On January 25, 1812, six gentlemen gathered on the second floor of an apothecary shop on the northeast corner of Market and Second streets in Philadelphia. The group, which included two doctors, a dentist, an apothecary, a manufacturing chemist, and a distiller, was committed to creating a society for the cultivation of the natural sciences.
On March 21, the group discussed and agreed upon a constitutional act which established the Academy of Natural Sciences. The men decided that their friend Thomas Say, a gifted naturalist, should be recognized as one of the society’s founders. Say’s work was critical to the success and growth of the Academy during its first years.
Today, on the 204th anniversary of this constitutional act, the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University is a leading natural history museum dedicated to advancing research, education, and public engagement in biodiversity and environmental science. Visitors to the Academy have the opportunity to get face-to-face with towering dinosaurs, meet live animals, and explore a tropical garden filled with live butterflies. Philadelphia’s natural history museum offers surprises for all ages, from changing interactive science exhibits to a children’s discovery center, a fossil dig, and opportunities to interact with real science experts.
The Academy’s working scientists spend their days focusing on critical global issues in biodiversity, evolution, and environmental science. In the field, Academy scientists have traveled as far as Vietnam to sample wild bird populations for emerging diseases such as avian influenza, and closer to home they have been studying water quality in the Delaware River Watershed. These research efforts and many others enable the Academy to provide accurate, real-time scientific information to the public on environmental and sustainability matters.