About The Western Science Center
During the excavation of Hemet’s Diamond Valley Lake in 1995, the site unexpectedly turned into an archaeology and paleontology dig when artifacts from early Native American settlers of the region, and the bones and skeletons of extinct mammoths, mastodons, camel, sloth and long-horned bison were discovered.
As a result, a 33,000-square-foot museum was added to the reservoir’s construction plans to house many of the artifacts uncovered at the Diamond Valley Lake excavation site.
In 2006, The Western Science Center opened to the public at the entrance to the Diamond Valley Lake. Located less than 4 miles southeast of the Golden Village Palms RV Resort, The Western Science Center is a world-class repository for the curation, research, and presentation of the nearly one million specimens unearthed at more than 300 separate sites within the Diamond Valley Lake construction zone.
The Western Science Center is open Tuesdays through Sundays from 10 am to 5 pm; the museum is closed for major holidays. Be sure to visit their official website for hours and ticket prices as they do change throughout the year.
Western Science Center Photo Gallery
Some of the displays and exhibits visitors may find fascinating include:
The Life on Earth Timeline
Visitors to the museum walking from the center’s parking lot, traverse along a 156-foot corridor that features overhead graphics marking the progression of time starting with the Pre-Cambrian era and ending with the Holocene period when mammoths and mastodons walked the San Jacinto Valley.
The Big Dam Hole
The permanent gallery begins with an interactive exhibit featuring the people and animals that lived in the Domenigoni and Diamond Valleys over time, and continues with representative displays of the European and Native American cultures that influenced in the region
Postcards from the Past
Museum visitors learn about life in a typical 1880s house in the Diamond Valley area, along with a presentation of artifacts created and used by even earlier Native American residents.
Movies in the Theater
The museum includes a circular 270-degree screen and full immersion theatre that shows two short films daily. The animated “Echoes of the Past” film transports viewers to a time when prehistoric creatures ruled the area. The second film is the documentary “Discovery and Recovery” that presents a fist-hand account of the excavation process at Diamond Valley Lake.
Snapshots in Time
Visitors to get a more up close and personal look at a 10-foot tall mastodon named “Max” (the largest mastodon found in the western United States), a 12-foot Columbia mammoth nicknamed “Xena,” and a 7-foot giant ground sloth. The exhibit includes a re-created quarry site viewers can walk over and see the partially buried remains of one of the most complete mastodons ever discovered in the western U.S. that roamed the area 50,000 years ago.
Visitors can track how artifacts and prehistoric remains were handled from discovery at the site to the eventual curation at the museum. On exhibit are tools of the trade archaeologists use in the field, and an interactive lesson in how researchers date artifacts.