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Science Ink: Tattoos of the Science Obsessed

Author talk and booksigning Carl Zimmer

Tuesday, December 13, 6:00 pm

In his newest book, Science Ink, bestselling author Carl Zimmer tackles an unusual topic: tattoos. Showcasing hundreds of eye-catching tattoos that pay tribute to various scientific disciplines, from evolutionary biology to astrophysics—Zimmer reveals the stories of individuals who express their science passions through body art. 


Winter Solstice Night at the Museum &

Revels' Headgear Gallery Performance

Wednesday, December 21, Extended hours 5:00-8:00 pm,
 Revels' Performance, 6:00 pm

A celebration of the winter solstice during extended hours at the museum. In collaboration with The Christmas Revels, the Pinewoods Morris Men performed the traditional Abbots Bromley Horn Dance in the museum's Headgear: The Natural History of Horns and Antlers gallery. The horn dance is the oldest known English ritual dance and features six human 'deer' with antlers weaving in and out in a hypnotic pattern to the sound of a haunting melody. Revels Artistic Director Patrick Swanson introduced the performance and David Coffin, a versatile musician and featured performer in his 32nd year with Revels, demonstrated horn-based musical instruments such as the gemshorns, the Pibcorn, and his ivory sopranino recorder.


National Fossil Day

Celebrating Earth Science Week

Wednesday, October 12, 1:00-5:00 pm

Explore the amazing prehistoric world of fossils including trilobites, dinosaurs, Ice Age mammals, and other creatures. Discover how fossils form and investigate fossilized bones, teeth, claws, and footprints.


The Species Seekers

Author talk by Richard Conniff

Sunday, November 20, 4:00 pm

Science writer/NPR commentator Richard Conniff told the story of the bold and colorful adventurers who risked death to discover strange life-forms in the farthest corners of planet Earth.
Illustration courtesy of Richard Conniff


Ghost Orchids

Artist talk and reception with Siobhan Healy

Friday, December 2, 4:00 pm

In this sculpture display in the museum’s Glass Flowers gallery, Scottish artist Siobhan Healy creates a subtle and thought-provoking piece inspired by the Ghost Orchid (Epipogium aphyllum), a rare British wild flower recently rediscovered after it was thought to be extinct for 23 years. Healy depicts the orchid in transient and ethereal clear glass, encouraging the viewer to reflect on the potential loss of this fragile species—an evocative emblem of the one in five of wild flowers that are threatened with extinction.
Photo courtesy of Siobhan Healy.


Relics: Travels in Nature's Time Machine

Lecture and booksigning by Piotr Naskrecki

Wednesday, November 30, 6:00 pm

In his newest book, Relics, world-renowned zoologist Piotr Naskrecki travels the globe to photograph “relics,” creatures or habitats that, while acted upon by evolution, remain remarkably similar to their earliest manifestations in the fossil record. From horseshoe crabs of the Atlantic to orchids of New Guinea, Naskrecki has created a time-lapse tour of life that has persisted nearly untouched for hundreds of millions of years.
Photo courtesy of Piotr Naskrecki


Life in the Extreme Deep

Lecture by Peter Girguis

Wednesday, October 12, 6:30 pm

The Gulf of Mexico oil spill 2010 was the largest accidental marine disaster in history, dumping nearly 5 million barrels into the ocean, causing extensive damage to marine and wildlife habitats, and to the Gulf's fishing and tourism industries. Peter Girguis, Loeb Associate Professor of Natural Sciences at Harvard, discussed how biologists are working with environmental and industry officials to understand how natural “oil-eating” microbes are able to aid in the cleanup.

Photo courtesy of Explore the

Bark: A Field Guide to Trees of the Northeast

Author talk by Michael Wojtech

Sunday, October 9, 2:00 pm

With detailed information and illustrations covering each phase of a tree's life-cycle, author and naturalist Michael Wojtech explained how to identify trees by their bark—the one tree characteristic that’s visible all year round.


How Much Can Trees and Forests Slow the Global Warming Increase?

Lecture by Steven Wofsy and Andrew Richardson

Wednesday, November 9, 6:00 pm

Much research and debate in the scientific community is devoted to question the impact forests have on the capture or sequestration of carbon dioxide, the primary gas that causes the climate-warming “greenhouse effect.” Hear two of Harvard’s most active climate researchers tackle the different perspectives on global warming, atmospheric chemist Steven Wofsy and forest ecologist Andrew Richardson.

Watch this lecture on the Video page.


The Emergent Forest of New England

Lecture by Peter Del Tredici

Thursday, October 27, 6:00 pm

Peter Del Tredici, botanist and senior research scientist at the Arnold Arboretum, presented an overview of the recent history of the forests of southern New England as impacted by natural disasters, shifting land-use patterns (urbanization and suburban sprawl), introduced pests and pathogens, invasive species, acid rain, and climate change.

