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Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University

Coordinates: 39°57′25″N 75°10′17″W / 39.9570°N 75.1714°W / 39.9570; -75.1714
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Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University
Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University is located in Philadelphia
Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University
Location within Philadelphia
Location1900 Benjamin Franklin Parkway
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
Coordinates39°57′25″N 75°10′17″W / 39.9570°N 75.1714°W / 39.9570; -75.1714
TypeNatural history museum
Collection size17+ million specimens
PresidentScott Cooper, PhD
Public transit accessBus transport SEPTA bus: 32, 33, Suburban Station
Official nameAcademy of Natural Sciences
DesignatedMay 15, 2013
Location302 Market St., Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Marker TextFounded nearby in 1812, it is the oldest natural science institution in the Americas. It remains an invaluable resource for the study of life on Earth, with outstanding exhibits and scientific collections. Relocated to Logan Square in 1876, part of Drexel University since 2011.

The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University, formerly the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, is the oldest natural science research institution and museum in the Americas. It was founded in 1812, by many of the leading naturalists of the young American republic with an expressed mission of "the encouragement and cultivation of the sciences". It has sponsored expeditions, conducted original environmental and systematics research, and amassed natural history collections containing more than 17 million specimens. The Academy also organizes public exhibits and educational programs for both schools and the general public.


The Academy in 1912

During the first decades of the United States, Philadelphia was the cultural capital and one of the country's commercial centers.[1] Two of the city's institutions, the Library Company[2] and the American Philosophical Society,[3] were centers of enlightened thought and scientific inquiry.

The increasing sophistication of the earth and life sciences, combined with a growing awareness of the variety of life and landscape in the American wilderness that has not been discovered, led a small group of naturalists to establish the Academy of Natural Sciences in the winter of 1812.[4] The academy was meant to foster a gathering of fellow naturalists, and nurture the growth and credibility of American science. They frequently looked to their European counterparts for inspiration and expertise and longed to be regarded as equals. On 25 April 1817 they were incorporated into the society under the title of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia by the legislature of Pennsylvania. By 1 January 1818, eight members were published.[5]

In 2011, the Academy became affiliated with nearby Drexel University and changed its name to the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University.[6][7]

Notable members[edit]

Within a decade of its founding, the Academy became the undisputed center of natural sciences in the United States.[citation needed] Academy members were frequently enlisted to participate in national surveys of the western territories and other major expeditions.[5] Several of its earliest members, including William Bartram,[8] John Godman,[9] Richard Harlan,[10] Angelo Heilprin,[11] Charles Alexandre Lesueur,[12] William Maclure,[13] Titian Peale,[14] Charles Pickering, Thomas Say, and Alexander Wilson were among the pioneers or recognized authorities in their respective areas of study.[15] Thomas Jefferson of Virginia, John Edwards Holbrook of South Carolina, Thomas Nuttall and Richard Owen of the United Kingdom, Georges Cuvier of France, and Alexander von Humboldt of Prussia were among the corresponding members (members who lived far from Philadelphia) of the Academy's first decades.[5]

Later during the 19th century, other notable naturalists and scientists,[16] including John James Audubon, Charles S. Boyer, John Cassin, Edward Drinker Cope, Ezra Townsend Cresson, Richard Harlan, Ferdinand V. Hayden, Isaac Lea, William W. Jefferis, John Lawrence LeConte, Joseph Leidy,[17] Samuel George Morton, George Ord, and James Rehn were members. Corresponding members included Charles Darwin along with his supporters Asa Gray,[18] and Thomas Henry Huxley.

For much of its history, new members had to be nominated by two current members and then elected by the remaining members. These requirements were dropped in 1924. Notable 20th-century scientists include James Böhlke, James Bond, Henry Weed Fowler, Ruth Patrick, Henry Pilsbry, H. Radclyffe Roberts, and Witmer Stone.

Collections and research[edit]

Two Deinonychus figures balance on a claw-like form, in active poses as if they are pursuing prey. In the background is a banner advertising the The Academy of Natural Sciences, and the brick structure and windows of the museum itself. It's late in the afternoon on a sunny day in July, and a sunbeam striking the face of one of the sculpted dinosaurs casts dramatic shadows.
A bronze Deinonychus statue located outside the museum

The Academy of Natural Sciences holds an internationally important natural history collection. Currently, there are over 18 million biological specimens, and hundreds of thousands of volumes, journals, illustrations, photographs, and archival items in its library. These collections were obtained through multiple means, including the donation or purchase of existing collections or individual items, the collection activities of Academy-sponsored expeditions, or those of individual scientists, whether or not they work at the Academy. Some collections were originally gathered by other institutions. For example, a number of the natural history collections at the American Philosophical Society were relocated to the Academy by the end of the 19th century.

Traditionally, researchers at natural science (or natural history) institutions such as the Academy engaged in biological taxonomy, the science of discovering, describing, naming, and classifying species. In recent decades, research has shifted in emphasis to the science of systematics, the study of the evolutionary relationships among these species. The Academy preserves many type specimens, the reference material that helps establish a species' identity. They also preserve additional specimens with which scientists can investigate the nature of these species, their relationships with other species, their evolutionary history, or their conservation status.

Museum collections and research programs[edit]

The Academy's collections include a wide range of specimens across the tree of life. The museum also maintains several historically important collections.


