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Academy of Natural Sciences Reopens Jan. 8 and Launches Permian Monsters: Life Before the Dinosaurs

Health and safety protocols remain in place for all staff and visitors

PHILADELPHIA, January 5, 2021

The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University will reopen on Friday, Jan. 8, with a new exhibition, the continuation of a wildlife photography exhibit, and virtual programming for Environmental Justice Week starting Jan. 11.

The museum’s hours are Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., with a members-only hour from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. each day. In addition, the Academy will be open on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Monday, Jan. 18, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., with a members-only hour from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m.

Permian Monsters: Life Before the Dinosaurs

On Jan. 8, Permian Monsters: Life Before the Dinosaurs makes its long-awaited debut. It was set to open Nov. 20, the day the city ordered museums and other public facilities to temporarily close due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Permian Monsters takes visitors on a trip back in time 290 million years to when bizarre-looking creatures dominated life on land and sea, and dinosaurs had not yet evolved. Vivid artwork, amazing fossils and full-size scientifically accurate models of moving beasts to recreate the Permian period that ended with the most devastating mass extinction the world has ever seen.

Visitors will explore odd-looking sharks, strange reptilelike precursors of mammals, a vicious giant saber-toothed gorgonopsid, and other extinct creatures that ruled the world millions of years before the dinosaurs. The Permian lasted from 299 to 251 million years ago and produced the first large plant-eating and meat-eating animals. The period ended with the extinction of some 90% of all life.

What caused this mass extinction had baffled scientists for the last 20 years, but a recent discovery shed new light on the cause: global warming. Permian Monsters will be on view through Jan. 17, 2022.

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Located in the museum’s new natural-light-filled gallery, Wildlife Photographer of the Year will reopen and will be on view through Monday, Feb. 15. Organized by the Natural History Museum in London, WPY is one of the world’s longest running and most prestigious photography competitions. The exhibit features 100 winning images that relate thought-provoking stories about the natural world and the future we want to create.

Environmental Justice Week

Starting Monday, Jan. 11, the Academy celebrates Environmental Justice Week with a festival of compelling free virtual programming commemorating the work of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in the context of today. Panel discussions, film screenings, downloadable content and resource guides provide everyone the opportunity to explore the concept of environmental justice and why it is critical to the Academy’s work in serving communities. Kids can join with other children for conversations and storytelling aimed at inspiring a more equitable future. For more information and to register for Environmental Justice Week activities, visit

Health and Safety Protocols

The Academy remains committed to following the health and safety guidelines set forth by state and city officials and maintaining all the proper protocols to ensure the health, safety and enjoyment of staff and visitors. Visitors and staff will be required to wear face coverings and to maintain social distancing of 6 feet. Hand sanitizer stations are placed throughout the museum and plexiglass partitions installed in the admissions areas. Strenuous high-grade cleaning and sanitizing will take place at regular intervals throughout each day.

In order to limit the number of visitors in the building at any one time to 25% capacity and to limit contact at check-in, admission will be by timed ticket sold online in advance. Time slots will be at the top of the hour — 11 a.m., noon and so on, with the last ticket of the day issued for 4 p.m. A number of tickets will be available at the door, but visitors may have to wait for a time slot to become available.

Full details on purchasing tickets and other admissions issues are available at

These exhibits will remain closed due to their high-touch experiences: Outside In, Butterflies! and The Big Dig. The Academy Café and Academy Shop also will remain closed.


To download images of the exhibits, visit the Press Room.