Interior Banner for Harvard Museum of Natural History

Special Nature Storytime

Saturday, December 4, 2:00 pM 
 Sunday, December 5, 11:00 am

A special reading of Skywoman, a traditional Iroquois story, with Harvard undergraduate Annabel Beichman, including hands-on activities and gallery connections. 


Eden on the Charles

Author Talk and booksigning with Michael Rawson 

Saturday, December 11, 2:00 pm

Author Michael Rawson explored how early Bostonians led the nation in urbanization, and how various class and ethnic groups brought rival ideas of nature and competing visions of a “city upon a hill."


Fraser's Penguins: A Journey to the Future in Antarctica

Author Talk and booksigning by Fen Montaigne

Saturday, November 13, 2:00 PM

Journalist Fen Montaigne discussed his travels to one of the most beautiful and remote places on earth, the Antarctic Peninsula, while following the field research team of ecologist and penguin expert, Bill Fraser.
Photo courtesy of Henry Holt & Co.


Spider Silk: Evolution and 400 Million Years of Spinning, Waiting, Snagging, and Mating

Lecture and booksigning with Leslie Brunetta and Catherine L. Craig

Saturday, October 2, 4:00 pm

Science writer Leslie Brunetta and Catherine L. Craig, evolutionary biologist and research associate at Harvard’s Museum of Comparative Zoology, discussed the many different ways spiders use silk and why they can help us understand how evolution really works.
Photo of golden orb web by Leslie Brunetta.


The Life of Rice

Family program with Richard Sobol

Sunday, December 12, 2:00 pm

In his new photographic book, author and photographer Richard Sobol takes a journey to Thailand where rice sustains a nation and is celebrated with colorful festivals of song and dance. 
Image from THE LIFE OF RICE: FROM SEEDLING TO SUPPER Richard Sobol. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA.


Robots from Nature: How Bugs Inspire Technology

Family program with Ben Finio and Rebecca Kramer

Sunday, November 14, 2:00 pm

Graduate students Ben Finio and Rebecca Kramer displayed these amazing micro-robots, and discussed how and why the Harvard Microrobotics Lab is hard-at-work building these tiny wonders.
Image of robotic fly on fingertip courtesy of the Harvard Microrobotics Lab.


Thoreau as Climatologist: Tracking 160 Years
of Climate Change

Lecture by Charles Davis

Thursday, November 18, 6:00 pm

Over 160 years ago, Henry David Thoreau initiated a study of flowering times at Walden Pond. A research team, including Charles Davis (Harvard) and Richard Primack (Boston University), has updated Thoreau’s records with current data and analyzed them with the tools of modern evolutionary biology. Davis, Assistant Professor of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology and Curator in the Harvard Herbarium, explored how an approach that integrates observational and genomic data may be successful in mitigating the impacts of climate change on biodiversity.
Image of Charles Davis courtesy of Harvard University News Office.


Darwin's "Abominable Mystery" and the Search
for the First Flowering Plants

Lecture by William (Ned) Friedman 

Thursday, November 4, 6:00 pm

William (Ned) Friedman, newly appointed Director of the Arnold Arboretum and Professor in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Harvard, explorated the evolutionary origin of flowering plants, and how recent advances in the fossil record have shed new light on what they may have looked like, where they "lived," and how they reproduced. Photo by Justin Ide.


RE:Design: A Dramatization of the Correspondence
of Charles Darwin and Asa Gray

A one-act play performed by the Menagerie Theatre Company and a panel discussion with Paul Bourne, Janet Browne, and Donald Pfister

Thursday, October 21, 6:00 pm

RE: Design is a fascinating dramatization of the 30 years of correspondence between Charles Darwin in England and Asa Gray in Boston, produced by the English theatre group, Menagerie, and commissioned by the Darwin Correspondence Project at the University of Cambridge.