Botany is study of plants, including nonvascular bryophytes (mosses, liverworts, and hornworts) and vascular plants, including ferns, conifers and flowering plants. The field of botany has also traditionally included the study of algae, lichens, and fungi which are now classified in different biological kingdoms. Collections at the Academy, which are housed in the Philadelphia Herbarium (PH), the oldest institutional herbarium in the New World,[19] include some of the oldest and most important botanical collections in the Americas.[20] Notable early collectors include Benjamin Smith Barton, Constatine Rafinesque, Thomas Meehan, Thomas Nuttall, and Fredrick Pursh.[20][21]

The herbarium contains approximately 1.5 million specimens of vascular plants, fungi, lichens, algae, and fossil plants, 40,000 of which are types.[19] It also contains some special collections, including the plants collected by Johann and Georg Forster during the voyages of Captain James Cook,[20] and by Meriwether Lewis during the Lewis and Clark expedition (Corps of Discovery).[22] The department's current focus is plant biodiversity and evolution focusing on Apocynaceae (milkweed or dogbane family) and Polygalaceae.[19]


The Academy's Diatom Herbarium, the largest in the Americas and the second largest in the world, contains approximately 220,000 slides of these microscopic algae.[23] The herbarium contains many specimens contributed by notable collectors, a diversity of fossil diatoms, and diatoms collected as part of numerous freshwater environmental surveys in the United States.[24] The Diatom Herbarium also provides collections and taxonomic services for the Phycology Section of the Patrick Center for Environmental Research. Former curators of note include Charles S. Boyer, Ruth Patrick, and Charles Reimer.[25]


Entomology has been important to the Academy since its founding. Two of its earliest members include Thomas Say, regarded as the father of American entomology, and Titian Peale, a leading natural history illustrator and the chief naturalist on the United States Exploring Expedition (1834–1842). The entomology collection currently contains more than 3.5 million specimens and includes the Titian Peale Moth and Butterfly Collection, the oldest entomology collection in the United States. Curator Emeritus, Daniel Otte, an expert on Orthoptera (crickets, grasshoppers, and their relatives) is a pioneer of presenting biological data on the internet through the creation of the Orthoptera Species File. Curator and Entomology Department Chair, Jon Gelhaus is a leading expert on crane flies and manages the Mongolian Aquatic Insect Survey.


Ichthyology has also been a part of Academy collections and research since its beginnings, but the size of the collection was relatively modest until acquisition of Edward Drinker Cope's personal collections in 1898. A few years later, Henry Weed Fowler began his tenure at the Academy, during which he systematized the collections and described 1,408 species. James E. Böhlke, William Saul, and William Smith-Vaniz are among the scientists who followed Fowler. Curator Emeritus, John Lundberg, an expert in catfishes, pioneered deep channel collecting in large tropical rivers and is the lead author of a seminal scientific paper on the biological and geographic history of the Amazon River Basin. The Ichthyology collection, which currently houses nearly 1.2 million specimens and nearly 3,000 types, is one of the most important such collections in the United States. The department also hosts the All Catfish Species Inventory (a comprehensive online resource on catfish) and Catfish Bones (an online digital atlas of catfish morphology), and is a participant in Neodat II (an online resource of Neotropic ichthyology collections).


Two of the early members of the Academy, Thomas Say and Isaac Lea, were malacologists (see also conchologists). R. Tucker Abbott, Samuel Stehman Haldeman, Henry A. Pilsbry, and George W. Tryon, Jr. were other noted malacologists who worked at the Academy. The Academy's malacology collection is the oldest such collection in the United States and is the 3rd largest in the world. It currently contains over 10 million specimens, including types erected by more than 400 authors. Curator Gary Rosenberg, an expert on Jamaican land snails, is a leader in digitised museum collections and research data. Research websites include the Malacology Georeferencing Project an online database of Western Atlantic Marine Mollusca (Malacolog), and the OBIS Indo-Pacific Mollusc database. Research associate and former curator Danielle Graf, an expert on Unionidae (freshwater mussels), maintains the MUSSEL Project web site.


The majority of ornithologists active in the United States during the first half of the 19th century, including Charles Lucien Bonaparte, George Ord, Titian Ramsay Peale, John James Audubon, John Cassin, Thomas Nuttall, and John Kirk Townsend, were active members of the Academy. Later notable Academy ornithologists include James Bond, Frank Gill, Rodolphe Meyer de Schauensee, Pete Myers, Fred Sheldon, and Witmer Stone. With nearly 200,000 specimens representing over 9,000 species, the Ornithology collection is one of the largest and most taxonomically complete bird collections in the world. The Delaware Valley Ornithological Club (DVOC) has held regular meetings at the Academy since 1890.

Vertebrate paleontology[edit]

A 43 ft. (13 m) complete fossil specimen of Mosasaur species Tylosaurus proriger (with a human for scale) is on display.

Vertebrate paleontology in the United States originated in Philadelphia through the efforts of naturalists and scientists associated with the American Philosophical Society (APS) during the first decade of the 19th century and at The Academy of Natural Sciences thereafter. By the end of the 19th century, the holdings from the APS, including the Thomas Jefferson Fossil Collection, had been transferred to the Academy for safekeeping. Currently, the collection contains more than 22,000 specimens, including many types. Richard Harlan was an early member who introduced many American naturalists to the groundbreaking works of Georges Cuvier. Joseph Leidy, who described Hadrosaurus and alerted the scientific world to the paleontological treasures of the American West, is considered the "father" of American vertebrate paleontology. Edward Drinker Cope, who also worked extensively on other vertebrates, is best known for his rivalry with Othniel Charles Marsh during the infamous Bone Wars. Curator Edward B. Daeschler is currently studying the evolution of Devonian tetrapods, but he will be retiring in September 2023. He is a co-discoverer of the transitional "fishapod" Tiktaalik roseae from the Canadian Arctic and the discoverer of two tetrapods, Hynerpeton and Densignathus from the Catskill Formation in Pennsylvania.

