Fall Events, Exhibits

By Carolyn Belardo

Dinosaurs, rugged crocodiles, seashells from the seashore, and a special exhibit marking the pope’s visit to Philadelphia are coming up this fall at the Academy.

Adults get to leave the kids at home and enjoy a sleepover in the museum, and the Academy’s annual fundraiser, Cuisine from the Collections, is back to tempt palates with foods based on the museum’s research collections.

A fully mounted Hadrosaurus foulkii is the centerpiece of Drawn to Dinosaurs, opening Nov. 1, and three days in late November are dedicated to hands-on dinosaur activities and presentations. Reptiles: The Beautiful and the Deadly, opening Sept. 30, offers an eyeball-to-eyeball experience with some of nature’s most bizarre and captivating creatures.

For The Clergy and the Academy’s Collections, through Oct. 23, the museum reaches back to its earliest years of working closely with clergy naturalists of all faiths.

And there’s more. For more details on the following programs and to purchase tickets online, visit ansp.org.

Clearly Beautiful: Photographs by Adam Summers
Through–October 4
Art of Science Gallery

The large, revealing images of Clearly Beautiful: Photographs by Adam Summers depict the striking results of a common method of studying animal anatomy called clearing and staining. To achieve the beautifully detailed inner skeletal tissues of fish, the photographer, University of Washington biology professor Adam Summers, soaked the specimens in different dyes and enzymes, rendering the soft tissues transparent and the harder tissues deep blue and crimson. Each step of the process is described and illustrated through more photographs and fish specimens from the Academy’s collection.

The Clergy and the Academy's Collections Photo by Greg Cowper/ANS
The Clergy and the Academy’s Collections
Photo by Greg Cowper/ANS

The Clergy and the Academy’s Collections
Academy Library Gallery
Mondays through Fridays,Through October 23, 1-4 p.m.
September 21–24, during the week of the World Meeting of Families, the Library will be open 10 a.m.–4 p.m. and until 9 p.m. September 22 and 23

The Academy, the nation’s oldest natural history museum, is deeply rooted in religious activity, dedication and belief. From its founding in 1812, the Academy has been enriched by the work of members of the clergy active in the Catholic, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Quaker, Jewish and Moravian communities. Just as St. Francis of Assisi is known as the patron saint of animals and ecology, the Academy advances these same principles through research, education and public engagement in biodiversity and environmental sciences. This special exhibit showcases the plant and animal specimens, objects, books and archival materials that are the fruit of these “clergy naturalists” so closely intertwined with the Academy’s history.

Climate Change: A New Dialogue
Monday, September 21, 6:30 p.m.

In response to Pope Francis’ call for a “new dialogue about how we are shaping the future of our planet,” the Academy will hold a special public forum of environmental advocates, scientists and community members for a critical conversation about climate change and the future. The panel of prominent thought leaders features keynote speaker and leading economist Jeffrey D. Sachs, director of The Earth Institute at Columbia University, who has worked with the Vatican on issues of climate change and sustainable development in advance of the encyclical. Participants will discuss how science, environmental justice, urban planning and policy can provide solutions to help society, especially the most vulnerable, adapt to climate change. Since its founding in 1812, the Academy has explored the remarkable diversity of the natural world, and today its scientists focus on critical global issues in biodiversity, evolution and environmental science. Following the forum, Sachs will sign copies of his latest book, The Age of Sustainable Development. “Climate Change: A New Dialogue” is free and registration is required. For more information and to join the waiting list, click here.

Reptiles: The Beautiful and the Deadly
September 30–January 10

Get eyeball to eyeball with live deadly snakes, colorful lizards, bizarre turtles and rugged crocodilians from around the world. Nestled in naturalistic habitats, these cold-blooded animals will help dispel common myths and foster a basic understanding of how reptiles fit into the animal kingdom and their native environments. Engaging, interactive components let visitors “milk” a viper, learn to speak croc in less than five minutes, and test their knowledge with Turtle Trivia and Lizard Wizard.

Reptiles: The Beautiful and the Deadly Opening Weekend
Saturday and Sunday, October 3 and 4, All Day

Cozy up to some cold-blooded critters during opening weekend for the new exhibit Reptiles: The Beautiful and the Deadly. Enjoy live animal shows, learn about reptile conservation, engage in hands-on activities, and make a craft to take home.


