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Harvard Museum of Natural History Completes Renovations to Africa Gallery

The Harvard Museum of Natural History announces the completion in late December of the renovated permanent Africa gallery. This historic gallery has been renovated and reinterpreted, with new energy-efficient lighting and colorful graphic displays. The installation of a new interactive video display addressing endangered species completes the upgrade. 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. 

The specimens have been rearranged according to geographic habitat, allowing visitors to explore from the Wetlands, home of the pygmy hippopotamus, to the leopard’s Tropical forest, to the blesbok’s Savanna habitat, and to the Arid Lands of the gemsbok. With 188 specimens ranging in size from the elephant and the enormous common eland, a six foot tall antelope weighing as much as 1.1 tons, to the tiny pygmy kingfisher, the gallery presents a unique view of the vastly diverse wildlife of the African continent. 

The renovations to the museum’s Africa gallery were made possible in part by gifts from Harvard alumni, including the late David B. Stone, Harvard 1950, who served for 32 years on the governing board of the Harvard’s Museum of Comparative Zoology until his death this year, and from Abby and David Gray (Harvard AB ’75 and MBA 1980). The video interactive has benefited from collaboration and support from the Encyclopedia of Life. In addition the museum receives generous support from the Museum of Comparative Zoology.

“We are exceedingly grateful for the gifts from alumni which enhance our ability to share Harvard’s resources with a wide audience”, said Elisabeth Werby, Executive Director of the Harvard Museum of Natural History. 

In conjunction with the completion of the renovated Africa gallery, the Harvard Museum of Natural History will offer a free, public lecture on conservation and the mountain gorillas of Rwanda. Gorillas to Grizzlies: Conservation in Action from Africa to the United States will be held on Thursday, January 13 at 6:00 pm. The lecture and book-signing will be presented by Amy Vedder and Bill Weber, conservationists who have devoted three decades to ensuring the survival of endangered wildlife and wild lands around the world. Vedder and Weber will discuss their pioneering work with mountain gorillas in Rwanda, an effort combining wildlife and human interests, and how this model can be applied to conserving North America's charismatic animals and spectacular habitats.

To extend your exploration of African wildlife, be sure to see Headgear: The Natural History of Horns & Antlers, in the adjacent gallery, which has now been extended through August 2011. View the impressive horns and antlers of African species including the African buffalo, giant sable, blue wildebeest, and springbok antelope. Discover how and why horns and antlers evolved and learn about their cultural significance through dramatic displays and video presentations. (See full release.) Or find the 15 foot giraffe in the Great Mammal Hall, renovated in 2009 to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the founding the Museum of Comparative Zoology.


The Harvard Museum of Natural History is located at 26 Oxford Street, Cambridge, a 7 minute walk from the Harvard Square T station. The Museum is handicapped accessible. For general information, please visit Plan your visit, or call 617.495.3045.

 About the Harvard Museum of Natural History

With a mission to enhance public understanding and appreciation of the natural world and the human place in it, the Harvard Museum of Natural History draws on the University’s collections and research to present a historic and interdisciplinary exploration of science and nature. More than 180,000 visitors annually make it the University’s most-visited museum.

The press release is available for download in pdf format.