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The Harvard Museum of Natural History presents engaging lectures and programs to excite the public about natural history. Our lectures and programs are open to the public and are held at 26 Oxford Street, Cambridge. Please see Plan Your Visit for directions and parking information. HMNH is one of four museums in a vibrant new partnership, the Harvard Museums of Science & Culture, which also includes the Peabody Museum of Archaeology & Ethnology, the Harvard Semitic Museum, and the Collection of Historical Scientific Instruments. Lectures and programs are open to the public and are held in the Geological Lecture Hall on 24 Oxford Street, unless otherwise noted below. 

Browse the Harvard Museums of Science & Culture Spring 2014 Program Guide!


Curating the Imaginal Fields of Science and Art

Public Lecture

Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev
Edith Kreeger Wolf Distinguished Visiting Professor of Art Theory & Practice, Northwestern University

Wednesday, April 30, 6:00 pm

Curator, author, and researcher Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev served as artistic director of dOCUMENTA (13) from 2008 to 2012. In this lecture, she questions how we define artistic practice and research, using examples of artwork and displays created for dOCUMENTA (13), held in Kassel, Germany, in 2012. She further investigates how exhibits based on the accepted separation between fields of inquiry—between the physical and social sciences and art—may be reimagined for the purpose of a worldly ecology, coevolution, and flourishing. Through this reimagining, we can see new object/patterns—and make clear why matter matters.

Sponsored by the Harvard Art Museums and the Harvard Museums of Science & Culture as part of the Harvard Museums’ Seminar on Innovative Curatorial Practice.

Download the event poster
Free and open to the public
Harvard Northwest Building B-103, 52 Oxford Street
Complimentary event parking in the 52 Oxford Street Garage



Special Event

Sunday, May 4, 11:00 am–2:00 pm

Experience the art, tools, and techniques of navigation used through the ages and across the globe with Harvard students. As part of their final project, select student groups will present their research and experiences staying on path while blindfolded, creating a water clock to measure time, finding north with a sunstone, mapping in many different cultures, and many other navigation related topics. Activities will be spread throughout the museum.

Free with museum admission



Lecture and Book Signing

Stephen Palumbi, Jane and Marshall Steel Jr. Professor of Biology and Director of Hopkins Marine Station, Stanford University

Wednesday, May 7, 7:00 pm

Drawing on his newest book, The Extreme Life of the Sea, marine scientist Stephen Palumbi will explore the spectacular life forms, such as blind zombie worms, ageless jellyfish, and the unicorn-like narwhal, that thrive at the ocean’s most brutal limits. From the icy Arctic to boiling hydrothermal vents and pitch-dark trenches, Palumbi looks at extreme habitats and considers how humans may be driving dramatic changes to the ocean’s ecosystem.

Download the event poster
Free and open to the public
Geological Lecture Hall, 24 Oxford Street
Free event parking in the 52 Oxford Street Garage


Exploring Mozambique's Gorongosa National Park

Special Event

Saturday, May 17, 12:00–6:00 pm

Located in central Mozambique, the Gorongosa National Park is home to an extraordinary diversity of ecosystems and wildlife. Established in 1960, Gorongosa was nearly destroyed during Mozambique’s civil war. Thanks to a public-private partnership created in 2004 by the government of Mozambique and the U.S.-based Carr Foundation, the park is successfully restoring its wildlife populations and also developing economic opportunities for its local community.

In his new book, A Window on Eternity: A Biologist’s Walk through Gorongosa National Park, Harvard Professor Edward O. Wilson examines the near destruction and rebirth of Gorongosa and describes through prose and photographs by Piotr Naskrecki why Gorongosa is one of the most unique places on Earth. Pre-signed copies of A Window on Eternity will be available for purchase in the museum store.

The day’s events will highlight the history and biodiversity of Gorongosa through film, a new exhibition by nature photographer and entomologist Piotr Naskrecki, and a special conversation with Edward O. Wilson, Piotr Naskrecki, and Gregory Carr, President of the Carr Foundation.

All events are free and open to the public


12:00 Noon: Film Screening, Haller Hall

Africa: The Future (UK, 2013, 60 min.)
Narrated by Sir David Attenborough, this episode of BBC's groundbreaking six-part series on the wildlife and landscapes of Africa highlights key conservation projects and local efforts aimed at protecting this continent's most threatened species. The film features the restoration of Mozambique’s Gorongosa National Park. Produced by Kate Broome. Seating is on a first-come, first-served basis.


1:30-3:00 pm: Film Screening, Haller Hall
Africa's Lost Eden (USA, 2010, 50 min.)
Journey with National Geographic to Mozambique’s Gorongosa National Park and learn about the conservation efforts that are protecting the animals and landscapes of this extraordinary site. Directed and produced by James Byrne. Due to the nature of its content and images, this film is not recommended for children.

Introduced by Gregory Carr, President of the Carr Foundation and the Gorongosa Restoration Project. Q&A with Gregory Carr follows the screening.
Seating is on a first-come, first-served basis.

3:30-4:30 pm: Film Screening, Haller Hall
The Guide (USA, 2013, 40 min.)
The Guide is a coming-of-age tale set against the restoration of a war-torn national park in Mozambique. Raised near Gorongosa National Park, young Tonga Torcida dreams of becoming a tour guide. But when he meets famed biologist Edward O. Wilson, his new view of the world around him—and his future—places him at a crossroads. Directed by Jessica Yu.
Seating is on a first-come, first-served basis.

5:00-6:00 pm: Special Presentation, Geological Lecture Hall
Africa’s Greatest Wildlife Restoration Story: The History and Future of Gorongosa National Park
Featured Speakers:
Edward O. Wilson, Author, University Research Professor, Emeritus, Harvard University
Piotr Naskrecki, Photographer, Associate in Entomology, Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology
Gregory C. Carr, President, Carr Foundation and the Gorongosa Restoration Project
Advance registration required

6:00-7:30 pm: Photography Exhibition Viewing and Reception
Lobby exhibition featuring Piotr Naskrecki’s photographs of Gorongosa National Park and reception (co-sponsored by the Harvard University Chapter of Sigma Xi).


A Forest Giant on the Edge

Special Presentation & Book Signing

David R. Foster, Director, Harvard Forest, and Professor, Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University

Aaron Ellison, Senior Research Fellow in Ecology, Harvard Forest, and Adjunct Research Professor, Departments of Biology and Environmental Conservation, University of Massachusetts at Amherst

Tuesday, May 20, 6:00 pm

For millennia, eastern hemlock trees have held irreplaceable cultural value and created unique forest habitat across New England. Today, eastern hemlocks are disappearing from our forests, falling by the tens of thousands as prey to an exotic insect foe. In the new book Hemlock: A Forest Giant on the Edge, eight Harvard Forest researchers reflect on eastern hemlock's irreplaceable value to human culture, ecosystems, and scientific research. Two of the book's authors, Harvard Forest director David R. Foster and ecologist Aaron Ellison, will explain connections between eastern hemlock's modern decline and the larger challenges facing nature and society in an era of habitat fragmentation, native species loss, and global climate change.

Free and open to the public
Geological Lecture Hall, 24 Oxford Street
Free event parking in the 52 Oxford Street Garage