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You won’t find exhibits like these anywhere else in New England. Comprehensive in scope yet intimate in scale, the Museum presents a rare glimpse at the exotic, and a fresh look at the familiar.

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Birds of the World Gallery

A new permanent exhibition 

Boasting over 10,000 species, birds are the most diverse land vertebrates on the planet, surpassing the biological diversity of mammals, reptiles, and amphibians. Thriving in every corner of the globe, from tropical forests to polar ice caps, birds vary tremendously in habit and size, from diminutive bee hummingbirds to towering 10-foot-high elephant birds.

In celebration of these beaked and feathered marvels, the Harvard Museum of Natural History has just opened the new Birds of the World gallery. This exhibition is the culmination of months of cleaning and restoring mounted bird specimens from the ornithology collection of the Museum of Comparative Zoology, completely refurbishing antique cases, and redesigning the exhibit displays. On the balcony encircling the museum’s Great Mammal Hall, this bright, newly remodeled gallery captures the staggering diversity of birds with many hundreds of stunning specimens, representing over 200 different bird families. New exhibit displays reveal the very latest in surprising scientific discoveries about the evolution of these modern dinosaurs.

This exhibition is made possible by a generous gift in memory of Melvin R. Seiden, Harvard AB 1952, LLB 1955.

Images courtesy of the Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University

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Sea Creatures in Glass

A new permanent exhibition now on view

Watch a video on the restoration of the Blaschka invertebrate models

Many years before they were commissioned by Harvard University to make the Glass Flowers, father and son artists Leopold and Rudolf Blaschka meticulously shaped glass into lifelike models of marine and terrestrial animals. Renowned for their beauty and exacting detail, the Blaschka invertebrate models were commissioned by universities and museums throughout world during the nineteenth century.

The museum has just opened a permanent display of 60 models from the Museum of Comparative Zoology’s collection of 430 Blaschka invertebrate models. Delicate jellyfish and anemones, octopus, tentacled squid, bizarre-looking sea slugs or nudibranchs, and other soft-bodied sea creatures captured in glass are a sparkling testament to the Blaschka legacy.

The exhibit is the culmination of the Museum of Comparative Zoology's near completion of an eight-year project to curate, clean, and repair all of its 430 invertebrate models. Together with Harvard’s Ware Collection of Glass Models of Plants, with over 3,200 specimens on display, these restored glass animals now comprise the largest Blaschka collection on display in the world.

Read the press release

Support for Sea Creatures in Glass is made possible by a generous gift in memory of Melvin R. Seiden, Harvard AB 1952, LLB 1955.

Images courtesy of the Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University Image

 
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The Glass Flowers

One of the Museum’s most famous treasures is the internationally acclaimed Ware Collection of Blaschka Glass Models of Plants, the “Glass Flowers." This unique collection of over 4,000 models—some 3,000 on display—was  created by the glass artisans, Leopold Blaschka and his son, Rudolf. The commission began in 1886, continued for five decades, and represents more than 830 plant species.

The museum recently installed several Blaschka glass models from the Ware Collection which have not been seen at Harvard for over a decade. See amazingly realistic models of apple and apricot plants illustrating some of the diseases affecting fruits of the Rosaceae family. Other newly installed models illustrate insect pollination, showing bees enlarged to five inches in size to show pollination techniques.
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Earth & Planetary Sciences Gallery

This renovated gallery displays thousands of rare minerals and sparkling gemstones in both rough and cut examples, including a 1,600-pound amethyst geode from Brazil. Exhibits highlight new research and offer a broad overview of the dynamic processes and events that formed our planet and that have shaped its continuing evolution. Visitors can touch rock and mineral specimens that date back to the beginning of our solar system. Uncover mysteries of our planet's origins revealed in ancient meteorites and terrestrial rock containing some of the oldest minerals on Earth, zircon crystals that have survived intact for 4.3 billion years! Read more in the press release.

