Refreshed Outside In Reopens

Outside In, the beloved nature discovery center, reopens this month with new ways for visitors to investigate nature and wildlife and to engage with scientists for impromptu “eureka” moments. 

Closed since March 2020 because of COVID-19, a refreshed Outside In reopens to members Thursday, July 22, and to non-members Wednesday, July 28. Special Members hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. July 22-25.  After that, Outside In will be open to everyone 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. The Academy is open Wednesdays through Sundays. 

Feeding time with Animal Programs Developer Karen Verderame

When the doors swing open, the new adventure begins!  

“We made the space more friendly and safe, with the ease and health of visitors in mind,” said Karen Verderame, live animal programs developer. “All the best things our guests love will still be there. Plus, there will be more live animals to learn about, a new working beehive, new animal skulls, an updated microscope station, and new books that explore nature.” 

One of the biggest attractions is a large space for the tortoise, armadillos and other animals to romp and play while visitors observe. The friendly staff will explain how enrichment and exercise benefit the animals and how behavioral training sessions prepare them for their role as ambassadors of the wild. 

And then there are the “eureka” moments. 

Karen and Reptile Keeper Steve Flath set up a naturalistic setting for a beautifully patterned snake.

Verderame put the call out to Academy researchers, educators, archivists, librarians, Drexel co-ops — to all staff— inviting them to pop in Outside In at any time to share what she calls their eureka moment with visitors. Could be a squirmy insect fresh from Wissahickon Creek, a century-old snail shell from the collections, a stunning book illustration by a 19th century woman explorer. 

“We want people of all ages to experience eureka moments, just as our younger guests have for so many years here,” Verderame said. “We want to help visitors investigate the nature and wildlife in their communities, the role and responsibility animals provide in our habitats, and discover how nature and wildlife connect on a worldwide level.” 

Fasten your seat belt. 

By Carolyn Belardo. Images by Bruce Tepper

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