Other collections[edit]

The Academy houses several collections of smaller size yet historical and scientific importance. The general invertebrate collection contains about 22,600 specimens, while the invertebrate paleontology collection contains about 105,000 lots. Both contain numerous type specimens. Generally, 21,500 specimens are gaunt, 13,500 are affiliated skins, and 1,700 are wet-preserved specimens.[26] The Frank J. Myers Rotifer Collection is the most comprehensive collection of rotifers on microslides. The herpetology collection contains about 40,000 specimens, including more than 500 type specimens. The mammalogy collection contains about 36,000 specimens and 180 holotypes. Among the naturalists and scientists associated with these collections are Timothy Conrad, Edward Drinker Cope, Richard Harlan, John Edwards Holbrook, William W. Jefferis, Henry Charles Lea, Isaac Lea, Joseph Leidy, Samuel George Morton, and Thomas Say.

Patrick Center for Environmental Research[edit]

Formerly the Limnology Department, the Patrick Center for Environmental Research focuses on applied ecology. Founded in 1947 by Ruth Patrick, formerly of the Diatom Herbarium, it was one of the earliest U.S. environmental consulting concerns. Its attachment to the Academy led it to become the first to employ interdisciplinary teams of scientists to study freshwater systems and the first to regard biodiversity as a central criterion of water quality.

Its 1948 biological survey of the Conestoga River Basin in Pennsylvania, a milestone in environmental research, led to similar surveys and studies throughout much of the United States.[citation needed] Characteristically, these earlier projects were joint projects of the Limnology Department and private industry. Since the rise of the environmental movement in the 1960s and 1970s and the resulting increases in governmental regulation of water pollution, the environmental assessments pioneered at the Academy are increasingly conducted by private environmental consulting firms.

As of 2013, much of the research at the Patrick Center is conducted with regulatory agencies and other governmental bodies, in fields such as diatom autecology,[27] environmental chemistry and toxicology, habitat restoration, long-term environmental trends, species conservation, and watershed management. Some of the work employs most of the center's expertise and capabilities, such as recent studies on the ecological effects of small dams or the ecological benefits of riparian reforestation.

Other studies may involve only one or a couple of the research programs. For example, a current project sampling sediment cores in tidal marshes throughout the Delaware Estuary.[28] This undertaking, possibly the most comprehensive core sampling in any estuary, relies extensively on the center's expertise in biogeochemistry and phycology. Once the sampling is completed, scientist will be able to investigate historical trends in marsh development, carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus cycling, water pollution, salinity variations, and climatic change by analysing the core's sediments, chemistry, and diatom assemblages.[citation needed]


The Biogeochemistry Section of the Patrick Center is concerned with the influence of aquatic organisms on the sources, fate and transport of chemicals in aquatic systems. Studies frequently deal with the carbon and nutrient cycling as well as those of trace elements (e.g., lead, copper, mercury, and zinc) and organic contaminants such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). The section regularly provides water, sediment and tissue analyses for government, intergovernmental agencies, and private companies from around the country. In addition to the sediment core project mentioned above, it has recently studied the effects of small dams on sediment contaminants, photochemical transformation of marsh-derived dissolved organic matter, and sedimentation and eutrophication in salt marshes.

Ecological Modeling[edit]

The Ecological Modeling Section employs sophisticated and rigorous mathematical modelling techniques to address a variety of questions in basic and applied research. Examples include watershed-scale modeling and risk assessment; nonlinear population models structured by age, body size, or space; particle transport in turbulent aquatic systems; and the ecology and control of exotic invasive plants in urban parks.


The Fisheries Section of the Patrick Center conducts research into the ecology, conservation, and management of lotic and estuarine fishes. Studies may range from the analysis of fish tissues for contaminants, monitoring fish populations for environmental assessments, to investigating the life histories of individual species. Recent and ongoing work include, glass eel (the larvae of freshwater or American eels) recruitment in the Delaware River basin, the ecology and genetics of bridal shiner (a fish that's endangered in Pennsylvania), and the impacts of flow management (dam releases) in the Upper Delaware River to native and introduced fish populations.


Benthic macroinvertebrates (primarily aquatic insects, crustaceans, and mollusks) are useful for biological monitoring programs. Their varied life spans, ranging from weeks to years, are long enough to reveal intermittent and continuous pollutants, yet short enough respond to worsening or improving water quality. The Macroinvertebrate Section at the Patrick Center has extensive experience in bioassessment, biomonitoring, and inventorying of freshwater habitats throughout the United States.


Because of their great diversity and specific ecological requirements, algae, particularly diatoms, make excellent indicators of water quality. Moreover, diatoms are readily preserved in sediments, which make them useful organisms for studying paleolimnology (the long-term trends of streams and lakes). The Phycology Section of the Patrick Center provides algal analyses for governmental and other agencies interested in both assessing water quality and long-term environmental trends. One such undertaking is the analyses of diatom assemblages in lake sediments (sediment cores) throughout the eastern United States. This work, part of a large project managed by the EPA, will try to establish reference (pre-anthropogenic) conditions for lakes throughout the country.