The one-act play was followed by a panel discussion with RE:Design director Paul Bourne, Janet Browne, the Aramont Professor of the History of Science at Harvard, and Donald Pfister, Asa Gray Professor of Botany and Director of the Harvard Herbaria. Commissioned by the Darwin Project, Cambridge, UK. Written by Craig Baxter and directed by Paul Bourne, Menagerie Theatre Company, Cambridge, UK.
Portrait of Asa Gray courtesy of archives of Gray Herbarium.


Honeybee Democracy

Lecture and booksigning with Thomas Seeley 

Tuesday, October 12, 6:00 pm

Thomas Seeley, world-renowned animal behaviorist and Professor of Biology at Cornell, explored what honeybees can teach us about collective wisdom and democracy.
Photo courtesy of Thomas Seeley.


From Trilobites to Extraterrestrials: Exploring Life on Earth and Beyond

Family program with Phoebe Cohen
Celebrating Earth Science Week

Sunday, October 17, 2:00 pm

Millions of years ago, long before the dinosaurs, many strange organisms inhabited the Earth and sea; yet fossils are all that remain. Paleontologist Phoebe Cohen, (Harvard Ph.D.,’10) and Education and Outreach Coordinator at the MIT NASA Astrobiology Node, explored the questions paleontologists and astrobiologists face every day. 


Persuasion in a Climate of Uncertainty

Panel discussion with Sheila Jasanoff, James J. McCarthy,
and Bruce Gellerman
Moderated by Allan Brandt  

Wednesday, September 29, 6:00 pm

How can we foster productive discussion and resolution of critical issues when scientific knowledge is not complete? How much evidence is “enough” to support policy? What are the roles of scientists and the press in addressing these questions?

Panel discussion with: Sheila Jasanoff, Pforzheimer Professor of Science and Technology Studies at the Harvard Kennedy School; James J. McCarthy, Alexander Agassiz Professor of Biological Oceanography at Harvard University and past president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science; and Bruce Gellerman, award-winning reporter and producer, Public Radio’s Living on Earth. Moderated by Allan Brandt, Kass Professor of the History of Medicine at Harvard Medical School.

Watch this lecture on the Video page.


Bugged: The Race to Eradicate the Asian Longhorned Beetle

Documentary screening

Thursday, August 19, 5:15-5:40 PM

The Cambridge premiere screening of a documentary by Emily Driscoll that follows scientists, government officials, and private citizens working to eradicate the Asian longhorned beetle, among the world’s most invasive species in all reports. 


Our Cosmic Origins

Gallery talk by Ramananda Chakrabarti

Thursday, August 19, 7:00 PM

The HMNH’s meteorite gallery showcases a wide variety of meteorites, some of which host the earliest known objects of the Solar System. Dr. Ramananda Chakrabarti, a research associate in the department of Earth & Planetary Sciences at Harvard, talked about meteorites and how these "rocks from the sky" provide clues to our cosmic origins.


The Language of Color:
Stripes, Spots, and Pigments in the Animal World

Gallery tour with Hillery Metz

Thursday, August 19, 6:00 PM

In this tour of the Language of Color exhibition, Harvard graduate student Hillery Metz discussed the fascinating ways animals develop their stripes, spots, and color patterns to adapt and thrive in the wild.
Photo by Adam Blanchette.


Natural Selection at Work: Color and Patterns in the Wild

Gallery tour with Vera Domingues

Thursday, July 15, 7:00 PM

In this tour of the Language of Color exhibition, Dr. Vera Domingues, a researcher in Harvard’s Department of Mammalogy, discussed how animals use color for camouflage, mimicry, mating, and communication. 


Rock of Ages: The Evolution of Minerals through Earth History

Gallery talk with Peter Hedman

Thursday, July 15, 6:00 PM

Peter Hedman, 2010 graduate of Harvard College with a concentration in the Earth & Planetary Sciences, discussed how the Earth's changing environments have each influenced the formation of more than 4,300 mineral species today from only a dozen initial minerals. 


Treasures of the Mineral Gallery

Exhibition tour and discussion with Allison Gale

Thursday, June 17, 6:30 PM

Allison Gale, a graduate student in Harvard’s Earth & Planetary Sciences, led a tour through the historic Mineralogical gallery, and discussed how these specimens were collected, and what makes them so scientifically valuable.  


