The wonder of lifelong learning is alive and well in Butte County—and three California State University, Chico museums will play key roles in an upcoming weekend encouraging scholarship.

Explore Butte County’s inaugural Butte County Museum Weekend—taking place Saturday, Feb. 29, through Sunday, March 1—will promote and celebrate history, art and culture through the county’s network of museums and cultural centers. Of the 15 participating locations throughout the county, three of them are part of CSU, Chico—the Valene L. Smith Museum of Anthropology, Gateway Science Museum, and Janet Turner Print Museum.

In addition to the three University locations, Butte County Museum Weekend will also include museums, galleries and other cultural destinations in Oroville, Paradise and Gridley. Over the two-day event, admission to all museums will be free from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Explore Butte County Executive Director Carolyn Denero said the goal for this special weekend is to remind local residents how fortunate they are to live in a county that’s filled with history, culture and art.

“We have an abundance of museums that celebrate our area, and they’re eager to welcome visitors as often as possible,” Denero said. “By inviting our local community to explore our museums, it is our hope that when visitors come to town, our locals remember what a great experience they had at a local museum and they are inspired to take their visitors there.”

Gateway Science Museum, located at 625 Esplanade (near the Bidwell Mansion), will mark its 10th anniversary with a free family event on Saturday, February 29, with cake and celebratory remarks. Additionally, its current exhibit, “Mission Aerospace,” will welcome visitors to examine the history of flight, navigation and NASA’s vision for the future.

“Humans have always had a fascination with powered flight, from airplanes to rockets,” said Gateway Director Adrienne McGraw. “As part of our exhibit, museum visitors young and old will have a chance to experiment with lift, thrust, control surfaces and gyroscopes—while showcasing their paper airplane- and rocket-making skills and testing them for distance and air dexterity.”

“It is really fun to see everyone’s competitive spirits come out as they try to outdo each other’s planes and rockets,” McGraw added.

The Valene L. Smith Museum of Anthropology, located along the northeast side of the Meriam Library breezeway, will feature a pair of exhibitions, as well as family-friendly activities and crafts all weekend. “Unbroken Traditions” features skillfully crafted baskets from four generations of Mountain Maidu weavers, while “Fire and Water” explores the planetary consequences brought on by climate change.

Additionally, public television station and event sponsor KIXE will show programming at the museum. The children’s show “Molly from Denali” will air on Saturday from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., and on Sunday KIXE will preview its program “Polar Extremes,” a NOVA-produced episode featuring the director of the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History at 1 and 3 p.m.

Finally, the Janet Turner Print Museum, located in the Arts and Humanities Building, will welcome visitors with a special monotype printmaking workshop, as well as an opportunity to view its exhibition, “Renaissanced.” This exhibit includes Turner Collection prints that explore the enduring themes of the Renaissance, including work by Albrecht Dürer, William Hogarth, Robert Rauschenberg and Clare Romano.

Denero said the importance of art, science and hands-on museums is that they allow visitors to gain experiences they wouldn’t always have in their daily lives.

“It is important to promote the role of these museums because if people don’t visit them, they’ll eventually go away,” she said. “Without museums, we could lose our preserved history and culture—the things that make us who we are.”

Those who require an accommodation to any of the University’s museums or who have questions about accessibility may contact the Accessibility Resource Center at 530-898-5959.