-day Israel and Jordan, plus artifacts depicting religion and daily life in the ancient Near East, and the destruction caused when wars came into the home.  Multimedia displays help bring the fighting to life, and authentic replica weapons let you touch the same tools that meant life or death to ancient warriors!
Weapons and War in the Iron Age is presented in partnership with La Sierra University

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

10 am – 5 pm Tuesday through Sunday

Western Science Center

To inspire our community to discover the past, explore the present, and promote a sustainable future.