Birdology: From Hens to Hummingbirds—And One
Big Living Dinosaur

Lecture and booksigning with Sy Montgomery

Thursday, June 17, 7:30 PM

Award-winning wildlife author Sy Montgomery explored questions such as: Do hawks show emotion, like anger, sympathy and frustration? Are birds actually living dinosaurs? Is there a secret emotional life to birds that we are only beginning to discover?
Photo by Selinda Chiquoine.


Desert, Mountain, Rainforest: Science Around
the Globe with Harvard Students

Family Program with Tim Treuer (Class of '10),
Peter Hedman ('10), and Renata Cummins ('11)

Sunday, April 25, 2:00 PM

Three Harvard students presented on their recent spring break travels. Tim Treuer (Class of ’10) studied insect biodiversity in the tropics of Indonesia; Peter Hedman (’10) talked about his trip studying and collecting rocks in Nevada’s Mojave desert; and Renata Cummins (’11) described the Harvard expedition to Italy in search of the famous geological site where scientists discovered evidence of the event that may have wiped out the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. 


Life and Colony Size Among the Ants

Lecture and booksigning by Mark Moffett

Tuesday, May 11, 7:00 PM

Entomologist, photographer, and intrepid world-traveler Mark Moffett explored the parallel between ant colonies and human societies. Cosponsored with the Cambridge Entomological Club.
Photo of Mark Moffett by Jack Longino.


Bizarre Animals: An Evening of Contemporary Art Interventions

Organized by Carlin Wing, (Harvard '02) Artist-in-residence

Friday, March 26, ongoing from 7:00 to 9:30 PM

Artists from across the country—including many Harvard alumni and several current students—transformed the museum into laboratory, library, exploratorium, and stage.

Supported in part by Office for the Arts at Harvard through the Peter Ivers Visiting Artist Fund, the Department of Visual, and Environmental Studies and the Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts.For more event details see the press release.


Still Life: Adventures in Taxidermy

Author talk and gallery social with Melissa Milgrom

Thursday, March 18, 6:00 PM

The Harvard Museum of Natural History is home to some of the country’s oldest and most varied collections of taxidermy animals. In this gallery social and author talk, Melissa Milgrom delved into the colorful world of eccentric naturalists and gifted museum artisans who create the illusion of life through taxidermy.


Zombie Insects and Disgusted Humans: How Parasites Affect Behavior

Lecture by David Hughes

Sunday, March 21, 2:00 PM

Dr. David Hughes, a researcher in Harvard’s Museum of Comparative Zoology, discussed how various parasites hijack the brains of insects and turn them into "zombies." 


New Directions in EcoPlanning Annual Lecture
Defining an Environmental Vocabulary

Lecture by Jane Wolff

Wednesday, April 28, 6:00 PM

Jane Wolff (AB '85, GSD, ’92), director of the landscape architecture program at the University of Toronto, discussed her work in places like San Francisco Bay, the California Delta, and New Orleans, where ongoing interactions between nature and cultural intervention have produced complicated ecological circumstances. Supported by a gift from Michael Dyett (AB ’68, MRP ’72) and Heidi Richardson.  

Watch this lecture on the Video page.


Wild Urban Plants of the Northeast

Author talk and booksigning with Peter Del Tredici

Sunday, April 11, 2:00 PM

Our cities and towns may seem harsh and unwelcoming to vegetation, but in the field guide, Wild Urban Plants of the Northeast by Peter Del Tredici, Senior Research Scientist at Harvard's Arnold Arboretum, details the array of plants that grow spontaneously in sidewalk cracks, flourish along chain-link fences, and line the banks of streams and rivers. Cosponsored with the Arnold Arboretum, Harvard University.
Photo by Susan Klaw. 


