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Academy at a Glance

Philadelphia, March 1, 2012

Description and Mission Statement

Founded in 1812, the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University is America’s oldest natural history museum and a world leader in biodiversity and environmental research. For 200 years, the Academy has carried out its mission to encourage and cultivate the sciences, exploring the remarkable diversity of our natural world and sharing these discoveries with the public through innovative exhibits, publications and educational programming.

Museum Highlights

Discovering Dinosaurs

Tyrannosaurus rex towers over the Discovering Dinosaurs exhibit in Dinosaur Hall, where more than 30 dinosaur species are represented. Climb into a dinosaur footprint or skull, explore dinosaur eggs, walk like a dinosaur, and learn what the mighty beasts ate. Pretend to be an Academy paleontologist and dig for fossils and shark teeth in the Big Dig. Watch as our fossil preparators in the Fossil Prep Lab clean and prepare real fossils for further study.


Stroll through a lush, tropical indoor garden where beautiful live butterflies flutter all around you. Talk to our butterfly keeper about these delicate jewels of nature and their habitats around the world. Check out the pupae chamber and you may see a butterfly emerging from its chrysalis.

Outside In

Outside In is a hands-on, highly interactive center specifically designed for young children. Visitors can touch live animals, pan for shark teeth, search for fossil footprints, watch a working beehive, and view a fish pond from the bottom up.

Live Animal Center

Watch our animal keepers feed and care for nearly 100 live mammals, reptiles and amphibians that live here. Most of these animals are injured and cannot survive in the wild. But they are our nature ambassadors who guest star in Outside In, live animal shows in the museum and outreach programs for school and community events.

Changing Exhibits

The Academy hosts several traveling exhibits each year and creates its own exhibits. These exhibits are designed to engage adults and children.


Science and art merge into more than three dozen historic wild-animal dioramas representing life around the world. The dioramas—including a hairy wild yak, a herd of charging bison, an eight-foot-tall moose, gorillas, tigers, and lions—were the cutting edge of virtual reality when they were created beginning in the 1920s.

Art of Science

The Art of Science Gallery features changing displays of works of art that explore the interplay between science and art.

Science Live

On most Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., an Academy scientist will leave his or her lab and bring their research project out to the public museum. Visitors may see birds being skinned, seashells sorted, diatoms measured through a microscope and more fascinating, live science.

Audubon’s The Birds of America Page Turning

Every weekday at 3:15 p.m., museum visitors are invited into the library to watch a staff member or special guest turn one page of John James Audubon’s The Birds of America double elephant folio (so named for its huge size) and give a short talk about the artist and the bird of the day. This is a rare treat, as there are only about 100 original editions of this monumental work, published from 1827 to 1838, remaining in the world.

Events and Programs

Festivals, weekend family programs and special events feature themed activities geared to adults and families, including environmental-themed games, speakers, crafts, specimen displays and live-animal encounters. Safari Overnights allow visitors to sleep in the museum and enjoy educational activities. The Academy also offers birthday parties, scout programs, nature lessons for toddlers, evening speakers for adults, field trips, workshops, daily short films and free Town Square and Urban Sustainability Forum panel discussions about important environmental issues.

Visiting the Academy


Monday through Friday: 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Saturday and Sunday: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Closed Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day


1900 Benjamin Franklin Parkway (at Logan Square)
Philadelphia, PA 19103


Main Number: 215-299-1000
Twitter Hashtag: ACADNATSCI
Facebook: AcademyofNaturalSciences


$12 for adults
$10 for children ages 3–12, college students, seniors and military personnel
Free for members and children under 3
$2 additional for Butterflies!

Group Visits

School classes, camp groups, church members and other groups can make reservations by calling 215-299-1060. Groups that register in advance and have a minimum of 10 people can take advantage of reduced admission fees and a large lunch area. Group rates are not available at the door.


For the hearing impaired

  • The auditorium is equipped with assisted-listening devices. Ask at the admissions desk.

For the mobility impaired

  • Wheelchair accessible entrance at 19th Street
  • A limited number of wheelchairs are available on request.
  • Elevators in the front and rear of the museum provide access to all floors.
  • Restroom stalls with railings accommodate wheelchairs.
  • Automatic doors are available for restrooms on the ground floor.

For the visually impaired

Some exhibits and activities may be of particular interest to the visually impaired:

  • A number of dinosaur skulls and other hands-on displays in Dinosaur Hall
  • Outside In features live animals and specimens people can touch and smell.


Academy Café

Take a break in a relaxing eatery complete with friendly staff and an abundant menu. Choose from a variety of hot and cold items, including pizza, hot dogs, fresh salads, fruit, and heart-healthy soups and sandwiches.

Academy Shop

Take a piece of the Academy home with a gift from the Academy Shop. Merchandise is based around environmental themes and enhancing knowledge. From keepsakes and collectibles to educational kits and children’s books, items range from instructional to inspiring.


Become a member and enjoy unlimited free admission; invitations to exhibit previews and Academy events; discounts in the Academy Shop; and special Academy publications. Various membership levels.

Facility Rentals

Dine among dinosaurs and sip cocktails on the North American plains. The wide variety of stunning spaces in the museum makes it easy to find an area that’s perfect for any special event. We can accommodate up to 1,000 guests, and audio-visual services and an auditorium that seats 400 are at your service.

Science Lessons for School Groups

Discovery Lessons

Hands-on lessons using museum specimens create a memorable experience for visiting students. Programs for grades Pre-K–2, 3–6, and 6 and up. Programs run 35 minutes. Discovery Lessons are also offered to students in grades 7–9, these in-depth investigations of significant scientific topics are longer and more involved. Students work in small groups to perform experiments and problem-solve. Programs run 90 minutes.

Outreach Lessons – Academy on the Go

We bring the excitement of a museum visit to your auditorium, classroom or community event, complete with specimens, live animals, audience participation and our expert naturalists. Lessons vary depending on group size and age.

Research at the Academy

Almost since its founding in 1812, Academy scientists have conducted scientific expeditions and collected specimens for research purposes. Research in the Center for Systematic Biology and Evolution focuses on biodiversity, ecology, evolution, molecular systematics and paleontology. The Patrick Center for Environmental Research focuses on aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems to enhance environmental quality. The Asia Center conducts research and forges partnerships in Asia. The Center for Environmental Policy informs and engages various constituents, promotes solutions, and builds public and professional awareness on important environmental topics. The research collections, among the oldest and best specimen collections in the world, contain more than 17 million animals and plants, including extinct species and those designated “national treasures.”

Ewell Sale Stewart Library and Archives

The Academy’s Library, among the best natural history libraries in the world, is open to researchers by appointment. The Library houses 200,000 volumes, plus artworks, artifacts, historic and contemporary expedition diaries and more, dating back to the 1500s.