History of the Museum
The Museum, which opened in January 1993, is the culmination of the life-long dream of the late Bernard "Bud" Lueck, founder of the Museum. The ambitious project grew out of Mr. Lueck's passion for ancient artifacts, which began when he was a 10-year-old boy in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. His father was a farmer and he would pick up arrowheads as he followed his father's plow.
Bud's parents enrolled him in an art class in the basement of the Oshkosh Public Museum. When class was over each day, he would wander up to the museum and marvel at all of the interesting things on display. Bud's interest gained the attention of the museum staff and at age 16, he was invited to join them on archaeological digs. At 19, he moved on to the museum in Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin, where he was involved in an excavation that uncovered the remains of Chief Red Bird.
In subsequent years, Bud, a long-time member of the Archaeological Society, continued his avocation by volunteering at the Burke Museum in Seattle and the Museum of Native American Cultures in Spokane, where he took courses at the University of Washington.
In 1961, Bud, his wife Bernadette, and their three children moved to Santee, a suburb of San Diego, where he established a sheet metal business. Throughout the years, though, he continued studying and collecting a wide array of museum-quality artifacts.
When he retired in 1980, Bud was finally able to work toward his ultimate goal of building a multi-faceted museum to house his vast and varied collections. He designed the 11,000 square foot building, as well as the Daniel R. Ciccati Tropical Garden Patio, the Desert Garden Patio and the museum landscaping.
Bud reviewed and discussed the matter with the then Cuyamaca College President, Dr. Samuel M. Ciccati. Dr. Ciccati enthusiastically agreed to Bud's plan and played a significant role in the establishment of the museum.
The museum holds extensive displays dedicated to the natural history of the world and the archaeology, anthropology, and art of North, Central, and South America. During the latter part of his life, Mr. Lueck put together an outstanding collection of Chinese artifacts.
Because his interest in antiquities began as a child, Mr. Lueck created the Museum to be an especially good learning experience for children. Docent-led tours are conducted almost daily throughout the school year. "If you can take them on a journey through time, it opens the door to their minds," he said.