GOINGS ON : SANTA BARBARA : What on Earth? : * Docents and scientists at the Museum of Natural History will answer your questions about everything from squids to otters.


If you’ve ever wandered through a museum and wondered what goes on behind the scenes, you may want to drop by the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History May 20 for International Museum Day.

Not only will the docents be out in force to explain the exhibits, but some of the scientists will talk about what it is exactly that they do.

“The naturalists from the vertebrate department will demonstrate how they prepare skins to study,” said spokeswoman Lois Klein. “Animal skins are used for scientific study. They help to tell what a population of a particular species looks like.”

The invertebrate zoology department also will be represented. Scientists will show fossils and various other artifacts related to the museum’s ongoing giant squid exhibit.


“We have a giant squid hanging from the ceiling in the Marine Hall,” said Klein. “It’s a model of the largest ever found. The kids love it. Anything giant is great.”

Though they may not be giants, the docents are loved by the kids, too.

Who wouldn’t love someone who would answer such questions as “Why are bird’s feet different?” “How come the bear’s fur is so rough and the otter’s fur so soft?” and “Do stuffed animals make any noises?”

The education department and the anthropology department will be open and there will be extra planetarium shows, hourly from 1 to 4 p.m. Activities take place from noon to 4 p.m. Admission is free. The museum is at 2559 Puesta del Sol Road.

What’s for lunch today at Monroe and Washington schools in Santa Barbara? Estuary soup and kelp cookies.

At least for the fifth- and sixth-grade students involved in the Los Marineros Sea Fair from 1 to 2 p.m. The students participated in a marine science program and this is their opportunity to show the public what they learned.

“The students took a workshop at McGrath State Beach,” said coordinator Sheila Cushman of the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary. “One of the stations had a chef who talked about all the elements that made up the murky water. We will have soup, but no one will have to eat it.”

There also will be a walk-in kelp forest (strands of kelp hanging from the ceiling) complete with starfish and sea urchins.

Monroe School is located at 431 Flora Vista Drive. The fair will be in the library. Washington School is located at 290 Lighthouse Road. Go to Room 118.

The 1990 Festival of Animation--a collection of 17 short films from the United States, England, the Soviet Union, Canada and Holland--will open a two-week run at the Victoria Street Theater tomorrow night.

Featured are such films as “Knickknack,” the story of a miniature snowman trying to escape from his paperweight snowball, so he can be with other knickknacks on a shelf; “Locomotion,” a modern, computer graphics version of “The Little Engine that Could;” and British Academy Award winner “The Hill Farm,” complete with its stick-figure animals and country folk.

Show times are 7 and 9:30 p.m., Monday to Saturday; 4:30, 7 and 9:30 p.m. Sunday. There will be an extra midnight show on May 19. All 17 films will be presented at each show. Tickets are $6 at the door. The festival will run through May 31. The theater is located at 33 W. Victoria St. For more information, call 965-1886.