The Evolutionary and Genetic Basis of Human Reproduction

Lecture by David Page

Thursday, April 15, 6:00 PM

Dr. David Page, Director of the Whitehead Institute and Professor of Biology at MIT, discussed how his laboratory is seeking to unravel the genetic mechanisms responsible for a range of sexual disorders, from failed sperm production to sex reversal to Turner Syndrome. Supported by a gift from Drs. Herman and Joan Suit.
Photo by Kelly Lorenz/Whitehead

Watch this lecture on the Video page.


Evolution of Brain Aging and Cognitive Decline

Lecture by Bruce Yankner

Thursday, March 25, 6:00 PM

Dr. Bruce Yankner, Professor of Neurology at Harvard Medical School, discussed how evolutionary studies are unexpectedly revealing new insights into age-related cognitive decline, suggesting that it may have appeared recently in the primate lineage. Supported by a gift from Drs. Herman and Joan Suit.


The Plausibility of Life: Resolving Darwin's Dilemma

Lecture by Marc Kirschner

Thursday, March 11, 7:00 PM

Dr. Marc Kirschner, Professor of Systems Biology at Harvard Medical School, discussed his evolutionary theory of how rare and random mutation in organisms can lead to exquisite changes of form and function. Supported by a gift from Drs. Herman and Joan Suit.

Watch this lecture on the Video page.


Earth Rocks!: A Family Festival

Saturday, March 6, 9:00 am - 5:00 PM

From rocks, minerals, and fossils to earthquakes, volcanoes, and meteorites, explore the dynamic history of planet Earth in a day-long family festival with hands-on activities and displays focused on geology and related sciences.

Photo by Tony Rinaldo. 



Hear the Wild Things: The Science of Animal Communication

Family program with Zarin Machanda

Sunday, February 21, 2:00 pm

Screeching bats, singing apes, and whistling birds—the jungle is home to a chorus of animal sounds. Zarin Machanda, a researcher in Human Evolutionary Biology at Harvard, decoded the exotic languages of animals and played field recordings from remote jungles around the world.


From Cooking Food to Cooking the Planet:
Growing Constraints to Food Production

Program with Samuel Myers

Tuesday, February 23, 6:00 PM

Dr. Samuel Myers, Instructor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and a practicing physician, discussed troubling trends, including climate change and increased threats from pests and pathogens that may constrain the world's resources, requiring new approaches to sustainable agriculture. The program will include a discussion moderated by Noel Michele Holbrook, Professor of Biology and Charles Bullard Professor of Forestry at Harvard.
Photo copyright HUCE.


Where Our Food Comes From: The Origins of Agriculture

Program with Bruce Smith

Thursday, February 18, 6:00 PM

The transition from hunting and gathering to food production was a seismic shift in human history. Dr. Bruce Smith, Curator of North American Archaeology at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, discussed his current research on agricultural origins.


Domesticated: Modern Dioramas of Our New Natural History

Gallery talk by Amy Stein

Friday, JANUARY 22, 4:00 PM

New York photographer Amy Stein discussed her unique process of creating and photographing modern dioramas inspired by true encounters between humans and wildlife in rural Pennsylvania.
Photo by Amy Stein.


Coyote at the Kitchen Door

A conversation with Stephen DeStefano and Amy Stein

Saturday, JANUARY 23, 2:00 PM

Wildlife biologist and author Stephen DeStefano and photographer Amy Stein discussed how they approach the intersection of human life and wildlife in their work. 
Watch this lecture on WGBH Forum Network.


A Bite Through Time

Family program with Tanya Smith

Sunday, January 17, 2:00 pm

Tanya Smith, Assistant Professor of Human Evolutionary Biology at Harvard, who studies the teeth of humans, Neanderthals, fossil apes, and other primates, explored what teeth can tell us about human origins and growth.


Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human

Booksigning/Program with Richard Wrangham


In his book, Catching Fire, Richard Wrangham, Professor of Biological
Anthropology at Harvard, puts forth the bold theory that our Paleolithic Homo ancestors tamed fire and began cooking 1.8 million years ago, much earlier than conventionally believed. Wrangham discussed how cooking started a revolution in human evolution, which drove large-scale changes in our physiology, behavior, and cognition and has defined our species to this very day. Photo by Jim Harrison.