Harvard Museum of Natural History

Harvard Museum of Natural History Explore 16 galleries showcasing dinosaurs, mammals, meteorites, birds, rare minerals and gemstones, the world-famous Glass Flowers, and life in New England forests and marine waters.
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The Harvard Museum of Natural History presents to the public Harvard’s natural history collections and research of scientists across the University. Its historic displays include the world-famous Blaschka "Glass Flowers"; an extensive collection of minerals and meteorites; fossil, taxidermied, and jarred specimens. New and changing exhibitions highlight current science and address contemporary issues including climate change and new insights into evolutionary biology. The museum offers a wide array of lectures, classes, and programs for learners of all ages, from school children to adults. The HMNH is one of the four Harvard Museums of Science & Culture. See website for admission information.

Operating as usual

Congratulations, Scott! An impressive feat.
08/31/2020
National Audubon Society

Congratulations, Scott! An impressive feat.

On August 20th, the Harvard curator of ornithology dipped his toes into the Pacific after 76 days on the road. While relaxing at a seaside hotel, he shared some of the highs and lows from his epic trek with Audubon.

The focus of this week's selection of Extraordinary Things is the power of healing represented through objects from all ...
08/30/2020

The focus of this week's selection of Extraordinary Things is the power of healing represented through objects from all four of the Harvard Museums of Science & Culture: http://bit.ly/HMSCHealingHands

This fossil, which is 145 to 151 million years old, is clearly recognizable as a horseshoe crab. You may not know that horseshoe crabs have significantly impacted medical practices over the last hundred years.

A protein in horseshoe crab blood—Limulus amebocyte lysate (LAL)—rapidly clots when it encounters endotoxins, toxins within bacterial cells that cause a variety of infections in humans. The LAL bacterial endotoxin test is in high demand as a safety test for medical equipment, including implants, pacemakers, angioplasty stents, catheter tubing, and injectables. To reduce dependence on the blood of the horseshoe crab, a synthetic form of LAL is under development, although this alternative cannot yet replace organically derived LAL in all cases.

Learn more about the amazing horseshoe crab here: http://bit.ly/ExtraordinaryThingsHorseshoe

Fossilized Horseshoe Crab (Mesolimulus walchi), Harvard Museum of Natural History, Jurassic, Solnhofen Limestone, Germany, Museum of Comparative Zoology

08/29/2020
HMSC Story Time: Una Historia Diferente/ A Different Story

Welcome to this week's HMSC Story Time! This week we are exploring size. Hear a story about two very different-sized animals, the rhinoceros and the rhinoceros beetle with a Spanish & English reading of A Different Story/ Una Historia Diferente by Adolfo Serra (Eerdmans, 2019). Maria Celeste Luna reads this beautiful story, while evolutionary biologists Fabio Lugar and Bruno de Medeiros join Celeste in telling us about the features that distinguish different types of rhinoceroses from each other. #HMSCconnects

Are you planning to go to the beach this weekend?  It’s so fun to collect shells at the beach. You might find shells of ...
08/29/2020

Are you planning to go to the beach this weekend? It’s so fun to collect shells at the beach. You might find shells of many shapes and sizes, washed by the waves onto the shore.

We usually find these shells empty, after the animal that once lived inside has died. Seashells are actually the skeletons of marine mollusks like snails, clams, scallops, and mussels.

Unlike humans, mollusks do not have a skeleton inside of them. Instead, many form exoskeletons, hard coverings that surround their bodies. Just like our bones form and get bigger as we grow, the shells of mollusks are made by the animal’s body. The clam, scallop, mussel, and snail shells we find on the beach are made of calcium carbonate, a compound that is sensitive to acid. Try this experiment from our family eNews to see how shells react to acid.

Materials:
Seashell
Vinegar
Clear drinking glass or jar

Directions:
Place the seashell in the glass or jar.

Pour in enough vinegar to cover the shell by about 2 inches.

Look closely at the shell. Can you see tiny bubbles rising off of the shell and through the vinegar? The vinegar is reacting with the shell and releasing bubbles of carbon dioxide.

Change the vinegar every day and watch what happens to the shell over time!

For more weekly activities from the #HMSCconnects family group sign up for the newsletter here: https://bit.ly/signupconnectsfamilies

08/28/2020

This is so satisfying! Watch this video from the HMSC Explorers Club of a lactarius mushroom (milk cap) oozing a milky, latex-like substance.

