Exploring Cambridge’s Harvard Museum of Natural History

Ed Greable Blogger October 1, 2018

Located on the Harvard University Campus within the University Museum Building in Cambridge, the Harvard Museum of Natural History offers a wealth of natural history knowledge to explore. Even better, for the price of admission to the natural history museum, visitors can also gain access to the adjacent Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, providing for a day full of interesting exhibits and displays.

The History of the Harvard Museum of Natural History

Created in 1998, the Harvard Museum of Natural History was initially designed to serve as the “public face” of the university’s three research museums. These museums include the Museum of Comparative Zoology, the Harvard University Herbaria and the Harvard Mineralogical and Geological Museum. Together, these museums draw on the university’s natural history collections while its research faculty provides expertise and programs to museum members and the public in general. Today, the museum is the most visited of the university’s museums.

Enjoying Exhibits at the Harvard Museum of Natural History

The Harvard Museum of Natural History boasts many permanent galleries that allow visitors to explore the diversity of life on earth. In addition to offering massive exhibits of dinosaurs and other animals, the museum is the only to have a mounted Kronosaurus. The museum is also home to a mineralogical gallery with displays of minerals, gemstones and meteorites. The Glass Flowers and Sea Creatures in Glass exhibits are also popular attractions. In addition to its permanent exhibits, the Harvard Museum of Natural History also hosts a series of changing exhibits.

Participating in Programs at the Harvard Museum of Natural History

Several programs are offered throughout the year at the Harvard Museum of Natural History. These programs provide hands-on opportunities to learn more about science and the natural world. Some upcoming programs and events include:

  • Fabulous Fungus Fair (October 27): Explores the world of fungi, including mushrooms, yeasts and molds found in forests, gardens and labs.
  • Herpetological Investigation at the Museum of Comparative Zoology (November 3): Investigates the museum’s herpetological collections used in forensic investigations and natural history research. Includes hands on data collection and investigation of anolis lizards.
  • Exploring Science Together (November 3): Investigates the Ice Age with hands-on glacier demonstrations and activities while handling real fossils.
  • Ancient DNA and the New Science of the Human Past (November 8): One of many regular presentations provided by Harvard biologists, this presentation by David Reich will investigate technological innovations in the field of genomics.
  • Origins of the Green Revolution: Hybrid Seeds, Hunger, and Mexico-India Cooperation (November 14): Presented by Gabriela Soto Laveaga, this presentation explores the 1966 famine that hit India and Pakistan and how a cargo of hybrid wheat seeds from Mexico helped solve the issue.
  • The Ghosts of Gombe (November 29): Dale Peterson explores the story of Ruth Davis, a volunteer with Dr. Jane Goodall who lost her life while following a chimpanzee into the forest.

With so much to offer, it is easy to understand why the Harvard Museum of Natural History is such a popular Cambridge attraction among visitors as well as those who call the city home.

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