Welcome to the Naturalist Center!
“This is soooo gross, but soooo cool!” I hear this comment often from our younger visitors as they explore the Naturalist Center for the first time. As they leave, I also hear them say “This is my very favorite exhibit in the whole Museum!” Since May of 2012, we’ve had 85,630 visitors so it seems like the Center is a favorite of just about everyone. I am the Coordinator of the Naturalist Center which is located on the second floor of the Nature Research Center. We represent a small sample of the Museum’s vast research collection of over 3 million specimens. While the research collection is only available to scientists, the Naturalist Center is open to the public so you can browse through our collection of over 1,000 non-living specimens including birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, fishes, insects, plants, fungi, fossils, rocks and minerals. Upon entering the room for the first time, you will be asked to watch a short video that explains how some of the specimens are prepared and how to handle them. Although we do have a play area for very young children, the room is really designed for older kids and access to the entire collection is restricted to children 8 years old and older. A highlight of the Naturalist Center are two interactive “touch tables”— these tables have built-in computers that allow you to “scan” a specimen and learn more about it by simply touching the table top.
We are very lucky to have a great group of volunteers who help staff the room. We’re always looking for more volunteers so please contact Cindy Lincoln or complete the volunteer application online if you are interested.
This summer we also have five fantastic interns. Stay tuned to this blog for entries about one intern’s experience with a raccoon skeleton!
The Naturalist Center is open Tuesday–Saturday, 10am–4pm and Sunday–Monday, 1–4pm. We’re also open late Thursday evenings from 5:30-8:30pm with special expert guests answering questions about spiders, mushrooms, rocks and much more (see Science Thursdays for more information).
If you can’t make it to the Museum, but have a question about the natural world, use the “Ask a Naturalist” form and we’ll get right back to you.
Thanks for checking out the debut blog from the Naturalist Center! Now, come visit us and the rest of the Museum!