Wagner Free Institute of Science

Wagner Free Institute of Science Where little has changed but the century! A free Victorian era natural history museum in Philadelphia
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Founded in 1855, the Wagner Free Institute of Science is dedicated to providing free public education in science. Its programs include free courses and lectures, field trips and lessons for children and museum tours for all ages. The evening science courses are in their 157th year, making them the oldest program devoted to free adult education in the United States. The Institute also has a strong

commitment to children’s science education and offers a range of programs for school groups and through partnerships with neighboring schools and community groups. The Institute’s Museum houses more than 100,000 natural history specimens, a collection begun by founder William Wagner in the early nineteenth century and expanded by the pre-eminent scientist Joseph Leidy in the 1880s. Completed in 1865, the Institute’s National Historic Landmark building is essentially unchanged since the late-nineteenth century and includes a Victorian Exhibition Hall filled with fossils, shells, minerals and mounted animal skeletons and skins displayed in original wood and glass cabinets. The Museum is open to visitors Tuesdays - Fridays, 9 AM to 4 PM, year-round. Evening and weekend programs are offered during the fall, winter and spring.

On holiday break? Visit the Wagner this week! The museum will be open Wednesday through Friday from 9:30 am to 4:30 pm, ...
12/26/2023

On holiday break? Visit the Wagner this week! The museum will be open Wednesday through Friday from 9:30 am to 4:30 pm, with different special programs at 2 pm each day:

Wed, Dec 27: Guided Drawing in the Museum: Sketch and draw amidst the wonders of our museum, guided by our knowledgeable staff. Participants of all ages and artistic abilities are welcome to join in. Feel free to bring your own pad and pencils, or utilize the sketching supplies provided by the Wagner.

Thurs, Dec 28: Collections Tour with Director, Susan Glassman: Get an insider's look at our vast natural history collection and discover the rich history behind the Wagner’s rarest specimens. The tour will last an hour. Sign up when you arrive.

Fri, Dec 29: Animal Adaptations: Children’s Lesson and Touch Table: A Wagner Educator will lead a lesson on Animal Adaptations in the historic lecture hall, after which children will be invited to interact with touchable specimens from our teaching collection! This lesson explores the special physical features and behaviors of animals that help them survive and is appropriate for all ages, but especially for 6-12 year olds. The lesson will be followed by self-guided scavenger hunts in the museum.

Preregister at this link, or just sign in when you arrive! https://loom.ly/kUaDw7Q

12/24/2023

Warm wishes from the Wagner staff to our wonderful community - have a happy holiday season and we look forward to seeing you in the New Year!

Struggling to find the perfect gift? The Wagner’s got you covered! This year, give the (fully tax-deductible) gift of a ...
12/13/2023

Struggling to find the perfect gift? The Wagner’s got you covered!

This year, give the (fully tax-deductible) gift of a Wagner membership! Whether they’re an amateur scientist, Philly history buff, or an artist inspired by the beauty of nature, there’s something here for everyone. All Wagner members receive postcard previews of upcoming programs, invitations to special events, and discount prices on after-hours events and gift shop purchases. At the Sponsor-level and above, they also get reciprocal membership at 1,300 museums and cultural sites across the continent through The North American Reciprocal Museum Association! Best of all, membership helps protect our historic building and collections for generations to come.

Find out more information about how to give the gift of membership!
https://www.wagnerfreeinstitute.org/membership

It's the holiday season, and what better way to spend it than a visit to the Wagner!❄️We are a part of Free Museum Days ...
12/12/2023

It's the holiday season, and what better way to spend it than a visit to the Wagner!❄️

We are a part of Free Museum Days with the Philly Holiday Experience this winter- happening December 21st! Visit our extensive collection of 100,000+ natural history specimens in our Victorian-era building; explore on your own or enjoy a themed scavenger hunt and other creative activities!

While you visit, make sure to stop by in our gift shop to stock up on presents for all your science, history, and nature loving friends. Browse through vintage school chart posters, figurines, real geodes to break open, natural crystals, minerals, and fossils, art made by local artists, and of course, our Wagner swag!

