Thursday, January 4, 2018

More Than Dinosaurs


I love going to museums, and I love taking my grandchildren, nieces and nephews to museums, too. In a society hooked on Social Media and the latest Xbox games, museums might appear to be a tame place to visit, but I am here to dispute that fallacy right now. Can a museum entertain better than a video game? Find out after the jump.
The Academy
Everything now-a-days can be researched on Google, but looking up information pales against experience. I love going to museums. I love museums so much that I worked in one until my retirement. The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University is so much more than a museum. This little gem on the corner of 19th and the Parkway is a virtual time machine into the past and the future. It is a reflection of America’s relationship to the natural world. The museum allows its visitors of all ages to consider how we are connected to nature, and to our fellow creatures who share this world with us. We are genetically, physically and spiritually part of nature.
Even though I worked many years at the Academy, and even though I know every part of the building, I am always excited to spend a day there, visiting old friends and enjoying new exhibits. It’s never boring. There is always something new to learn. There are three parts to the museum: the part that visitors see; the 18 million specimens in collection; the research departments. In 1948, the Academy established the Environmental Research Division. You can check out the research being done, here.
The Trip
I’ve been promising my two little buddies a trip back to the museum for the Christmas holidays. I think I have two budding scientists on my hand. Our first stop was to North American Hall because Dylan loves bears and that hall features the black bear, grizzly, and polar bears. Isa was interested in the Sonoran Desert diorama. At the end of the hallway tables were set us for volunteers and staff to display the skulls and fur of some of the animals featured in the hall.
Our next stop was to Outside-In, where Dylan and Isa got to pet a turtle and dig for shark teeth. They would have spent the entire day in Outside-In except that it was time for lunch. Even though we had packed a lunch, the Academy has a wonderful café with a nice selection of affordable foods.
After lunch, we headed over to the butterfly exhibit where the three of us could pretend we were in a tropical paradise instead of a cold, windy city. Dylan and Isa tried their best to get a butterfly to land on them, but instead settled down to watch a butterfly eat.

Even though they could not touch the butterflies, they were just as happy to pretend they were butterflies with the costumes hanging near the entrance to the exhibit. Our next stop was to the Changing Exhibit Hall, where I had worked as the manager until retiring. The newest exhibit, Tiny Titans, allows visitors to learn about authentic dinosaur eggs and nests collected from around the world. It is an interactive exhibit where Dylan and Isa had a chance to pretend they were dinosaurs sitting on their own nests.  
Before heading over to Dinosaur Hall, we made a stop to the second floor to visit the African and Asian Hall dioramas. Dylan loved the lions, and Isa the gorilla, but both children enjoyed making a hand puppet and a dinosaur fossil; thanks to the Academy staff.

At each diorama that we visited, I had the children search for clues that revealed how a particular animal survived in its natural habitat. Like I mentioned at the beginning, I have two budding scientists on my hand.
The huge T-Rex was there to welcome us as we entered Dinosaur Hall. Dylan and Isa both enjoyed the dig, and would have stayed there for the remainder of the day, but their parents were on their way to pick us up. Dylan and Isa did have time to enter into a fun interactive video where they could pretend to travel back into time. Luckily, the dinosaurs had already eaten.
So, to answer the question, “Can a museum entertain better than a video game?” I would have to say that any trip that involves a museum, is one of the most memorable and exciting gift that you can give to a child. Do yourself and your family a favor and buy a membership to the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University. In fact, you should get a membership to all the wonderful museums in Philadelphia. A museum membership is a gift that keeps on giving.


  1. Museums are the best, Marie! We enjoy visiting them and always learn something new. You are sooo lucky to have worked in one! And your grandchildren are the luckiest grandchildren, for no one can make a trip more exciting than you do.

    Thanks for sharing this adventure with your followers, Marie. I love the photos. Your granddaughters are beautiful.