Del Mar resident becomes newest curator at the San Diego Natural History Museum

Arie Hammond
Arie Hammond

After becoming a curator at the San Diego Natural History Museum, Ariel (Arie) Hammond said she wants to make its library more accessible to the public.

“I’d like to get our catalog out there for people to see what we have, to come visit and research in our library, and also invite the public in as volunteers, as interns,” said Hammond, who has lived in Del Mar for about 11 years. “I’d really like to get some students here in the library doing archival research, but also learning more about science and careers in science that they might not have considered.”

Hammond, a “lifelong nerd” who grew up in Escondido and spent the past three years working at the San Diego Zoo library, is one of six curators overseeing the museum’s vast collection. She began her new role Sept. 1.

“I heard about this amazing position at The Nat, which was a little more my style,” she said. “I’m a bit more into snakes and sharks and spiders than I am cheetah kittens, so I jumped at the chance.”

Those interests started around the age of 5, when she saw a boa constrictor that had gotten loose from someone’s house and ended up in her backyard.

Plans for the future, with The Nat approaching its 150th anniversary in 2024, include digitizing more books and encouraging the public to explore its resources. Hammond added that there are interactive features that appeal to visitors of all ages, including her two children who wanted to see “the fun stuff.”

“We have a lot of interactive exhibits and elements in the library exhibit,” she said, mentioning buttons that can be pressed to hear different bird calls.

The Nat’s research library has about 56,000 volumes on natural history, an archive of historical records, and a collection of rare books, maps and fine art about natural history subjects.

“We couldn’t be more excited to have Arie on board,” Michael Wall, the museum’s vice president of science and conservation, said in a news release. “In an era of rampant misinformation, democratizing access to trusted sources of data is critical. Arie’s contemporary expertise in information science promises to get The Nat’s amazing resources and data out into the world in unique and broadly available ways.”

Hammond participated in an “Ask A Curator Day” Sept. 15 on social media, part of her and the museum’s goal of being more accessible.

“I learn just as much from helping the public as they learn when I provide them answers,” she said.

For more information on The Nat, visit Address: 1788 El Prado, Balboa Park, San Diego, 92101.