For more info on Free Museum Days, visit: https://loom.ly/8p8wl1Y

Happening TONIGHT at 5:30PM - Sip & Sketch: Threads of Memory!🎨Discover your inner artist at the Wagner! Enjoy refreshme...
12/06/2023

Happening TONIGHT at 5:30PM - Sip & Sketch: Threads of Memory!🎨

Discover your inner artist at the Wagner! Enjoy refreshments and a seasonal cocktail as you are guided through our museum by textile artist Cait McCormack. After a short talk, McCormack will host a fun drawing exercise rooted in observation and recollection; participants will be encouraged to select and observe a specimen of their choosing for a set duration of time, then be prompted to draw the specimen from memory.

A few tickets are still available! Buy yours at: https://loom.ly/L4yyC_o

Have you grabbed your ticket for our special Sip & Sketch yet?🥂"Threads of Memory" is THIS WEDNESDAY starting at 5:30PM!...
12/04/2023

Have you grabbed your ticket for our special Sip & Sketch yet?🥂

"Threads of Memory" is THIS WEDNESDAY starting at 5:30PM!
Explore the Wagner's collection through art with the expertise and insight of Philadelphia-based textile artist Cait McCormack. Following a short talk delving into the metaphor of unraveling string in their fiber sculptures, McCormack will guide attendees through a fun drawing exercise rooted in observation and recollection in our museum.

Enjoy light refreshments and a special seasonal cocktail as you explore the collections!
Spots are limited- to buy your ticket today, visit: https://loom.ly/L4yyC_o

Interested in learning more about the importance of trees in our world?In our new course, "All About Trees", Professor K...
12/03/2023

Interested in learning more about the importance of trees in our world?

In our new course, "All About Trees", Professor Karen Snetselaar will explore several fundamental properties of trees. Each week the class will consider what science can tell us about these properties and apply that knowledge to answer popular questions such as: How are trees able to grow so large? Do they really communicate with one another underground? Why are trees so vital to ameliorating storm water problems in urban areas?

The course runs for six weeks, starting January 16th, and takes place at the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society.
Seats are limited, register today!
https://loom.ly/W67ooxU

To kick off the gift giving season, we've launched a special merch campaign with Bonfire. We're bringing back both fan-f...
12/01/2023

To kick off the gift giving season, we've launched a special merch campaign with Bonfire. We're bringing back both fan-favorite swag of the past AND a brand new design!

When you order you don't just get cool Wagner swag, you help make our work possible for the next year - that means free museum visits, weeknight public talks and lectures, weekend family programs, library research, and weekly science classes for 5 North Philly elementary schools!

Orders are only open until December 18th, so get your merch today!

For shirts and sweatshirts: https://loom.ly/dnNldoc
For night owl mug: https://loom.ly/d2SxWhA
For early bird mug: https://loom.ly/luGG84U

Meet the artist who will be guiding us through our Sip & Sketch in the Museum next week!Our December program, Threads of...
12/01/2023

Meet the artist who will be guiding us through our Sip & Sketch in the Museum next week!

Our December program, Threads of Memory with guest artist Cait McCormack, will focus on the Wagner’s mounted skeletons, fossils, bones, and skins. Cait will discuss their process, their influences stemming from the natural world, and their interest in the ephemeral qualities of memory.

Participants will be encouraged to select and observe a specimen of their choosing for a set duration of time. They will then be prompted to draw the specimen from memory. What level of detail will your drawing possess? Will you focus on one aspect of the specimen more than others? Notions such as accuracy, perspective, and visual bias will be explored during this interactive and challenging activity; all interpretations are valid and every drawing tells a story not only about the subject but about the mind of the artist, too.

Enjoy light refreshments and a special seasonal cocktail as you sketch and explore the collection with Cait.
Space is limited, buy your ticket today! https://loom.ly/L4yyC_o
Images: Portrait of Cair McCormack. Coarse and Wet; Photo by Jason Chen. Kindertide; Photo by Jason Chen.

It's not too late to grab a free ticket for this Saturday's Open House! We'll be open from Noon to 4 on Saturday for sel...
11/30/2023

It's not too late to grab a free ticket for this Saturday's Open House!

