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Celebrating Water Through Engaging Exhibits and Programs

Calendar of Events January–March 2022 

PHILADELPHIA, December 7, 2021

Hidden Works of Nature, Invisible Worlds, the Cycle of Life. Sounds mysterious and exciting, and it’s all happening at the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University this winter. 

Much of the Academy’s programming this season relates to the revealing special exhibition Invisible World of Water, the first project in the institution’s yearlong focus on water. The varied programming and the exhibit are designed to renew our appreciation for the vital element of water through engaging artworks, movies, musical performances, library and archives tours, workshops and hands-on experiences. 

Below is a list of what’s coming up this winter; visit for the latest updates. 

The Academy is open Wednesdays through Sundays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and members only from 9 am. to 10 a.m. The museum will be closed Saturday, Jan. 1. 

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

Step back 290 million years to when bizarre-looking creatures dominated life on land and sea, and dinosaurs had not yet evolved. Permian Monsters: Life Before the Dinosaurs 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, the vicious giant saber-toothed gorgonopsid, and more.

Special Exhibit 
Invisible World of Water 
Through Sunday, April 17

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 — snow crystals and diatoms — the exhibition presents parallel histories of observation and shows the interplay between the micro-cosmic and macro-cosmic. Invisible World of Water includes illustrations of rare books (by Robert Hooke, Christian Gottfried Ehrenberg and Ernst Haeckel); Victorian-era arranged diatom slides by Harold Dalton and others; microphotographs by Snowflake Bentley and Ukichiro Nakaya; artifacts documenting the groundbreaking research of Academy scientist Ruth Patrick; contemporary ceramic sculpture by Marguerita Hagan; holographic light field display scanning electron microscope images of diatoms; stop-motion imagery by physicist Kenneth Libbrecht; and high-resolution photography by Nathan Myhrvold. Invisible World of Water considers the hidden connections and the flow between water, land and air through Earth’s hydrosphere.

Hidden Works of Nature: The Microscopic World in the Library & Archives
Fridays, Jan. 7 and 21, Feb. 7 and 18, and March 4 and 18 at 11 a.m., Noon, 1 p.m., 2 p.m., 3 p.m. and 4 p.m.

The Academy Library & Archives opens its doors for special behind-the-scenes access to its rare books and unique stories connected to Academy history and the exhibit Invisible World of Water. Each 20-minute experience is informal and guided by knowledgeable staff who relate a sweeping historical view of the development of the study of diatoms and microscopical investigations, as reflected in the exhibit. Free with museum admission.

Junior Scientist Workshop: What’s So Amazing About a Diatom? 
Saturday, Jan. 22, 10 a.m.–Noon

Microscopic, single-celled diatoms are considered the “jewels of the sea” and exist almost anywhere there is sunlight and water. They are responsible for every fourth breath that you take! Get a rare glimpse of the Academy’s Diatom Collection and learn how the Academy pioneered water research with diatoms that provide information about the health of our waterways. Discover how diatoms have inspired scientists to invent special tools and create beautiful art. Create and take home your own daring diatom design. Learn why the Academy’s Diatom Collection has the biggest impact on the world even though it has some of the tiniest specimens. Grades 3-5. For more information and to register, visit 

Invisible Worlds and the Cycle of Life 
Sunday, Jan. 30, 2 p.m.

Drexel Professor of History, Lloyd Ackert, PhD, presents a story of scientific creativity influenced by music, politics and sulfur springs. A fascinating tale of how microbes connect the world of the living with the realm of the dead. Following Ackert’s presentation, guests will be invited to tour the Academy’s exhibit Invisible World of Water with Ackert and exhibition Curator Marina McDougall. Free; register at

The Pine Barrens 
Saturday, Feb. 12, 3 p.m.

Featuring David Scott Kessler’s film The Pine Barrens, this evening of art and science will transport you to the unique culture and ecology of the New Jersey Pine Barrens. View guest art installations and Pine Barrens specimens from the Academy’s collection. At 5:30 p.m. The Pine Barrens will be screened in the auditorium with an accompanying live score by the Ruins of Friendship Orchestra on stage. Tickets $35, proof of vaccination is required; streaming option also is available. To register, visit

Junior Scientist Workshop: How Do Plants Communicate?

Saturday, Feb. 12, 10 a.m.–Noon 

Learn to interpret the unique signals that plants send, from “Stay away!” to “Help me move!” Explore plant chemical defenses, as well as plant and animal interactions. Examine Valentine’s Day flowers and fruits to discover all the ways that plants communicate with friends and foes. Enjoy a guided taste test of chocolate, peppers and other botanicals to find out just how good plants are at communicating. Grades 3-5. For more information and to register, visit

Growing Art from Science
Wednesday, Feb. 23, 6:30 p.m. 

Join the multi-disciplinary talent behind Rising Tide: The Crossroads Project for an exploration of how science can beget art, and art can give voice to science. Now more than ever, we must find a way to present the science of our changing world in a way that inspires souls and ignites responses. Discover what inspires our creative panelists as they present a live discussion at the Academy. In addition, you can experience The Crossroads Project’s live performance fusing original music with art, imagery and science on Thursday, Feb. 24 at Drexel University’s Mandell Theater. Both the panel discussion at the Academy and the performance at the Mandell Theater are free with reservations. For reservations to both, visit 

Junior Scientist Workshop: Water Bugs 
Saturday, March 19, 10 a.m.–Noon

Learn about the invertebrates and plants that indicate if a stream is healthy and how their unique adaptations give them a chance to survive in their watery habitats. Discover the ways in which these living things are interconnected and contribute to a healthy ecosystem. Practice examining how the smallest species provide the biggest clues and explore real solutions to keep our waterways clean and safe. Grades 3-5. For more information and to register, visit