From Lindsay of the HMSC Explorers Club: "Happy #FungiFriday, explorers! Today we’re talking about the genus Lactarius. The prefix lact- denotes a connection to milk, which refers to a distinguishing character of this genus. When damaged, the gills of Lactarius mushrooms exude a milky latex-like substance. That explains why mushrooms in this genus are commonly referred to as Milk Caps!

If you’ve ever touched the latex of a Milk Cap, you’ll know that it is often quite sticky and will leave your fingers feeling tacky. Many believe that the purpose of this sticky fluid is to deter mycophagy (remember our post about mycophagy from a few weeks ago?) by gumming up the mouth parts of gastropods and insects that normally love to chow down on mushrooms. Indeed, it seems that Lactarius are far less likely to become lunch for slugs than their close relatives, the Russulas.

The color of latex is variable by species, but is typically white or yellow. But can you guess what color latex is produced by Lactarius indigo? I haven’t come across one of these bright blue mushrooms, but they are certainly on my Fungi Wish List!"

Have you seen our brand new family activities page? http://bit.ly/HMSCFamilyActivitiesConnect to museum exhibits and exp...
08/27/2020

Have you seen our brand new family activities page? http://bit.ly/HMSCFamilyActivities

Connect to museum exhibits and explore culture and science with games, experiments, and things to make at home. Create, Play, Experiment, and Observe with activities like the scarab beetle necklace, smell like a wolf, and make a compass. Get more ideas by signing up for our family eNews: https://bit.ly/signupconnectsfamilies. #MuseumFromHome #HMSCconnects

Today is #WomensEqualityDay, a day to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the #19thAmendment, which granted women the r...
08/26/2020

Today is #WomensEqualityDay, a day to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the #19thAmendment, which granted women the right to vote in 1920.

We created a line-up of fun museum resources to help you celebrate! https://bit.ly/HMSCCelebratingWomen #Suffrage100

Listen to the empowering stories behind some of Harvard's top talents with the #HMSCconnects! podcast: https://bit.ly/HMSCconnectspodcast.

Discover four extraordinary things from the collections that celebrate women’s work: https://bit.ly/WomensWorkExtraordinaryThings.

Color your way through the HMSC collections with coloring pages that represent women's accomplishments throughout history: https://bit.ly/CelebratingWomenColoringPages.

Join Carol for Story Time as she reads Dinosaur Lady by Linda Skeers: https://bit.ly/StoryTimeDinosaurLady.

Print out the "Women in Science" booklet & learn the special fold technique: https://bit.ly/MariaCelesteLunaWomenInScienceBooklet / http://bit.ly/WomenInScienceBookletFold

Learn about women in history along with the HMSC Explorers Club on Instagram: https://bit.ly/HMSCExplorersClubIG

Painting image credit: Mummy Portrait of a Woman with Earrings, c. 130-140 CE, Ancient & Byzantine World, Africa, Antinoopolis (Egypt), Roman Imperial period, Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Gift of Dr. Denman W. Ross, 1923, 1923.60, Asian and Mediterranean Art. https://hvrd.art/o/219609 © President and Fellows of Harvard College.

Need a little #MondayMotivation? Our exhibits colleague Jennifer Berglund interviewed Andrew Williston for our very firs...
08/24/2020

Need a little #MondayMotivation? Our exhibits colleague Jennifer Berglund interviewed Andrew Williston for our very first episode of the HMSC Connects! podcast.

Andrew manages the Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology Ichthyology collection, an assemblage of one and a half million specimens of preserved fishes. He had so many fascinating things to say about the collection, the act of collecting, and the marriage of science & art. See the inspiring quote below, and listen to the full episode here: http://bit.ly/HMSCPodcastWilliston. #MuseumFromHome #HMSCconnects

Meet Tauana Cunha, Postdoctoral Fellow at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Panama, and former member of the ...
08/22/2020

Meet Tauana Cunha, Postdoctoral Fellow at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Panama, and former member of the Giribet Lab, Harvard Department of Organismic & Evolutionary Biology.

She penned a guest "What We're Doing" column for our family eNews this week, and we learned so much about snails, slugs, and surprisingly, origami!

"Snails and slugs are some of the most diverse marine animals and it is why I decided to become a biologist and scientist.

I'm from Brazil, where I started out studying marine organisms in college. I then moved to the U.S. to get my PhD at Harvard and focused my work on seashells. Some of my favorites are abalones, keyhole limpets, and top snails.

As a researcher, I want to understand how this biodiversity originated. Because their hard structures fossilize well, we can learn about their history, which goes back over 500 million years! For example, by studying the shape of fossil seashells from rocky environments, I found that they became shorter and wider over time, evolving possibly as a defense against an increasing diversity of predators such as crabs and fishes.

