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Self-Guided Visits

the big dig
A parent and a child looking at a permian monster.Planning a future visit? Check out our offerings below!

Take your students on an exciting exploration of the natural world. Our three floors of exhibits, ranging from dinosaurs and dioramas to hands-on interactive stations, are sure to make your field trip to the Academy the highlight of the school year.

Special Exhibits

Permian Monsters

November 21, 2021 – January 17, 2022

What did the world look like before the dinosaurs? 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 reptilelike precursors of mammals, and the vicious predator the giant saber-toothed gorgonopsid. Play paleontologist and dig for fossil casts, enjoy interactive games and more.

Invisible World of Water

Opening November 13, 2021 – April 17, 2022

The first project in the Academy of Natural Sciences’ yearlong focus on water renews our appreciation for the vital element of water through artworks that combine the marvel and insight of both scientific and artistic inquiry.

The exhibition 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 diatom scientist Ruth Patrick; contemporary ceramic sculpture by Marguerita Hagan; stop-motion imagery by physicist Kenneth Libbrecht; and high-resolution photography by Nathan Myhrvold. The Invisible World of Water considers the hidden connections and the flow between water, land and air through Earth’s hydrosphere.

Signature Exhibits 

Dinosaur Hall

Explore the exciting world of paleontology, stroll beneath towering fossil skeletons, and examine dinosaur anatomy up close. Stop by the Fossil Preparation Lab to talk with staff as they clean and prepare real fossils.

NEW! Chaperones, download our Dinosaur Hall Scavenger Hunt! Answer key located here.

Dioramas of Africa, Asia, and North America

Travel the globe without leaving the museum! Our ever-popular dioramas let students get nose-to-nose with gorillas from Africa, pandas from Asia, and bison from North America. Chaperons may also find the following exhibit guides useful: Africa and Asia Diorama Hall Activity Guide and North American Journey.

Science at the Academy

Find out what Academy scientists are up to these days in this multimedia exhibit. Watch video footage from research expeditions, see recently collected specimens, and find out about our latest scientific discoveries.