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Two New Exhibitions Blend Science and Art to Reveal a Hidden World of Water This Fall at the Academy of Natural Sciences

Calendar of Events, September–November 2021 

PHILADELPHIA, September 7, 2021

Two new exhibitions that blend science and art to reveal the hidden world in water and its connection to climate change open this fall at the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University.

Sea Change: How Shelled Pteropods Reveal Ocean Acidification opened Sept. 1 in the Academy’s new Spotlight Gallery and uses stunning photographs and videos to introduce visitors to pteropods, tiny ocean snails that scientists use to study ocean acidification and climate change.

Invisible World of Water opening Nov. 13 focuses on two micro phenomena of water—snow crystals and diatoms—and presents parallel histories of observation through the marvelous insight of both scientific and artistic inquiry.

Permian Monsters: Life Before the Dinosaurs and Gideon Mendel: Drowning World continue their run, and a new season of fall programs for both adults and children awaits. See below for what’s on the calendar so far this fall and check for the lastest at 

The Academy is open Wednesdays through Sundays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. with the first hour reserved for members. The Academy continues to provide a safe environment for visitors by following city and state health and safety protocols: social distancing, mandatory face coverings, hand sanitizer stations and recommended timed ticketing.

First Exhibit in New Spotlight Gallery
Sea Change: How Shelled Pteropods Reveal Ocean Acidification

Pteropods, affectionately known as “potato chips of the sea,” are tiny ocean snails that help form the base of the ocean food web. Their thin, fragile shells are sensitive to changes in ocean chemistry. Sea Change: How Shelled Pteropods Reveal Ocean Acidification centers around the research of former Academy scientist Rosie Oakes, PhD, who studies the effects of climate change on pteropods, monitoring their shells to measure the effects of ocean acidification on ocean life. This modest exhibit in the new Spotlight Gallery includes stunning photography, wall projections with hypnotic undersea footage, video interviews with scientists, and a video slideshow on ocean acidification. Sea Change is presented in conjunction with Drexel University’s Climate Year and is the first exhibit in the Academy’s newly created Spotlight Gallery.

Special Exhibit
Gideon Mendel: Drowning World 
Through Sunday, Oct. 17

Drowning World is a unique photographic exploration of flooding, a stark portrayal of the human condition within the context of overwhelming climate events around the world. The exhibition features 37 photographs, a video and a found object display by leading contemporary photographer Gideon Mendel, a native of South Africa. Mendel began photographing major floods in 2007 when one in England and another in India occurred within two weeks of each other. Their proximity struck him as a shared vulnerability that seemed to unite people. Drowning World includes color images of some of the poorest and some of the wealthiest communities in the U.S. and around the world, all exposed to the floodwater that envelops them. In this moment the floods are a leveling factor, and people are brought together in visual solidarity.

Special Exhibit
Permian Monsters: Life Before the Dinosaurs 
Through Monday, Jan. 17, 2022 

Step back 290 million years to when bizarre-looking creatures dominated life on land and sea, and dinosaurs had not yet evolved. Permian Monsters blends vivid artwork, amazing fossils and scientifically accurate models of moving beasts to recreate this relatively unknown period when the greatest mass extinction wiped out creatures that will never be discovered. Explore odd-looking sharks, strange reptiles with mammal-like characteristics, and the vicious predator the giant saber-toothed gorgonopsid. Play paleontologist and dig for fossil casts, enjoy interactive games and more.

Academy Town Square: More Livable Communities in an Era of Climate Change
Thursday, Sept. 9, 8-9 p.m. 

As we adapt to our changing climate, unexpected benefits may follow, especially for marginalized communities. Efforts to reduce heating and flooding bring more green spaces that are known to strengthen mental health and improve communities. Emergency preparedness efforts create more accessible areas for older and disabled members of the community. Join us to explore how these solutions to climate change provide an opportunity for equity to marginalized Black and Latino communities. This panel discussion via Zoom features Violeta Yas, meteorologist, NBC10 Philadelphia and Telemundo62; and Karema Seliem, LEED Social Equity Subject Matter Expert, U.S. Green Building Council; moderator Alexis Schulman, the Academy of Natural Sciences’ Dolan Fellow for Innovation in Water Science and Environmental Policy, Planning, and Innovation Section Lead, Patrick Center for Environmental Research. To register, visit

A Shaker of Science: Waxing Weather
Thursday, Sept. 23, 5:30-6:30 p.m.