In one of my current projects I am investigating how different groups of marine snails are related to each other. This work involves going to the sea, flipping over many rocks looking for animals, and then sequencing their DNA in the lab. Next I spend lots of time analyzing the data to understand the evolutionary relationships, and writing up what I discover so that other people can learn too. Here are some of the many origami snail shells I folded during quarantine."

What kinds of crafts have you taught yourself while at home? Sign-up for the family eNews to discover even more about nature, culture, and activities to do at home: https://bit.ly/signupconnectsfamilies. #Crafturday #HMSCconnects

If you have ever been in our Cenozoic mammal hall you know that the Ground sloth is a real eye catcher. As you round the...
08/21/2020

If you have ever been in our Cenozoic mammal hall you know that the Ground sloth is a real eye catcher. As you round the bend there it is, in all its strange, gigantic glory.

The last giant sloths probably lived about 10,000 years ago at the end of the Pleistocene period. These plant-eating creatures rivaled elephants in size! Unlike modern sloths, which spend most of their time in trees, ground sloths spent all of their time on the ground.

Color in our ground sloth at home with this printable coloring sheet, fresh from our collections. http://bit.ly/GroundSlothColoringSheet #FossilFriday #ColorOurCollections #HMSCconnects

This is a great interview with Professor Evelynn Hammonds, Chair of the Harvard Department of the History of Science, ab...
08/20/2020

This is a great interview with Professor Evelynn Hammonds, Chair of the Harvard Department of the History of Science, about her challenges moving through academia as a black woman, and the women who inspired her along the way. https://bit.ly/HMSCconnectspodcast

For our third episode celebrating the Women’s #Suffrage Centennial this month our HMSC Connects! podcast host Jennifer Berglund sits down with Professor Evelynn Hammonds, Chair of the Harvard Department of the History of Science. Evelynn talks about her interest in physics at an early age, her rise in academia as a minority, and a woman, and her work as a consultant to Margot Shetterly, the author of Hidden Figures.

Early in her career, Professor Hammonds discovered more urgent questions about the lack of women, particularly Women of Color, in scientific disciplines. She says, “It was very difficult for white people to believe that Black people could do science, and especially physics. I think as an African American woman, I carried the double burden. You’re constantly having to prove yourself over and over again. We were trying to carve a space out for ourselves to just be able to do our work and follow our passion.”

Listen to the full episode here: https://bit.ly/HMSCconnectspodcast. #HMSCconnects #Podcast

Image credit: Don West, fotografiks.

This month we are celebrating the women behind our museum collections in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the r...
08/18/2020

This month we are celebrating the women behind our museum collections in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th amendment.

The Ware Collection of Blaschka Glass Models of Plants, better known as the Glass Flowers, is named in honor of the Ware family. Elizabeth C. Ware (pictured in her sitting room) and her daughter, Mary Lee Ware (pictured in front of a fence) were early supporters of the collection, having provided funding to order more glass models after seeing examples of the Blaschkasʼ work.

They remained devoted benefactors for the entire production which spanned 50 years. In 1890, the collection was presented to Harvard University as a gift in memory of Elizabethʼs husband and Maryʼs father, Dr. Charles Eliot Ware (Harvard class of 1834). The bouquet includes forget-me-nots, lobelia, phlox, flax and mignonette and a glass ribbon around the stems reads “Dedicated to Mrs. and Miss Ware / L. & R. Blaschka.”

Download the bouquet coloring page and splash it with the colors of your favorite Glass Flowers!

https://bit.ly/WareBouquetColoring #ColorOurCollections #HMSCconnects #MuseumAtHome

Glass Flowers Bouquet, Leopold and Rudolf Blaschka, 1889, Harvard University Herbaria, The Archives of Rudolf and Leopold Blaschka and the Ware Collection of Blaschka Glass Models of Plants.

Meet Jordan Kennedy, Doctoral Candidate in the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.We spo...
08/17/2020

Meet Jordan Kennedy, Doctoral Candidate in the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.

We spoke with her for our #HMSCconnects! family eNews.

As a child, Jordan Kennedy lived on a cattle ranch in rural Montana. Today, she conducts research on beaver dams in the Rocky Mountains near where she grew up.

Being a female engineering student has meant both opportunities and challenges for Jordan. Women scientists who came before her created scholarships, programs, and networks that were instrumental to Jordan. At the same time, Jordan was often the only woman in her classes, which made it hard to find “study buddies." Internships and experience helped her learn to connect and build friendships with her male lab mates.