Watch this lecture on the Video page.


Challenges and Choices: The History and Future of New England's Forests

Lecture by David Foster

Wednesday, September 14, 6:00 pm

David Foster, Director of Harvard Forest, discussed more than a century of research at the Harvard Forest and the challenges and choices we face in planning our forests’ future.
Photo by J. Beller, courtesy of The Trustees of Reservations.

Watch this lecture on the Video page


Superbat: A Documentary Screening

Wednesday, August 24, 6:00pm

This 48-minute documentary explores the world of bats and the scientists who study them – including the late Donald Griffin, a Harvard zoologist who was the first to describe their echolocation ability in the 1940s. Using 3-D graphics to recreate the bats' acoustic vision and shooting with infra-red and high-speed cameras, this film offers an exhilarating "bats-eye" journey into the night.

Screening followed by a discussion with Jonathan Reichard, a post-doctoral researcher in the Kunz Bat Laboratory at  Boston University.   


Kraken: The Curious, Exciting, and Slightly Disturbing Science of Squid

Author talk and booksigning with  Wendy Williams

Wednesday, June 22, 7:00 pm

In her book, Kraken, Wendy Williams explores the fascinating world of squid and how humans and these strange undersea life forms share basic biology.


The Secrets of Field Notes: Capturing Science,
Nature, and Exploration

Lecture by Michael Canfield

Tuesday, May 10, 6:00 pm

In this fascinating new collection, Field Notes on Science and Nature, Harvard University Press provides  a rare glimpse into the journals of top scientists such as Charles Darwin, George Schaller, and Kenn Kaufman. Editor Michael Canfield, lecturer in biology at Harvard, discussed what makes these notes and journals so important, the secrets they reveal, and how they can help us cultivate skills as a bird watcher, citizen scientist, or adventurer. Illustration courtesy of Harvard University Press.


Once and Future Giants: What Ice Age Extinctions Tell Us About the Fate of Earth's Largest Animals

Author talk and booksigning with Sharon Levy

Saturday, April 30, 3:30 pm

In her new book, Once and Future Giants, science writer Sharon Levy digs through the evidence surrounding Pleistocene extinction events worldwide, showing how an understanding of this history and our part in it is crucial for protecting elephants, polar bears, tigers, and other endangered megafauna.


The Moral Lives of Animals

Author talk by Dale Peterson

Saturday, March 26, 2:00 pm

Drawing upon evolutionary theory and scientific studies of a wide variety of animals—including apes, dogs, dolphins and lizards—Peterson eplained how much animal behavior follows principles embodied in humanity’s ancient moral codes, from the Ten Commandments to the New Testament.
Photo by Susan Wilson


Great White Bear: A Natural & Unnatural History
of the Polar Bear

Author talk and booksigning by Kieran Mulvaney

Saturday, February 5, 2:00 pm

Through a blend of history, science, myth and personal observations, Kieran Mulvaney’s new book, Great White Bear (Houghton Mifflin), provides a new lens for readers to appreciate the polar bear, its unique biology, and its uncertain fate.


Restoring an Urban Watershed: Ecology, Equity, and Design
New Directions in EcoPlanning Annual Lecture

by Anne Whiston Spirn

Wednesday, March 30, 6:00 pm

Anne Whiston Spirn, lauded by the Boston Globe as an "urban visionary" focused on the story of Mill Creek's restoration as a model for uniting science, design, and community engagement to address social and environmental problems. Spirn discussed how "landscape literacy" is just as critical to those solutions as verbal literacy was to the American Civil Rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s.

Anne Whiston Spirn is an award-winning author, photographer, and professor of landscape architecture and planning at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. 

Supported by a gift from Michael Dyett (AB ’68, MRP ’72) and Heidi Richardson.

Watch this lecture on the Videos page.


Here On Earth: A Natural History of the Planet

Lecture and booksigning by Tim Flannery

Thursday, April 21, 6:00 pm

Tim Flannery, Australian scientist and author, offered a sweeping account of the dual evolutionary history of Earth and the life it supports. Beginning with the birth of stars to the creation of water and the accident of simple life forms, Flannery documented life up through the 2-million-year rise of our human species and pondered our future as a "superorganism" capable of either sustaining or destroying the planet’s ecosystems.

Watch this lecture on the Video page.


Bioluminescent Animals: Flashlight Fish, Fireflies,
and the World of Light-Emitting Organisms

Family program with John “Woody” Hastings

Sunday, April 3, 2:00 pm

Harvard’s Woody Hastings, a pioneer in the study of bioluminescence, explored how and why creatures flash, showed live specimens from his collection of glowing dinoflagellates (a type of plankton), and discussed how scientists are discovering new benefits of bioluminescence for medical research.