In addition to these research efforts, the Phycology Section of the Patrick Center has developed a set of online resources for using algae in environmental research. These include an algal image database, autecology datasets for freshwater algae, algae research with the USGS National Water-Quality Assessment (NAWQA) program, and a diatom paleolimnology database.

Laboratory for Molecular Systematics and Ecology[edit]

For most of its history, biological taxonomy and systematics were conducted using comparative morphology. In recent decades, however, advances in molecular biology and computational technologies have opened new possibilities for studying the diversity and history of life through the use of cladistics and computational phylogenetics. These technologies also offer new opportunities for molecular ecology and conservation genetics.

Academy scientists have been early adapters of molecular biology techniques. Allozymes, DNA-DNA hybridization, immunoelectrophoresis, restriction site analyses of mitochondrial DNA and serology were used extensively since the late 1960s. Recent molecular work mainly employs DNA sequencing, microsatellites, and AFLP (amplified fragment length polymorphism). In 2004, the Laboratory for Molecular Systematics and Ecology (LMSE) was formed as a shared, multi-user facility to improve access to and provide training for the use of molecular data in systematic and ecological research. In addition to supporting staff, the lab offers research opportunities for students and post-doctoral fellowships.


The Academy's work in Mongolia started with the realization of the unique research opportunities available at Lake Hovsgol (Hovsgol Nuur). This large lake and its watershed were remarkably pristine and relatively unknown, especially in comparison to its sister lake in Russia, Lake Baikal. In 1995, a multidisciplinary team of scientists from the Academy, as well as from other American institutions, Mongolia, Russia, and Japan started a multi-year study of the lake's biodiversity, limnology, and watershed.[29]

Although this research was scientifically rewarding, it was apparent that issues concerning environmental protection and sustainable economic development needed addressing.[30] Consequently, work at Hovsgol shifted to ecosystem studies and capacity building.[31] One early undertaking was the enhancement of the operational and physical infrastructure at Hovsgol National Park.[32] Long-term ecological monitoring of several tributary watersheds began in 1997 and soon the site would be adopted into the International Long Term Ecological Research Network.[33]

Recent work at Hovsgol is focusing on the consequences of and sustainable responses to climate change. The region lies in a transitional zone between the semi-arid Eurasian Steppe (grasslands) to the south and the Eurasian Taiga (boreal forest) to the north. As such, it is an ideal mid-continental site at which to monitor the ecological effects of climate change.[34] In addition, changes in livestock herding practices[35] raise concerns about overgrazing and desertification. In response, the team at Hovsgol created and distributed a Herder Handbook[36] and continues to conduct research and work with nomadic herders to develop sustainable practices.[37]

Mongolian Aquatic Insect Survey[edit]

The Mongolian Aquatic Insect Survey[38] is a multi-year biodiversity survey, environmental monitoring and capacity building project managed by Jon Gelhaus of the Academy's Entomology Department. A total of 217 sites from the Selenge River Basin, the most populous and most extensive drainage in Mongolia, were surveyed from 2003 to 2006. Most of these sites are in rivers or streams, but some are in freshwater and saltwater lakes, hot and cold springs, and marsh wetlands. Additional sites from the remote drainage systems in western Mongolia will be sampled in 2008.

The survey has yielded numerous new species and hundreds of geographic records for known aquatic insects, provided an extensive dataset for ongoing environmental monitoring, and has helped develop research and technical infrastructures in Mongolia. This capacity building includes, in collaboration with the Institute of Meteorology and Hydrology, the building of the first research laboratory in Mongolia dedicated to the study of aquatic invertebrates. It also includes training of Mongolian scientists and students.

Center for Environmental Policy[edit]

The Center for Environmental Policy informs and engages various constituents, promotes solutions, and builds public and professional awareness on important environmental topics. Much of its activities focus on public programs and working groups.

The center hosts or participates in a number of public programs that are free and open to the public. Urban Sustainability Forums feature panels of local and national experts discussing environmental and sustainability topics as they relate to the Philadelphia region. Town Square, which may feature a panel or an individual, addresses a variety of topics relating to the environment or public science. The center also hosts candidate forums, conferences and workshops.

The center acts as a logistical hub for a number of Working Groups organized around sustainability issues. Currently active groups include one for condominium and building co-op owners, a network of faith-based environmental groups, and a forum of senior executives in the private sector.

Ewell Sale Stewart Library[edit]

The Library and Archives were established at the Academy's founding meeting in 1812 for the purpose of supporting its natural science research. The library provides online access, services, collections, imaging, and shared resources with other libraries.[citation needed]

The library houses nearly 200,000 volumes ranging from works published in the 16th century to current journals and books. Its holdings also include illustrated works from as early as the 15th century, including Konrad Gessner's Historia animalium, Maria Sibylla Merian's Insects of Surinam, Edward Lear's Psittacidae or Parrots, and a double elephant folio of John James Audubon's The Birds of America.[39]

Scientific publications[edit]

The Journal of the Academy of Natural Sciences was the first peer-reviewed publication in the United States devoted to the natural sciences. The first volume was published in 1817. By 1842, it had been superseded by the Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences. The Proceedings have been published continuously since 1841. The Journal was reborn in 1847 as a larger-format publication that could accommodate longer articles and monographs. The last volume was issued in 1918.[40]

The Academy publishes three other series. The occasional series Notulae Naturae began in 1939 as a means to quickly publish short items, usually not longer than 16 pages on subject areas such as zoology, botany, ecology, geology and paleontology. The Monographs series, which began in 1935, is composed principally of larger systematic reviews of selected taxonomic groups. The Special Publications series, begun in 1922, includes works such as biography, taxonomy, historical reviews, and collections surveys.


