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Milestones in Two Centuries of the Academy of Natural Sciences

Philadelphia, March 1, 2012

1812         The Academy is founded by seven amateur naturalists.

1813         First public lecture – on botany – is offered.

1817         First issue of the Journal is published.

1817         First Academy-sponsored expedition (to Florida) leaves.

1818         Thomas Jefferson is elected a corresponding member.

1828         Museum opens to the public at 12th and Sansom Streets, Philadelphia.

1831         John James Audubon is elected a corresponding member.

1840         The Academy moves into first building built specifically to house its scientific collections and activities, at Broad and Sansom Streets, Philadelphia.

1841         First issue of Proceedings is published.

1847         American Medical Association is founded at the Academy.

1848         American Association for the Advancement of Science is founded at the Academy.

1855         The Academy sponsors Paul Du Chaillu’s first expedition to West Africa during which he becomes the first westerner to see live gorillas and collect gorilla specimens from the wild.

1856         Lewis and Clark plant specimens are given to the Academy.

1858         Dr. Joseph Leidy identifies Hadrosaurus foulki, the most complete dinosaur found.

1860         Charles Darwin is elected a corresponding member.

1869         Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins mounts Hadrosaurus foulkii for public display, the first articulated dinosaur skeleton to be exhibited in any museum in the world.

1870         Curators vote to impose the museum’s first admission fee (10 cents) in response to the huge public interest in seeing Hadrosaurus foulkii.

1876         The Academy moves to current 19th Street location and holds its first meeting in time to celebrate U.S. centennial.

1876         American Entomological Society chooses the Academy as its headquarters and repository for its collections and library. 

1891         The Academy participates in Robert Peary’s expedition to Greenland.

1929         Dioramas begin to be built to display specimens in natural settings.

1936         The Academy’s Education Department is established.

1937         The Academy celebrates 125th anniversary with International Symposium on Early Man.

1947         Dr. Ruth Patrick founds the Limnology Department – now the Patrick Center for Environmental Research – to apply understanding of aquatic ecosystems to environmental problems, especially water pollution.

1963         John W. Bodine becomes the first paid President and CEO of the Academy.

1970         The Academy participates in the first national Earth Day.

1971         The Academy’s Women’s Committee conceives and organizes Philadelphia’s first annual “Super Sunday” celebration.

1977         Outside-In, a children’s discovery center, is established within the Academy.

1986         Discovering Dinosaurs permanent exhibit opens– today’s  the most popular attraction.

2004         The Academy hosts national exhibition on the Lewis and Clark Expedition.

2004         The Academy establishes “Town Square,” a forum for public discussion of environmental issues.

2006         Dr. Ted Daeschler and his team describe Tiktaalik roseae, a 375-million-year-old transitional fossil considered a “missing link” between sea and land animals.

2007         Dr. Ruth Patrick’s turns 100 and is honored at a formal dinner by 450 guests including the governor and the mayor.

2007         The Academy establishes the Asia Center for research in Asia.

2008         The Academy establishes the Center for Environmental Policy.

2009         Arctic explorer Lonnie Dupre carries the Academy flag to North Pole on the 100th anniversary of Robert Peary’s claimed attainment of the Pole.

2011         The Academy becomes an affiliate of Drexel University, creating an internationally recognized powerhouse for discovery in the natural and environmental sciences.

2012         The Academy marks its bicentennial with yearlong celebration.