A Seventh-day Adventist biology professor miraculously acquired prime land on the Galápagos Islands to open a field station for Loma Linda University students in the 1970s.
Nearly 50 years later, hundreds of people descended on the site to celebrate the opening of a landmark museum and research center where tourists and scientists alike can explore the origins of the earth with state-of-the-art technology.
The Origins Museum of Nature, located on the main Charles Darwin Avenue in Puerto Ayora, the tourist hub of the Galápagos, combines touchscreen televisions and virtual-reality headsets with fossils and giant tortoise shells to offer visitors an interactive experience where they can study the rich natural history of the legendary Pacific islands. Away from the exhibit hall, two museum rooms have been dedicated for scientific research.
“As Seventh-day Adventists, the source of our understanding of our origins, our reason for being here, and our purpose in helping nature to be preserved is found in our relationship with God,” Adventist Church president Ted N.C. Wilson told a packed hall of scientists, government officials, and church members at the inauguration of the museum on the evening of Feb. 29.
“May many people come to know more about origins and God though this museum,” he said.
The Origins museum received a warm welcome from government leaders and scientists at the inauguration.
The vice mayor of Puerto Ayora thanked the Adventist Church for opening the museum and predicted that many visitors would view its exhibits. The Ecuadorian government estimates that a quarter million tourists annually visit the Galápagos Islands, located about 600 miles off the coast of Ecuador. Tourists primarily flock to Santa Cruz Island, where the museum is located, but they also go to San Cristobal Island, situated about 60 miles (100 kilometers) away.