There and Back Again: Deep-Sea Exploration to the
Earth's Most Extreme Habitats

Lecture by Peter Girguis

Wednesday, March 9, 6:00 pm

Harvard biologist Peter Girguis, Loeb Associate Professor of the Natural Sciences at Harvard, highlighted some of these amazing deep-sea explorations and discuss current research, including the role of deep-sea microbes in mitigating oil spill disasters.
Photo of barnacles courtesy of Peter Girguis.


Drawing and Observing Nature:
From Cambridge to Africa and Back

Family program and book signing with Clare Walker Leslie

Sunday, march 20, 2:00 pm

Artist, author, and naturalist Clare Walker Leslie talked about her travels to Africa, the Arctic, and other distant lands to draw wildlife in their natural habitats.
Photo by Chris Devers.


The Magnetic North: Notes from the Arctic Circle

Author talk and booksigning by Sara Wheeler

Saturday, March 12, 2:00 pm

Smashing through the Arctic Ocean with the crew of a Russian icebreaker, herding reindeer across the tundra with Lapps, and shadowing the Trans-Alaskan pipeline with truckers—author Sara Wheeler discussed her adventures in the beautiful and brutal Arctic.


Insect Planet: Family Festival

Saturday, march 5, 9:00 am - 5:00 pm

The museum was buzzing with dozens of activities as visitors explored the amazing world of insects and their relatives, spiders, crustaceans, and the many other creatures that comprise nearly 80% of all animals on Earth.


The Evolution of Childhood: The Role of Development in Explaining Human Uniqueness

Lecture by Melvin Konner

Wednesday, February 23, 6:00 pm

 Melvin Konner, Professor of Anthropology and Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Neurology at Emory University, presented a sweeping overview of how relationships, emotion, and mind emerged from the uniquely human nature of children and how we care for them.

Watch this lecture on the Video page.


Valentine’s Day in the Animal Kingdom

Family program with Emily Kay and Alexis Harrison

Sunday, February 13, 2:00 pm

Harvard graduate students Emily Kay and Alexis Harrison explored of some of the unusual and bizarre ways that animals search for and win over companions.


Neandertals and Modern Humans:
The Genetic Evidence for Interbreeding

Lecture by David Reich

Wednesday, February 9, 6:00 pm

Neandertals, our closest evolutionary relative, lived in parts of Europe and western Asia before disappearing 30,000 years ago. The great questions have always been, did they interbreed with our Homo sapiens ancestors and is there evidence of Neandertal genes in present-day humans? David Reich, Associate Professor of Genetics at Harvard, addressed these issues with comparisons of the Neandertal genome to the genomes of present-day humans. Part of the Evolution Matters Lecture Series. Supported by a gift from Drs. Herman and Joan Suit.
Photo by Stephanie Mitchell.


Heads Up! How and Why the Amazing Human
Head Evolved to Be the Way It Is

Lecture by Daniel Lieberman

Thursday, January 27, 6:00 pm

Daniel Lieberman, Professor of Human Evolutionary Biology at Harvard, explored how heads work, evolved, and why the human head is special. His answers have widespread ramifications for how we think about human evolution and the evolution of complex structures in other organisms. Part of the Evolution Matters Lecture Series. Supported by a gift from Drs. Herman and Joan Suit. Photo by Adam Blanchette.

Watch this lecture on the Video page.


From Earthquakes to Volcanoes

Family program with Allison Gale

Sunday, January 23, 2:00 pm

Harvard graduate student Allison Gale demonstrated how earthquakes and volcanoes occur and presented how scientists use new techniques, such as 3-D vision, to understand tectonic movement and forecast earthquakes.


Gorillas to Grizzlies: Conservation in Action from
Africa to the United States

Lecture and booksigning with Amy Vedder and Bill Weber 

Thursday, January 13, 6:00 pm

Conservationists Amy Vedder and Bill Weber have devoted three decades to ensuring the survival of endangered wildlife and wild lands around the world. Vedder and Weber discussed their pioneering work with mountain gorillas in Rwanda, an effort that addresses the interests of both wildlife and humans, and how this model can be applied to conserving North America's charismatic animals and spectacular habitats.


Bizarre Animals 2.0: An Evening of Contemporary Art Interventions

Friday, April 8, ongoing 7:00 - 9:30 pm

A special evening of performance, sound, and video throughout the galleries of the Harvard Museum of Natural History. Artists and performers—including Harvard students, alumni and others—transformed the museum into laboratory, library, exploratorium, and stage. Through thoughtful interventions and captivating experiments, viewers experienced new ways to engage with the museum’s spaces, its collections, and its history. Supported in part by the Peter Ivers Visiting Artist Fund, Office for the Arts at Harvard.