Overnight for Adults
Saturday, October 3, 6:30 p.m.–9 a.m. Sunday, October 4

Pack a sleeping bag, put on your pj’s, and leave the kids at home—this overnight is for adults only! Bigfoot, Chupacabra and the Jersey Devil take center stage in this creepy overnight. Collect clues and use your Scooby-Doo skills to solve a mystery. Navigate the underbelly of the Academy on behind-the-scenes tours, and see some of the real skeletons in the collection. Stay up late, meet live animals, and then curl up under T. rex. Dinner and breakfast included. For ages 21 and older. For more information and to register, visit http://bit.ly/1JoBRvC.

Philadelphia Shell Show and Festival
Saturday and Sunday, October 17 and 18, All day

Celebrate marine animals of all kinds at the Philadelphia Shell Show and Festival. Examine your favorite mollusk up close, enjoy fun family-friendly activities, and meet the Academy scientists who care for the museum’s Malacology Collection of 10 million specimens. Shell displays, judged and awarded prizes by the Philadelphia Shell Club, will be on view, and hundreds more will be for sale in the international shell market.

Drawn to Dinosaurs
November 1–TBD
Art of Science Gallery

Drawn to Dinosaurs delves into the science and art of visualizing a living animal based on fragmentary fossils. This intimate exhibit illustrates what scientists can deduce from the fossil record when creating a reconstruction of a skeleton or model and what they must look to artists to interpret. The centerpiece is a full cast of the plant-eating dinosaur Hadrosaurus foulkii, discovered in 1858 in Haddonfield, N.J. The Academy created a full cast of this duckbilled dinosaur and put it on display in 1868, becoming the first place in the world where the public could go to see a dinosaur. 

Cuisine from the Collections: Cocktail Edition
Saturday, November 7, 7–10 p.m.

Cuisine from the Collections: Cocktail Edition features cocktails and gourmet food pairings inspired by the Academy’s collection of 18 million plant and animal specimens. All proceeds benefit the Academy. Individual tickets start at $175 and Patron tickets are $300 and include a VIP tasting beginning at 6 p.m. Sponsorship opportunities available. For more information, call 215-299-3790, email cuisine@ansp.org or visit ansp.org/cuisine.

Scouting For Science: Reptile and Amphibian Day
Saturday, November 14

Boy scouts and girl scouts are invited to participate in fun-filled activities involving reptiles and amphibians in order to work toward their badge and journey requirements. Scouts will get to touch specimens, meet live reptiles, learn about venomous snakes in the region, investigate how snakes see, and more. Fees, including all museum exhibits and participation patch: $17.95 for scouts, $15.95 for adults. For more information and to register, call 215-299-1060.

Celebrate dinosaurs of all kinds at Dinosaur Days!
Celebrate dinosaurs of all kinds at Dinosaur Days!


Dinosaur Days
Friday, Saturday and Sunday, November 27, 28 and 29, All day

Celebrate dinosaurs and their closest living relatives—birds—with a holiday weekend of family fun. Explore the world of the dinosaurs as you examine real fossils up close, meet live birds, and talk with dinosaur experts. Fun games and crafts are guaranteed to enlighten even the wisest (and youngest) dinosaur experts in the family.


All-Star Days
Saturday through Wednesday, December 26–30, All day

Celebrate what makes the Academy so popular! All-Star Days are filled with engaging live animal shows, fascinating fossils, hands-on science, and special specimen displays from the museum’s famous collection of 18 million plants and animals. The All-Star Days themes are:

December 26: Dino Day
See real dinosaur fossils up close, meet living relatives of these ancient beasts, and explore the world of the dinosaurs.

December 27: Bug Day
Learn what makes a bug’s life so special through up-close encounters with beetles, cockroaches, butterflies and tarantulas.

December 28: Reptiles: The Beautiful and the Deadly Day
Bring your love of all things scaly as the Academy celebrates the last weeks of Reptiles: The Beautiful and the Deadly with a day devoted to reptiles.

December 29: Fur, Feathers and Scales Day
The Academy’s live animals take center stage on a day all about amazing animals. See firsthand how naturalists care for the live animals and learn about the stars of the museum’s famous dioramas.

December 30: Weird Things in Jars Day
Science is surprising, inspiring and weird! Get an up-close look at the weirder specimens in the museum’s collections.


To purchase admission tickets in advance at a discount, click here.

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