VIREO (VIsual REsource for Ornithology) is the most comprehensive collection of bird images in the world. Started in 1979, the collection contains over 180,000 photographs representing over 7,300 species.[41] The collection contains work by some of the world's most talented photographers.[41] VIREO licenses bird images for a wide variety of commercial and non-profit uses.[41]

Exhibits and public programs[edit]

Public exhibits[edit]

T. rex skeleton in exhibit hall.
T. rex on display in Dinosaur Hall.

The Academy first opened its collections to the public in 1828. The popularity of its exhibits soared in 1868 with the debut of the world's first mounted dinosaur skeleton, Hadrosaurus. In fact, the size of the crowds flocking to this display prompted the Academy to relocate to its present-and roomier-location in 1876.

Collections and the public[edit]

As with most museums in the 19th century, there was little separation of the Academy's collections, which were vital to scientific work, and the public spaces. Not only did this subject the collections to extra wear and tear, but visitors were typically confronted with a bewildering assemblage of specimens with little in the way of supplemental information. Over time, however, museums such as the Academy started to showcase their more popular specimens while sequestering the bulk of the collections. In addition, they spent more effort interpreting their public displays. Museums started to play a more active role in educating the public.[42]


One expression of this transformation was the rise of that icon of natural history museums, the diorama. These three-dimensional displays were the virtual reality of their time, providing generations of museum visitors with their only opportunity to experience distant places and exotic wildlife.

In 1929 program coordinator Harold T. Green created The Academy's first diorama, depicting rocky mountain goats. Green's work was at first controversial amongst The Academy's staff, due to both the cost and accusations of sensationalism, but proved popular amongst the public. In 1935, the Works Progress Administration began providing artists to help work on the dioramas, fueling the exhibits' continued expansion.[43]

By presenting the wilderness to the public, dioramas nurtured an appreciation of our natural heritage, which, coincided with the growth of the Conservation Movement in the United States. The Academy currently has 37 dioramas, most of which were installed in the 1930s and 1940s.[44] They feature a variety of animals from Africa, Asia, and North America. Some of these, such as the caribou, lion, and plains zebra are familiar and relatively common, but others, such as the desert bighorn, kiang, Kodiak bear, panda, and passenger pigeon, are threatened, endangered, or extinct.

In 2018, under the management of Drexel University, The Academy renovated some of the older dioramas. These renovations were meant to increase the scientific accuracy of the displays and improve their aesthetics. [45]


A display of casts of the 35 bones of the Hadrosaurus

Another icon of natural history museums is the dinosaur skeleton. The first of these, the Hadrosaurus mount created by noted natural history artist Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins, made its debut at the Academy in 1868. Hadrosaurus mounts also found their way into other public venues, including Princeton University, the Royal Scottish Museum, the Smithsonian, and the 1876 American Centennial Exposition. A special exhibit on the history of Hadrosaurus foulkii ran from November 22, 2008 to April 19, 2009.

A complete Tyrannosaurus rex fossil cast on display with other dinosaur specimens.

A skeletal mount of a related dinosaur, Corythosaurus, served as the centerpiece of the Academy's "Hall of Earth History" during the middle of the 20th century. In 1986, the Academy opened a new exhibit, "Discovering Dinosaurs." This was the first large-scale exhibit to incorporate the findings of the "dinosaur renaissance." Instead of cold-blooded and lumbering reptiles, dinosaurs were conceived as active-and possibly warm-blooded-animals more akin to birds than reptiles.

In 1979, another type of dinosaur was the subject of an exhibition at the academy when it featured Jim Gary's Twentieth Century Dinosaurs and found that it was an enormous success with the public. This unconventional exhibition for a museum of science that featured contemporary sculpture, which focused upon the subjects of intense scientific inquiry, began a trend among its peer institutions, who then began to invite Gary and several other artists who specialized in scientific topics and subjects to museums that always had shied away from anything identified as "contemporary art" as exhibitions.[46]

Other exhibits[edit]

In 1979, the academy also opened "Outside-In", a hands-on children's nature museum. In 1995, it pioneered the hands-on simulation of a dinosaur dig, with its "The Big Dig". Other permanent exhibits include "Secrets of the Diorama", an insight into what goes into a diorama, and "Science at the Academy", which showcases current Academy research.

The museum also has special, changing exhibits. Recent changing exhibits include "Skin: Living Armor, Evolving Identity", "Illuminating Birds", "Extreme Deep: Mission to the Abyss", and "Crocs: Ancient Predators in a Modern World."

Public programs[edit]


Four weekend festivals organized around scientific disciplines, are held during the year. Paleopalooza, held in mid-February, features fossil collections and talks by leading paleontologists. Earth Day Festival, held in mid-April, features scientists from the Academy's Patrick Center for Environmental Research. Bug Fest, held in mid August, features entomologists, insect collections and live insects. The Philadelphia Shell Show, held in mid-October, features an international shell market and competitive shell displays.

Programs for adults[edit]

The Academy began offering lectures to the public as early as the 1820s. Current offerings include natural history author talks, lectures by scientists, workshops and classes. In addition, the Center for Environmental Policy produces public programs on environmental issues.

Programs for families and children[edit]

Since its Nature Club in the 1930s, the Academy has offered programming just for children. Several programs appropriate for different age groups are currently offered. Safari Overnight sleepovers (camp-ins) are held on selected weekends during Fall, Winter, and Spring. Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts can participate in day workshops and sleepovers to fulfill badge and pin requirements. Tiny Tot Explorers is a program for toddlers. A new series of Family Workshops designed for both adults and children was launched in early 2010.

