Home Pop Culture Disgruntled Natural History Museum volunteer launches into a disillusioned tirade after he...

Disgruntled Natural History Museum volunteer launches into a disillusioned tirade after he is told his services are no longer wanted.


discussion of the 6th century nautical adventures of St. Brendan “the Navigator”.  I was told by Dr. Hagen that it was a traveling exhibit and the SDNHM was not responsible for the content.

It was probably impolite of me to equate that sentiment to the teacher who allowed Vice-President Dan Quail to correct her student’s correct spelling of “potato” (Quail added an “e” to the end of the word) on the blackboard and the teacher approved Quil’s misspelling.  Is it true that a primary purpose of SDNHM is to educate?  Or must we perpetuate the mistakes of others??

I do want it known to all that being asked to step down as a volunteer saddens me and I feel the decision has been taken without due process and in a very cold, impersonal  bureaucratic manner through email that has not afforded me any opportunity for feedback.

I have personally benefited greatly from the education that has been provided me by many programs at SDNHM.  I love sharing that education with visitors and residents of San Diego.  I find the camaradarie of volunteers very reqarding.

I do not check my timesheet very often but the last time I did, I had logged something like 1,000 hours and driven over 2,400 miles in about the last three years as a San Diego Natural History Museum volunteer in various capacities.  I will miss those activities and the opportunity to interact with other volunteers.

If I have offended any volunteers, it was not my intent to do so and I apologize.  I know I do get overly enthusiastic about conveying what little information I have to make the world a better place and to assure people know how to enjoy it in a sustainable manner.

I have staffed every kind of exhibits, including:

The Cool Globes, and
Pompeii, and
Van Hagen’s Body Worlds, and
All That Glitters, and
Reptiles and Lizards Alive, and
Ends of the Earth.

I have done grunt work like:
Glued down floors in the botany library, and
Secured the donation of five gallons of Frazee paint and helped in painting the volunteer room, and
Organized, filed and cleaned out old field and contract records from the BRCC, and
Completed a thorough inventory of all of the art work in the museum, with photographic documentation in an Excel spreadsheet that can be called up by any department on the SDNHM computer network, and
Volunteered numerous times in the Education department to fold letters, copy, staple, and stuff envelops and affix address and stamps, and
Collected mistletoe and thoroughly enjoyed going out to the Julian area with other Canyoneers, shorting and packaging it, and selling it at the December Nights celebration the last two years.

These activities seem to have gone well and I did not receive any complaints.

I wish you all well and I do hope the mission of SDNHM continues to be:  “To interpret the natural world through research, education and exhibits; to promote understanding of the evolution and diversity of southern California and the peninsula of Baja California; and to inspire in all a respect for nature and the environment.”

Alan Bennett
[Home address redacted]

Home phone:

[home phone redacted]
Cell phone:    [cell phone redacted]



  1. Alan Bennett is known throughout the community of San Diego for being a dedicated, hardworking, and conscientious volunteer–for many causes.

    The management at the SDNHM has handled this situation very poorly and they should be ashamed. To dismiss one of their best volunteers because he refuses to let erroneous information be provided to the public, speaks to the ethics and professionalism of the executive team, which is obviously sadly lacking.

    If anything Alan ought to be rewarded for wanting to maintain high standards, but instead, they let him go–because he would have them provide correct and honest information. Alan is absolutely correct in saying the museum is an educational institution, and it is critical that any information provided with an exhibit, whether it was provided by others or not, should be completely correct and accurate in every way.

    Those responsible for Alan Bennett being let go, ought to be brought to task and explain why they knowingly are providing the public with bad information. Do they really believe putting the blame on those who gave it to them is an adequate excuse?.

    It is people such as these that lower the quality of San Diego’s institutions and besmirch the reputation of this fine city. They make our museums look low rent. All they care about is their substantially inflated paychecks, and the public and the exhibits, and the information provided matters not a whit. Someone ought to do something about this reprehensible situation.

  2. Well… I guess they don’t need help. Hopefully the public will remember when they ask for volunteers or donations. I won’t donate.

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