ESCONDIDO, Calif. -- Saturday, July 6, is the last day the Roynon Museum of Earth Science and Paleontology will be open in Escondido.
“I’m very sad. My son loves dinosaurs. I thought they would find a way to keep it open so I could bring him here all the time," museum visitor Bianca Torres said.
The museum houses thousands of dinosaur artifacts, fossils and other specimen.
The founder, 81-year-old Keith Roynon, started the museum at his home in 1998. The museum announced in May it would shut down at the end of June because Roynon needed a rest and there wasn’t enough money for a full-time staff.
“I think the number one priority should absolutely be making sure the community of Escondido can continue to enjoy this collection," said Robert Paolella, a marketing specialist who's coordinating an effort to keep Roynon's collection in town.
Nearly half the museum's items must go to another nonprofit, which will be a museum in Riverside. The rest of the collection belongs to Roynon.
The museum says several buyers from out of town have visited the museum since the announcement of its impending closure, looking to acquire pieces.
Paolella is hoping the collection will find a home at the nearby California Center for the Arts in Escondido. “It’s a shame we’re already losing that much," Paolella said. "I gave him (Roynon) a call the day after they announced they’re officially closing down. He said, ‘Man, I never thought of putting it there.’ Having his support to do that and having the community’s interest in keeping it here -- I think all the right people are in place that this could actually happen," Paolella said.
Typically, the museum has welcomed around 200 visitors each month. Since announcing the closing, museum workers said they've been getting about 200 visitors every day.