"Wild Weekends", held on selected weekends throughout the year, offer a variety of children's programs, including hands-on exploration of museum specimens, crafts and live animal shows with mammals, birds and reptiles. Live animal shows are also presented at regular times on other days and featured prominently in the educational programs.

Educational programs[edit]

Field trips and outreach[edit]

Field trips to the Academy are available throughout the year for schools, summer camps and other groups. Optional directed programs include Discovery Lessons for younger age groups (pre-K and higher) and Science Explorers for older children (grades 7 through 9). "Academy on the Go" is an educational outreach program that visits schools, camps, and community centers.

Women in Natural Sciences[edit]

WINS (Women in Natural Sciences) is an innovative and successful science enrichment program conducted by The Academy of Natural Sciences in collaboration with the School District of Philadelphia. Since its founding in 1982, WINS has been providing female public school students with hands-on science classes, scientific literacy and skill-building activities, and opportunities for personal growth in a uniquely nurturing setting.

Other programs[edit]

Academy Explorers Camp is a day camp program offered during Spring Break and the Summer. The George Washington Carver Science Fair is held in February or March. Science fair participants are eligible for the George Washington Carver Scholars summer program, which is also held at the Academy. Educator workshops are held throughout the year. The most recent series covered the integration of science and literacy skills. Self-guided workbooks tailored for younger children are available for some of the museum exhibits.

Awards and research opportunities[edit]

Hayden Memorial Geological Award[edit]

The Hayden Memorial Geological Award is given to prominent scientists working in geology or paleontology. It was established in 1888 in memory of Ferdinand V. Hayden, a distinguished American geologist and pioneering surveyor of the American West who had extensive ties to the Academy.

Gold Medal for Distinction in Natural History Art[edit]

Established in 1980, the Gold Medal for Distinction in Natural History Art is awarded to people whose artistic endeavors and life's work have contributed to our understanding and appreciation of living things.

The recipients as of 2015 are:[47]

Richard Hopper Day Memorial Medal[edit]

The Richard Hopper Day Memorial Medal, established in 1960 by his granddaughter, Margaret Day Dilks, is awarded in recognition of outstanding contributions in interpreting the natural sciences to the public. As of 2015, the recipients are:[47]

Joseph Leidy Award[edit]

The Joseph Leidy Award honors research in the natural sciences. It was established in 1923 as a tribute to the many contributions and long association of Joseph Leidy with the Academy.

Endowments and fellowships[edit]

The Böhlke Memorial Endowment Fund[51] honors the memory of James E. Böhlke and Eugenia B. Böhlke who were prominent ichthyologists at the Academy. This fund provides support for graduate students and recent postdoctoral researchers to work with the Ichthyology Collection and the Academy's Library.

The John J. & Anna H. Gallagher Fellowship[52] provides a unique opportunity for original, multi-year, postdoctoral or sabbatical research on the systematics of microscopic invertebrates, especially Rotifera. The research focus must be on systematics and may employ ecological, behavioral, physiological, molecular or developmental tools.

Jessup and McHenry Awards[53] are competitively awarded to students wishing to conduct studies at the postgraduate, doctoral and postdoctoral levels under the supervision or sponsorship of a member of the curatorial staff of the Academy. The Jessup Award is given for any specialty in which our curators have expertise. The McHenry Fund is restricted to botanists.

The Eckelberry Endowment[54] helps support the efforts of wildlife painters, sculptors, printmakers, and other artists to better acquaint themselves with the natural world through both museum and field research. In addition, artistic and scientific mentors counsel and assist these artists as their careers develop. One grant will be given each year.

Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU), a program of the National Science Foundation, provides summer research experience for students attending colleges and universities. Each summer the Academy offers five to ten separate research projects which can include collections, field, imaging and/or lab work. The projects vary but typically include environmental, library collections, and/or systematics research.

See also[edit]



