Anniston Museum of Natural History is Born

After the Carnegie library was demolished, Anniston’s collection moved to the Calhoun County War Memorial building (CCWMB) in 1965. In City Hall, arrangements were being made to create a new building to house the museum permanently. Several areas were considered, including retired school buildings and Zinn Park. In 1974, it was officially decided that the new museum building would bear the name “Anniston Museum of Natural History.” After failing to reach an agreement about city-owned options, the City petitioned the federal government to cede ownership of a plot of land on the opposite side of Fort McClellan. In late 1975, the Department of Interior ceded the land was ceded to the City of Anniston, providing ample space to construct a new museum.

Museum officials worked tirelessly to raise money for the new building. Thanks to their efforts, construction began almost immediately in January of 1976. The new museum building was nearly completed by fall of that same year. In September, the Regar Museum closed so that staff could properly prepare the collection to be moved. The collection was almost entirely moved by the middle of December.

The interior of the new museum building was far from complete. It was a large, open space in which the permanent exhibits would have to be installed one by one. Because of its spacious design, visitors watched as staff and volunteers worked tirelessly to create exhibits. The museum staff relied on the citizens of Anniston to aid in smaller tasks, such as painting and preparing cases for artifacts. During this busy time, the museum continued to collect specimens that would bolster its collection. In the late 1970s, the museum acquired the iconic African elephant and black rhino on display in the African Hall today.

The first permanent exhibit completed was the Birds of the Americas Hall. Staff wanted to honor the contributions of Werner and Regar, for without them AMNH would not exist. The collection of Werner’s birds and Regar’s miscellaneous artifacts created the foundation upon which the museum stands.