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Outside In Gets a Makeover, Reopens Feb. 8

PHILADELPHIA, January 21, 2014

Outside In, the beloved children’s nature discovery center of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University, is getting a makeover. When it reopens Saturday, Feb. 8, the hands-on exhibit will feature new play areas and activities that will engage children and their caregivers in the natural world.

For many youngsters, a visit to Outside In is the first time they experience the thrill of touching a live legless lizard, the bravery of holding a live Madagascar hissing cockroach in the palms of their tiny hands, or the wonder at peering through a microscope. Designed primarily for children ages 3–8, the center is a must-see part of the museum for many families and schoolchildren. For parents, teachers and caregivers, Outside In is a special place where children can learn basic science at their own educational level while having fun.

“In Outside In, children can practice developing foundational scientific skills such as making observations using their senses and making predictions,” said Timshel Purdum, the Academy’s director of education and lifelong learning. “The close encounters with some of our live animals provide a sense of wonder and help encourage our young visitors’ natural curiosity.”

When it reopens after the monthlong renovation, Outside In will feature:

  • a new eagle’s nest that kids can climb into and pretend to be a majestic bird;
  • a  special microscope with a large screen that lets kids look at natural objects such as feathers and animals;
  • new housing for the live animals;
  • new costumes for dramatic dress-up;
  • a hands-on nature lab where kids can explore new furs, skulls, animal skins, minerals, and more;
  • an updated sandy beach with beautiful seashells;
  • a refurbished life-size tree with hidden animals that children will enjoy rediscovering with each visit;
  • new books and comfy critter pillows to relax on;
  • two custom stereo soundscapes to set the mood of the immersive environment.

The concept of Outside In dates back to 1959 when the Junior League of Philadelphia, a philanthropic women’s organization, helped create a new children’s area within the museum, according to A Glorious Enterprise: The Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia and the Making of American Science, a book co-written by Academy Senior Fellow Robert McCracken Peck and Patricia Tyson Stroud. The Academy’s Junior Museum opened in 1960 and set the precedent for new child-friendly spaces in the Academy.

In 1976 the Please Touch Museum was started at the Academy and two years later moved to its own facility. In 1979 the Academy created Outside-In (it was originally hyphenated) on the wave of a nationwide movement toward educational offerings for younger audiences, a trend that has continued.

Those wishing to support Outside In and the animals that live there can purchase customized animal plaques that will become a central feature of the new and improved Outside In. To learn more, visit  or call the Office of Institutional Advancement at 215-299-1122.

Media Contact

Carolyn Belardo

Director of Public Relations
Phone: 215.299.1043