Those familiar with the extraordinary accomplishments of Louise Arner Boyd—San Rafael’s own gold fortune heiress, adventurer, and philanthropist—may not know that for a time during the 1960s, a local museum was named in her honor.
The Louise A. Boyd Natural Science Museum in San Rafael grew from what was first called the Marin Junior Museum, established in 1954 following a national trend to create museums specifically for young people. Marin’s Junior Museum focused on nature and animals, and maintained an animal lending program for local schools and families. The museum’s new name, adopted in 1961, would honor Louise Boyd’s contributions to science and reflect the museum’s expanding activities. The Mill Valley Record reported in October that Ms. Boyd was “tremendously pleased” to have the museum named after her.
Black and white metal road sign for the Louise A. Boyd Natural History Museum, c. 1961, originally posted at the corner of Fourth and B Streets in downtown San Rafael.
The Boyd Museum (as it was commonly known) flourished through the 1960s with the support of devoted guilds. As the county population pushed further into open space, the museum became an ever-increasing resource and refuge for found injured and orphaned animals, leading to subsequent name changes and a merger reflecting a new emphasis on wild animal rehabilitation. Today, WildCare treats approximately 4,000 animals per year and provides nature education programs for children and adults throughout the Bay Area and beyond.
Here’s a postcard from the Marin History Museum’s collection that shows our sign, directing people down B Street to the Louise A. Boyd Natural Science Museum at 76 Albert Park Lane. You can see the sign posted to the right, just below the B Street sign and above the waiting gentleman’s head.
Postcard with sign seen posted at corner of Fourth and B Streets, c. 1965.
Donated by Sam Van Landingham.
Sources: Daily Independent Journal, Mill Valley Record, discoverwildcare.org
If you are interested in volunteering with the collection, please contact Heather Powell, MHM Collections Manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org.