  1. ^ Kornfeld, Eve (1984). "Crisis in the Capital: The Cultural Significance of Philadelphia's Great Yellow Fever Epidemic". Pennsylvania History: A Journal of Mid-Atlantic Studies. 51 (3): 189–205. ISSN 0031-4528. JSTOR 27772983. PMID 11620405.
  2. ^ Wolf, Edwin (1976). At the Instance of Benjamin Franklin: A Brief History of the Library Company of Philadelphia, 1731-1976. The Library Company of Phil. ISBN 978-0-914076-73-5.
  3. ^ Justice, Benjamin (2008-02-01). ""The Great Contest": The American Philosophical Society Education Prize of 1795 and the Problem of American Education". American Journal of Education. 114 (2): 191–213. doi:10.1086/524315. ISSN 0195-6744. S2CID 145643821.
  4. ^ Nolan, Edward James (1909). A Short History of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia. Academy of Natural Sciences.
  5. ^ a b c "The Annals of Philosophy". Baldwin, Cradock, and Joy. 4 November 2017 – via Google Books.
  6. ^ "The Academy of Natural Sciences and Drexel University Announce a Historic Affiliation". Academy of Natural Science. 2011. Retrieved 2011-10-24.
  7. ^ Allen, Peter Van (2011-05-19). "Academy of Natural Sciences to become Drexel subsidiary". Philadelphia Business Journal. Retrieved 2011-10-24.
  8. ^ "William Bartram". amphilsoc.org. Retrieved 2020-07-31.
  9. ^ "A Bitter Feud - The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University". ansp.org. Retrieved 2020-07-31.
  10. ^ Porter, Charlotte M. (1979). "The Concussion of Revolution: Publications and Reform at the Early Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia, 1812-1842". Journal of the History of Biology. 12 (2): 273–292. doi:10.1007/BF00124194. ISSN 0022-5010. JSTOR 4330745. S2CID 83784262.
  11. ^ Wamsley, Douglas W. (2017-01-01). ""We are Fully in the Expedition": Philadelphia's Support for the North Greenland Expeditions of Robert E. Peary, 1891‐1895". Geographical Review. 107 (1): 207–235. doi:10.1111/gere.12229. ISSN 0016-7428. S2CID 159645166.
  12. ^ "CHARLES-ALEXANDRE LESUEUR". faculty.evansville.edu. Retrieved 2020-07-31.
  13. ^ "William Maclure". www.usgs.gov. Retrieved 2020-07-31.
  14. ^ "Titian Peale: Butterfly Preservation Hero - The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University". ansp.org. Retrieved 2020-07-31.
  15. ^ "About the Collections". Drexel University -. Retrieved 2020-07-31.
  16. ^ Distinctions between who is a naturalist and who is a scientist varies and can be elusive. One can make the distinction that naturalists are amateurs interested in the natural sciences, whereas scientists are professionals. This distinction, however, is confounded by history and circumstance. Most of the participants in American science during the 19th century were not professionals, although some of their contributions are of the highest order.
  17. ^ Joseph Leidy, the man who first studied Hadrosaurus, is considered the "father" of American paleontology and American Parasitology and was a leading teacher and authority on microscopy and comparative anatomy. He is widely regarded to have been the leading expert on the natural sciences during the 19th century. More about Leidy can be found on the Academy's online exhibit on Joseph Leidy Archived 2008-04-14 at the Wayback Machine
  18. ^ Moore, Gerry; Macklin, James; DeCesare, Lisa (2010). "A Brief History of Asa Gray's "Manual of Botany"". Harvard Papers in Botany. 15 (2): 277–286. doi:10.3100/025.015.0207. ISSN 1043-4534. JSTOR 41761698. S2CID 162816027.
  19. ^ a b c "Academy of Natural Sciences, Global Plants on JSTOR". plants.jstor.org. Retrieved 2020-07-31.
  20. ^ a b c Pennell, Francis W. (1950). "Historic Botanical Collections of the American Philosophical Society and the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia". Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society. 94 (2): 137–151. ISSN 0003-049X. JSTOR 3143214.
  21. ^ Mears, James A. (1981). "Guide to Plant Collectors Represented in the Herbarium of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia". Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia. 133: 141–165. ISSN 0097-3157. JSTOR 4064771.
  22. ^ McCourt, Richard M.; Spamer, Earle E. (2004). Jefferson's Botanists: Lewis and Clark Discover the Plants of the West. Academy of Natural Sciences. ISBN 978-0-910006-59-0.
  23. ^ "Diatom Herbarium". Drexel University -. Retrieved 2020-07-31.
  24. ^ Potapova, Marina (2010). "The ANSP Diatom Herbarium: an important resource for diatom research". Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia. 160: 3–12. doi:10.1635/053.160.0102. ISSN 0097-3157. JSTOR 41446124. S2CID 85938212.
  25. ^ "Renovation and computerization of ANSP Diatom Herbarium | Projects - Diatoms of North America". diatoms.org. Retrieved 2020-07-31.
  26. ^ "Mammalogy". Department of Vertebrate Zoology. Retrieved 5 December 2013.
  27. ^ Autecology is the study the interaction of an individual organism or individual species with its physical, chemical and biological environment. Particulars may include such measures as temperature preferences, pollution tolerance, light requirements, and ability to recover after disturbance.
  28. ^ The Sediment Core work in the Delaware Estuary is being conducted in collaboration with the University of Delaware.
  29. ^ The findings of this research were published in Goulden, C.E. (2006). T. Sitnikova; J. Gelhaus; B. Boldgiv (eds.). The Geology, Biodiversity and Ecology of Lake Hövsgöl (Mongolia). Leiden: Backhuys Publ. ISBN 90-5782-162-1.
  30. ^ Mongolia, recently freed from Soviet domination, was experiencing severe economic disruption and increasing pressures through globalization to exploit its natural resources. Mongolians, committed to preserving their natural heritage, needed assistance in developing their scientific and conservation infrastructure.
  31. ^ Capacity building (the development of local expertise and infrastructure) is implemented in part through the inclusion of scientists and students from the Mongolian Academy of Sciences and the National University of Mongolia in research projects, conferences, and workshops. The Academy has also sponsored the training of Mongolian students in Philadelphia.
  32. ^ Hovsgol National Park, which includes the lake and its entire watershed, was created in 1992. Improvements took the form of improving park management, improving physical facilities, staff training and developing park-community relationships.
  33. ^ Long-term ecological work at Hovsgol has been supported by the Global Environmental Facility from 2002-2006.
  34. ^ Substantial increases in annual mean temperatures and growing season length in this semiarid landscape have resulted in permafrost loss, drier soils, and reduced plant cover in the steppe. Shifts in the seasonal pattern in precipitation are disruptive to grassland plant reproduction and the incidence of extreme weather also appears to be increasing. Changes in the forests are less demonstrable, but increased fire frequency and pest insect outbreaks are suggestive.
  35. ^ Traditional pastoralism, or animal herding, has existed in Mongolia for millennia, but recent trends in livestock production and practices may be unsustainable. The herds are larger and cashmere goats, which can be particularly damaging to vegetation, are accounting for a greater percentage of the total. Moreover, much of the traditional herder expertise was lost during the Soviet era. Consequently, herders risk seriously overgrazing the steppe, which, because of global warming, is increasingly vulnerable to desertification.
  36. ^ An English version of the Herder Handbook can be downloaded Archived 2008-02-15 at the Wayback Machine from the Hovsgol Ecology website.
  37. ^ Current work at Hovsgol is funded by the National Science Foundation PIRE program, and is a partnership of the Academy's Asia Center, The University of Pennsylvania, the Mongolian Academy of Sciences, the Mongolian University of Science and Technology, and the National University of Mongolia. Information on earlier applied work at Hovsgol can be found at hovsgolecology.org.
  38. ^ "Mongolian Aquatic Insect Survey: Splash". clade.ansp.org.
  39. ^ "Academy of Natural Sciences - Thomas Jefferson Fossil Collection". Archived from the original on 2008-04-21. Retrieved 2008-03-24.
  40. ^ The volumes of the Journal of the Academy of Natural Sciences published from 1817 to 1842 are referred to as the First Series. The Second Series was published from 1847 to 1918.
  41. ^ a b c "About VIREO". Visual Resources for Ornithology, Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University. Retrieved 23 November 2020.
  42. ^ The Wagner Free Institute of Science is an early example of an organized public display of natural history collections. Founded in 1855 to offer free lectures on the natural sciences, the Wagner appointed Joseph Leidy in 1885 to organize its growing collections. Leidy's design is still largely intact, and the Wagner is effectively a museum of a museum.
  43. ^ "Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia Exhibits Department records, 1852-2001". dla.library.upenn.edu. Retrieved 2021-07-14.
  44. ^ "Dioramas". ansp.org. 2020-08-17. Retrieved 2021-07-14.
  45. ^ Belardo, Carolyn. "Dioramas Get Face-Lift". The Academy of Natural Sciences. Retrieved 2021-07-14.
  46. ^ Release, Tallahassee Museum. "Twentieth Century Dinosaurs Return to Tallahassee Museum". Archived from the original on 2012-03-28. Retrieved 2011-08-27.
  47. ^ a b "The Four Awards Bestowed by The Academy of Natural Sciences and Their Recipients". Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia. 156 (1). The Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia: 403–404. June 2007. doi:10.1635/0097-3157(2007)156[403:TFABBT]2.0.CO;2. S2CID 198160356.
  48. ^ "Gold Medal in Natural History Art". The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University. 20 November 2012. Retrieved 18 April 2015.
  49. ^ "Prosek to Receive Award". The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University. Archived from the original on 2015-04-18. Retrieved 18 April 2015.
  50. ^ "Making Science Accessible". The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University. Archived from the original on 2015-04-18. Retrieved 18 April 2015.
  51. ^ "Böhlke Memorial Endowment Fund". Archived from the original on 2008-02-03. Retrieved 2008-03-24.
  52. ^ "John J. & Anna H. Gallagher Fellowship". Archived from the original on 2008-04-17. Retrieved 2008-03-24.
  53. ^ "Jessup and McHenry Awards". Archived from the original on 2008-02-11. Retrieved 2008-03-24.
  54. ^ "Eckelberry Endowment". Archived from the original on 2008-04-30. Retrieved 2008-03-24.

