Lindsay History

More than 60 years ago, Alexander “Sandy” Lindsay shared his curiosity and passion for the natural world with the people of Walnut Creek, especially children. What started as a garage full of locally collected specimens, and the occasional wild animal, slowly developed into series of informal classes and neighborhood hikes. Lindsay quickly inspired like-minded individuals to cooperate with his education efforts, and in 1955 the Diablo Junior Museum Association officially formed, including a governing board of directors. That is the story of how the Lindsay Wildlife Experience began.

As the years have passed, our truly grassroots organization has continued to grow. Initially housed in an elementary school, the museum began by offering school age children summer classes and field trips focused on the natural world. In 1962, we changed the name to the Alexander Lindsay Junior Museum to honor the legacy of its late founder, who passed at age 44.

After nearly a decade of operation, it became apparent that a permanent, year-round site was necessary. In 1965, as the City of Walnut Creek was enlarging its park system, the museum moved into an unoccupied water pump house that was available in Larkey Park. With a new 5,000 square-foot home, the museum could now develop and display a permanent collection of live, non-releasable native wildlife and natural history objects.

People started coming to the museum for assistance with wild animals that had been injured or orphaned because of intense urban growth and the loss of native habitat. In response, we took a giant conservation leap forward in 1970 with the addition of our wildlife hospital, the first of its kind in the country and still among the largest.

The City of Walnut Creek assumed operation of the museum until 1986, when it became independently operated as a private, not-for-profit organization. Museum programming now catered to all age groups, and in 1987 the board of directors dropped “Junior” from the organization, shortening the name to The Lindsay Museum. In 1990, the museum was re-accredited by the American Alliance of Museums, validating the institution’s quality of programming and management practices. The museum received notice in 1984 that it would have to move. A capital campaign was launched, yielding $7 million, and the new 28,000-square-foot museum in Larkey Park opened in 1993. Finally, the name was changed to Lindsay Wildlife Experience in 2015 to better illustrate what the center means to the community and visitors.

The Lindsay Wildlife Experience is the country’s first wildlife hospital, a zoological organization, and an educational museum specializing in native California wildlife. Every year our veterinarians, husbandry experts, biologists, and teachers treat more than 5,000 wild animal patients, care for the 70 animal ambassadors that call Lindsay home, and educate approximately 100,000 people.