Nature to You Loan Program

Enrich your programming and interests with museum specimens.

The Nature to You Loan Program has an extensive library of specimens—plants, mammals, reptiles, insects, birds, and more—that people can literally check out, just like a real library. Our selection of flora and fauna is great for artists, teachers, scholars, school groups, home school, or anyone with an interest in the natural sciences. Become a member of the Nature to You Loan Program to access these incredible resources.

To join, learn more, or ask a question about our collection, please drop in during open hours, call 619.255.0236, or email loanprogram@sdnhm.org.

Visit the Loan Library

We're open Monday - Thursday from 2 - 5 PM* and are located in the northwest corner of the Museum on Level 1. Please note, these hours are different from the museum's public hours, and you can enter from the sidewalk along Village Place, across from the Casa del Prado theater.

Drop in to learn more about the program, borrow a specimen, or return a loan.

*Upcoming Nature to You Closure Dates:
May 27 (Memorial Day)
June 3 - June 18 (Summer Break)
Summer Hours (June 19 - September 2): Open Wednesdays from 2 - 5 PM

Peruse our shelves—virtually

Specimens range from taxidermy (snakes, small mammals, birds, and more) to fossils and skeletons to touchable pelts, animals in jars, puppets, plant pressings, and pinned insects. We also have teacher kits, complete with lesson plans, books, specimens, and other materials. Search our specimen database.

Are You a Title 1 School?

Museum Access Funds are available to fund annual Nature to You memberships for qualified Title I schools. Applications for the '24-'25 school year will open on Monday, August 5. If you have any questions, please email us at loanprogram@sdnhm.org or call us at 619.255.0236.

Become a member to access the collection

Join the Nature to You Loan Program to borrow a specimen or teacher kit from our library. The collection includes more than 1,300 specimens that represent the biologic and geologic diversity of the southwestern United States, Baja California, and the world! Membership makes a great gift for teachers.

Annual membership ($100)

Annual membership is valid for one calendar year from date of registration. Loan duration is two weeks and is limited to seven specimens at a time; within these seven, each member is allowed a maximum of one bird of prey, one mammal and one reptile. There is no limit to the number of loans permitted per year of membership. One Teacher Kit checkout is included with membership. The Loan Library is open year-round, but closed on most school holidays, and summer hours are limited.

One-time loan ($30)

This opportunity allows for a one-time loan of up to four specimens from the program. Loan duration is one week.

Join today.

Three easy ways to become a member: drop in during open hours, call 619.255.0236, or fill out the membership form via Adobe Sign below.

'23-'24 Nature to You Membership Forms

You can pay for a membership in advance here. You do not need to be a member of The Nat to join the Loan Program.

Frequently Asked Questions

A collection of museum specimens that can be checked out for personal use—for use by artists, teachers, scholars, school groups, families, or anyone interested in the natural world.

Yes, most of the specimens we have were once aliveexcluding the few models we have in the collection. Now, thanks to the support of NTY members and Museum donors, they have a second life as museum displays. 

Many of these specimens were collected between 1920 and 1960.

Most of the specimens in the Loan Library are from old exhibits. Today, the Museum does not kill animals for display but will mount animals that have died by accident or due to natural causes. We also receive specimens from private donations as well as local organizations like Project Wildlife. 

When you see wildlife in nature, it doesn’t stay still or let you get close to stare at it. Sometimes, it’s not safe to get too close. And it won’t stop and pose for a picture, either! Here, the wildlife doesn’t run away. We can get up close, stare at, and study it. You can learn a lot about how an animal lives just by looking at it. 

Skilled artists, called taxidermists, train in doing this. They remove all the gushy parts of the animals (eyes, organs, tongues, etc.) and replace them with replicas. They then mountfill with a body form or other materialsand pose the animals so they look like they would if they were alive.

No, the Museum no longer has taxidermists on staff. However, our scientific departments still collect specimens for research purposes and are typically stuffed flat, not mounted and posed.