General bibliography[edit]

  • Goulden, C.E. (2006). T. Sitnikova; J. Gelhaus; B. Boldgiv (eds.). The Geology, Biodiversity and Ecology of Lake Hövsgöl (Mongolia). Leiden: Backhuys Publ. ISBN 90-5782-162-1.
  • McCready, Huston (1942). "Life with the Founders". Frontiers. 6 (4). Philadelphia: The Academy of Natural Sciences: 121–125.
  • Nolan, Edward, J (1909). A short history of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia. Philadelphia: The Academy of Natural Sciences.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  • Peck, Robert, M. (October 1985). "The Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia". Antiques: 741–754.{{cite journal}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  • Peck, Robert, M. (2000). "To the Ends of the Earth for Science: Research Expeditions of the Academy of Natural Sciences: The First 150 Years, 1812-1962". Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia. 150. Philadelphia: The Academy of Natural Sciences: 15–46.{{cite journal}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  • Peck, Robert, M. (2012). A glorious enterprise : the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia and the making of American science. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)[permanent dead link]
  • Phillips, M.E. (1948). "A Brief History of Academy Publications". Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia. 100. Philadelphia: The Academy of Natural Sciences: i–xl. JSTOR 4064412.
  • "The Four Awards Bestowed by The Academy of Natural Sciences and Their Recipients". Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia. 156. Philadelphia: The Academy of Natural Sciences: 403–404. 2007. doi:10.1635/0097-3157(2007)156[403:TFABBT]2.0.CO;2. S2CID 198160356.
  • Spamer, E. E. (2000). "The legacy of 'friends of natural science': A systematic look at the scientific publications of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, 1817–2000". Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia. 150. Philadelphia: The Academy of Natural Sciences: 3–13.
  • Stroud, P.T. (1997). "The Founding of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia in 1812 and its journal in 1817". Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia. 147. Philadelphia: The Academy of Natural Sciences: 227–236.
  • Thomas Peter, Bennett (1983). "The History of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia". Contributions to the History of North American Natural History. London: Society for the Bibliography of Natural History.

External links[edit]