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7 Reasons Why You Should Visit The Academy of Natural Sciences

August 16, 2023 By CityPASS

The Academy of Natural Sciences is the oldest research institution in the Americas dedicated to natural science and exploring the wonders of the world around us. It is now officially known as the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University, a must-see when exploring Philadelphia.

With tons of museum exhibits, collections, and other Drexel University treasures to explore, it's easy to get lost in the magic and wonder of the natural world. There's a massive collection of things to see, so here's your handy guide so you won't miss the unmissable.

1. Discover the Oldest Natural History Museum in the United States

The Academy of Natural Sciences is important in the United States and worldwide. Drexel University's archives contain a wealth of information on many different topics in the natural world. It's especially noted for its research expeditions that seek to learn more about the environment.

The Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia dates back to 1812 and was founded by some of the top names in American science at the time, including Thomas Say, Charles Pickering, and William Bartram. Later members included the likes of James Leidy, John James Audubon, and Charles Darwin. In 2011, this research institution and museum merged with nearby Drexel University to become The Academy of Natural Sciences (located on Benjamin Franklin Parkway).

2. Explore the Museum's Impressive Collections

Reviews of The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University all mention its incredible collections and exhibits that highlight the museum's engagement in biodiversity and commitment to learning about the natural world. Both enlightening and family-friendly, the museum has both permanent and temporary collections that bring the Earth's history to life from the beginning to the present, with insight into the planet's future.

These collections use photos, videos, interactive exhibits, and presentations from experts to let visitors explore the world through a scientific lens in an exciting, interactive, and engaging way.

3. Marvel at the Amazing Dinosaur Hall

One of the most exciting exhibits for kids and adults alike is the museum's collection of dinosaur skeletons on display in Dinosaur Hall. As you enter the museum, one of the first things you'll see is a 42-foot-tall T. rex looming over you. It's just one of the 30 different species from the Mesozoic era you'll encounter here, nearly half being fully-mounted dinosaur specimens.

The collection dives deep into all things dinosaurs, allowing you to look at fossilized footprints, dinosaur eggs, paleontologist tools, and artistic representations of what our planet looked like when dinosaurs roamed freely.

4. Experience the Realistic Animal and Historic Dioramas

Another of the top draws at the museum is the collection of lifelike dioramas that depict scenes of animals and wildlife from across the globe. The gorilla diorama gives visitors a glimpse of the wilds of Africa, while the panda and tiger dioramas spotlight Asia. There are 37 different dioramas spread across the museums, so they're mixed in with other artifacts and exhibits.

These dioramas have important historical significance, as they allowed the museum's earliest visitors to see animals and plants up close in a way never before possible before the rise of television and the internet.

5. Enjoy a Diverse Range of Interactive Exhibits

Natural sciences cover many topics, so it's not surprising that the variety of interactive exhibits runs the gamut. Many of these exhibits are interactive and let visitors explore through hands-on activities, chats with experts, and exciting materials. Visitors can ask questions, try new things, and learn about nature in a fun and authentic way.

After your in-person visit, you can access some of The Academy of Natural Sciences' exhibits online in the comfort of your own home. Exploring environmental science through Drexel University's online collection is fast, easy, and illuminating.

Other Interactive exhibits to see include:

  • Outside In
  • Illuminating Birds
  • Skin: Living Armor, Evolving Identity

6. Experience the Live Animal Shows at the Live Animal Center

From Wednesday to Sunday, museum guests can check out one unique exhibit called Outside In. Families can meet the museum's animal ambassadors here and learn about them and their habitats. Kids can even feed some animals as they get an up-close look at creatures like rabbits, snakes, tortoises, and frogs.

The Live Animal Center is an integral part of The Academy of Natural Sciences, as it allows staff members to study and learn about and from these species up close. In turn, guests can discover why animals are so important to our ecosystem and why conservation efforts are more critical now than ever.

7. Encounter With Most Famous Reptiles

If one thing is certain, museum guests will have plenty of opportunities to see a lot of reptiles. In Dinosaur Hall, you'll come face-to-face with the mighty dinosaurs, the fiercest reptiles ever to walk the Earth. As you make your way to the Live Animal Center, you'll encounter animals like turtles, snakes, and tortoises. The Academy of Natural Sciences has live specimens, fossils, recreations, and all kinds of materials that teach guests about some of the most famous reptiles from Earth's past and present.

Immerse Yourself In Nature and Science at The Academy of Natural Science With a Philadelphia CityPASS® Ticket

Skip waiting for The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University tickets at the museum and discover big savings with a Philadelphia CityPASS® ticket instead. This ticket lets you explore all of the while saving up to compared to buying individual attraction tickets.

You can purchase three different CityPASS® tickets to see three, four, or five of Philadelphia's most popular attractions, including the , The Franklin Institute, Philadelphia Zoo, and more. Saving money on tickets leaves you with more in your wallet to explore this incredible city's rich history and culture, so snag your Philadelphia CityPASS® tickets now.

Philadelphia Lodging

To get the most out of your stay in Philadelphia, we recommend finding lodging near Philadelphia's top attractions. Use this map to find the right lodging for you:

Header Image Courtesy of Academy of Natural Sciences

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