Join the Academy of Natural Sciences for a virtual live happy hour with NBC10 meteorologist Steve Sosna. From pumping us up for a possible snow day, to saving lives with early extreme weather warnings, the local weather is an integral part of our daily lives. Data is constantly being gathered and crunched to provide forecasts. But it’s not all satellites, radar and supercomputers. When it comes down to how the weather will affect your life, we rely on our local weather people to sort through the noise, double check the data, and deliver the forecast relevant to us.  At this Shaker of Science, NBC10 First Alert Meteorologist Steve Sosna takes us behind the scenes to show how the NBC10 First Alert Weather team turns weather data into the weather reports we rely on. To register, visit

Junior Scientist Workshop: What’s Down the Shore?
Saturday, Sept. 25, 10 a.m.-Noon

Why do we all like going to the beach? Shorelines are some of the most popular places for people to live and relax, but there’s so much more on the shore. Many species of birds, fish, mammals and tons of invertebrates can be found there. Find out just how many shelled creatures there are with a peek at the Academy’s vast Malacology Collection and learn about the amazing adaptations they have. Discover the most successful strategies for life on the beach with hands-on activities and find out how survival is a shore thing. For more information, fee and to register, visit

Paleo Playdate Dates
Wednesdays Oct. 6, Oct. 13, Oct. 20, Oct. 27, Nov. 3 and Nov. 10, 10:15-11 a.m.

Calling curious kiddos: Grab your favorite plastic dinosaur, stuffed animal or toy bug and join us at the Academy for a playful preschool party. Have fun with Academy experts and other young natural history fans for a special science story time. Each week features new stories, new hands-on activities, take-home crafts, and room to move and explore. Everyone can chat, play and show off their knowledge, and you’ll meet a new special guest each week. Whether you’d like to learn more about dinosaurs or dioramas, or if you just dream of becoming a scientist, Academy experts will be ready to answer your questions and have some fun. Paleo Playdate was developed for preschoolers and their families to enjoy together. For more information, fee and to register,

Saturday, Oct. 16–Sunday, Oct. 24
Online and In Person 

Paleopalooza is back for another dino-mite season with a Mesozoic mix of virtual and in-person programming over a wild week. From hands-on workshops to digital drawing class to fossil exploration stations, there’s something for paleo fans of all ages to enjoy online or at the museum. For program details, visit 

Junior Scientist Workshop: When Did Dinos Rule the World?
Saturday, Oct. 16, 10 a.m.-Noon

We are fascinated by fossils, but what do they say about how times have changed? They tell a tale as old as time, deep time that is. Be transported back in history to when dinosaurs walked the earth and ancient reptiles swam the seas. Explore specimens from the Academy’s collection and learn how to read them to learn the stories of environments, evolution and extinction. Find out how Academy scientists collect, prepare and study fossils, and practice the skills yourself under the guiding eyes of an Academy paleontologist. Take home your own fossil cast to add to your collection and become a part of the Academy dinosaur-loving team. For more information, fee and to register, visit

Special Exhibit
Invisible World of Water
Saturday, Nov. 13–Sunday, April 17, 2022

Invisible World of Water renews our appreciation for the vital element of water through artworks that combine the marvel and insight of both scientific and artistic inquiry. Centered around two micro phenomena of water—snow crystals and diatoms—the exhibition presents two parallel histories of observation and shows the interplay between the microcosmic and macrocosmic. Diatoms, the wondrous jewels of water encased in glass that lie at the heart of the food chain and generate a major portion of the world’s oxygen, are often compared with snow crystals. The exhibition combines rare historical Victorian-arranged diatom slides by Harold Dalton and others; microphotographs by Ukichiro Nakaya; contemporary ceramic sculpture by Margarita Hagan; and stop-motion imagery by physicist Kenneth Liebbrecht. Invisible World of Water considers the hidden connections that flow among water, land and air through earth’s hydrosphere. The Academy of Natural Sciences’ important role in waterway ecology began decades ago with Dr. Ruth Patrick, a diatomist who advocated for an integrated, holistic approach to waterway health in her groundbreaking work in ecology. 

Junior Scientist Workshop: How Do Trees Get Ready for Winter?
Saturday, Nov. 13, 10 a.m.-Noon

We love the vibrant colors of fall, but why do trees put on such a show every year? The secret is in their chemistry. Work with Academy botanists to discover how trees get ready to hunker down for the cold winter. Try an experiment to unlock the chemistry of the autumn and check out rare specimens from the Academy Botany Collection. Find out why some leaves change color and discover what other tricks trees might just be hiding deep in their xylem and phloem. For more information, fee and to register, visit