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New England Forests in the Zofnass Family Gallery  

A multi-media exhibition that explores the natural history and ecology of our regional forests, their responses to human activity, and their environmental significance. Visitors are invited to explore the ecology of woodland caribou, wolves, and other wildlife of New England; learn about lichen cities that cling to rocks; and the circle of life within and around a forest pond from tiny aquatic insects to giant moose. 

View short informational videos about New England’s forest history, ecology, and wildlife, and learn about the research of Harvard scientists in our regional forests.

Read more about the exhibition in the press release.
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Great Mammal Hall

This historic gallery, constructed in 1872, reflects the grand vision of the founder of Harvard's Museum of Comparative Zoology, Swiss zoologist and Harvard Professor Louis Agassiz. In celebration of the 150th anniversary of the MCZ, the gallery was renovated to its original look and feel while incorporating new scientific information and green materials and technologies.

Take a virtual tour of the renovated Great Mammal Hall.
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Arthropods: Creatures that Rule

Featuring hands-on activities, dramatic specimen displays, colorful video and graphics, and even live animals, this exhibition draws on the latest scientific research to explore arthropods’ extraordinary evolutionary success and their impact on our lives. Evolving for more than 500 million years, these creatures range in size from giant king crabs to microscopic mites, represent over 80% of all animal species, and have colonized every corner of the planet. 

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Featuring these adaptable arthropods, which are some of the oldest land-living animals on Earth. Learn about how they thrived in lush coal forests 300 million years ago, survived multiple mass extinctions, and today encompass 4,500 species, including some of the most beautiful and colorful insects on the planet.  
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Africa Gallery  

Renovated and reinterpreted, with new energy-efficient lighting and colorful graphic displays, the historic gallery features a new interactive video display addressing endangered species. Visitors will see impressive mounted specimens of African wildlife, collected over a century ago, including hippopotamus, lions, ostrich, gorillas, hyena, plus a variety of rare animals from the island of Madagascar. 

Read more about the gallery renovations in the press release.
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EVOLUTION

EVOLUTION invites visitors to examine the fossil, anatomical, and genetic evidence that all life is connected through a shared evolutionary history. View animals and plants that sparked Darwin’s theory, dramatic displays of diversity within species, and computer simulations that demonstrate how natural selection acts.

See a model of the 375-million-year-old fossilized remains of Tiktaalik roseae (see image below)—a fossil fish dubbed the “missing link” between fish and land animals—discovered in 2004 by a team of scientists in northern Canada.

EVOLUTION offers a behind-the-scenes look at ongoing evolution research at Harvard, from exciting new discoveries about human origins, to surprising insights from new genetic and developmental studies on Darwin's finches. Watch a five-minute sampling of research videos, available in the EVOLUTION exhibition, made for the Assembling of the Tree of Life initiative. 

Read press release:
Tree of Life visualization touch-table developed at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) puts evolution at visitors' fingertips.
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Fishes Gallery

The renovated historic gallery explores the diversity of fishes from gars to groupers and stonefishes to seahorses. Visitors are invited rediscover some iconic specimens including the hammerhead and mako sharks, the massive bluefin tuna, and the prickly porcupine fish, as well as discover new specimens borrowed from the Ichthyology Collections of Harvard's Museum of Comparative Zoology. Fishes combines specimens with 3-D models, colorful graphic displays, and an interactive multimedia station profiling the research of faculty, staff, and students in Harvard's Lauder Laboratory. 

View short informational videos about Harvard's world-class fish collection and the Lauder Laboratory.
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The Zoological Galleries

The zoological galleries feature examples of animals ranging from the earliest prehistoric creatures, including fossil invertebrates, reptiles, and dinosaurs, to today’s mammals, birds, and fish from around the world. Exhibition highlights include the Triceratops type specimen (first ever described) and the world’s only mounted Kronosaurus, a 42-foot-long prehistoric marine reptile.
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