Jordan’s current research looks at how and when beavers build dams, and how those conditions relate to log jams in rivers. Read more here: https://toservebetter.harvard.edu/state/montana.

Beavers build dams to shape their environment. Dams create an area of deeper, stiller water; the kind of spot that beavers like to live. Beaver dams don’t stop the flow of water. If they did, beavers would have to continually build higher dams to keep them from overflowing! Natural log jams also make areas of deeper, stiller water. Both beaver dams and natural log jams are important for the ecosystem as they create places where many animals, not just beavers, can live.

Try this experiment to see if you can create a beaver dam!

Materials:
Sandbox or a patch of ground where you can dig

Shovel

Hose or a watering can filled with water

Natural materials such as sticks, leaves, grass, dirt, and rocks

Bucket

Instructions:
Dig a channel in the sand or ground. Make it at least 6 inches wide and 3 feet long. This will be your model riverbed.

Use the hose or watering can to pour water into one end of your channel. Some of it will soak into the ground. Keep adding water until it flows through your channel.

Try to make a dam! Use the natural materials to make a dam about halfway down your channel. You can use your bucket to mix water and dirt to make mud.

Test your dam. Use the hose or watering can to pour water into one end of your channel. Remember, your dam doesn’t have to stop the flow of water to make a deep pool; real beaver dams don’t!

This is a great overview of a study on the Blaschka sea creatures collection from the Harvard Museum of Comparative Zool...
08/16/2020
“Hands On” with Fragile Glass Sea Creatures

This is a great overview of a study on the Blaschka sea creatures collection from the Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology, and how an extensive conservation project led by MCZ Director James Hanken brought them to life.

Virtually manipulate some of the 3D Blaschka models through Sketchfab: https://sketchfab.com/ARC-3D.

Complementary imaging techniques combine to create 3-D models that virtual visitors can examine from any angle.

Sink like a shark for #SharkWeek with this activity from our family eNews! Buoyancy is the ability of something to float...
08/15/2020

Sink like a shark for #SharkWeek with this activity from our family eNews!

Buoyancy is the ability of something to float in water. Bony fish have a special organ called a swim bladder that they use to control how buoyant they are. Unlike bony fish, sharks don’t have a swim bladder to help them control how much they sink or float in the water. Most sharks are negatively buoyant, which means they sink. They need to swim to move upward in the water. A few sharks are positively buoyant; they float and need to swim to move down. Some are neutrally buoyant; they don’t float or sink, instead they stay somewhere in the middle.

Experiment with buoyancy and discover if you can create something that is neutrally buoyant!

Materials:
Large container filled with water such as a large bucket, storage bin, kiddie pool, or bathtub.

A variety of small materials such as corks, marbles, metal washers or nuts, drinking straws, aluminum foil, or beads.

Clay & string

Experiments to Try:
Sink or Float? Drop each material into the water. What happens? Which materials sink? Which float?

Make it Sink, Make it Float. Can you make the same piece of clay behave two different ways?

First, try to form your clay into a shape that sinks. Then, try to form your clay into a shape that floats!

Make a Flinker. A “flinker” is something that is neutrally buoyant; it doesn’t float or sink, it “flinks” somewhere in the middle. Use your small materials, clay, and string to build something that “flinks” for at least 10 seconds. If your first design doesn’t work, redesign and try again!

Get more ideas to #MuseumAtHome by signing up for our family eNews: https://bit.ly/signupconnectsfamilies.

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26 Oxford St
Cambridge, MA
02138

MBTA Red Line to Harvard Square. 8-minute walk to museum.

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Comments

Fhfe
When will you be opening back up?
Selva Ozelli “Art in the Time of Corona”: https://www.facebook.com/527889230574675/posts/3281134275250143/
I hope that experts of NASA saw my diamond meteorite, it is a new kind that has never been seen befor. Into this piece there is diamond well seen by eyes. I hope that this meteorite take a name of my village.
I have a couple very early American additions of Darwin given to me years ago by a Clark Univ. Professor.
Found out about this place due to it's inclusion in my page-a-day calendar, which features cool sights to see around the world!
My son found this at his grandparents house. We’d love to know what it is!
Open today??
The whole exhibit was amazing. I loved this place, however when it was time to leave it was pouring outside. My mom almost 80 years old and with asthma had to wait outside because they asked us to leave because it was time to close. We were just waiting in the lobby for the person to pick up us. My mom got a very bad cold from the visit and I was very disappointed of the lack of compassion.