We'll be open from Noon to 4 on Saturday for self-guided museum exploration, as well as a special sneak peek into our archives collections! We will feature early teaching materials, including examples of ink and water-color teaching charts made by Joseph Leidy for his students and lantern slide photomicrographs for courses in the 1890s and early 1900s. There will be a demonstration microscope to view historic slides and a showing of lantern slide microphotographs in the Lecture Hall from 1-3 PM.
Learn about how the Wagner taught and shared science with the public more than 100 years ago!

To learn more and register, visit: https://loom.ly/cg05oxI
Images: Dall Microscope – belonged to William H. Dall. Slide of Polysiphonia fibrate (a red algea). Slide of Pollen of Common Evening Primrose.

SIP & SKETCH IN THE MUSEUM is back- Wednesday, December 6, 5:30-7:30pm. Explore our specimen collection on a whole new l...
11/27/2023

SIP & SKETCH IN THE MUSEUM is back- Wednesday, December 6, 5:30-7:30pm. Explore our specimen collection on a whole new level, with pencil, paper, and a cocktail to get your creative juices flowing! This evening series invites participants to experience the Wagner through art as guest artist, Cait McCormack, leads attendees in sketching from the museum specimens.

Through the use of visual aids and physical examples of their work, textile artist Cait McCormack will speak about their process, their influences stemming from the natural world, and their interest in the ephemeral qualities of memory. Following a lecture delving into the metaphor of unraveling string in their fiber sculptures, McCormack will guide attendees through a fun drawing exercise rooted in observation and recollection.

Space is limited and tickets are required: https://loom.ly/L4yyC_o

Next Saturday marks our December Open House!On December 2, join us for a very special day and take a peek into the Wagne...
11/25/2023

Next Saturday marks our December Open House!
On December 2, join us for a very special day and take a peek into the Wagner's archives!

This Open House will feature early teaching materials from our archives, including examples of ink and water-color teaching charts made by Joseph Leidy for his students and lantern slide photomicrographs from the 1890s/1900s. Come learn about how the Wagner taught and shared science with the public more than 100 years ago.

As always, the Exhibit Hall will be open for self-guided exploration of the natural history collection throughout the day.
Learn more and register here: https://loom.ly/cg05oxI

Here's to a day filled with gratitude and joy! 🦃At the Wagner, we're incredibly thankful for everyone that is part of ou...
11/23/2023

Here's to a day filled with gratitude and joy! 🦃

At the Wagner, we're incredibly thankful for everyone that is part of our wonderful community. Whether you're a student or faculty member, visitor or volunteer, new donor or longtime member, your passion and support inspires us each and every day. With that, we wish you a holiday filled with laughter, love, and a delicious feast!

Our museum is closed through Monday, November 27th. Regular visiting hours will continue on Tuesday the 28th at 9:30am.

Have you gotten your free tickets to "The Chemistry of Clean: The Art & Science of Soap Making"?Our November's First Sat...
10/30/2023

Have you gotten your free tickets to "The Chemistry of Clean: The Art & Science of Soap Making"?

Our November's First Saturday Open House is going to get soapy! Swing by the Wagner to explore our collections and learn all about the science of soap with Dr. Thomas Twardowksi, Thomas Jefferson University.
Listen to interesting presentations and even make your own soap, too!

For more information, visit: https://loom.ly/O5cnQOQ
Image: Dr. Twardowski presenting a hands-on talk during last February's Open House.

COMING UP- Join us for the "Chemistry of Clean: The Art & Science of Soap Making"! 🧼We will be open on Saturday, Novembe...
10/23/2023

COMING UP- Join us for the "Chemistry of Clean: The Art & Science of Soap Making"! 🧼

We will be open on Saturday, November 4th from noon to 4pm for our monthly Open House. Dr. Twardowski of Thomas Jefferson University will be sharing all the suds, surfactants and secrets of soap. Listen in to his presentations and even make your own soap to take home!

Learn more about the event and get your free tickets today: https://loom.ly/O5cnQOQ
Image: Craftsmen making soap figures. Shutterstock: 2159932383

We're delighted to honor Dr. Arlene Bennett as one of our honorees and award her with the Inaugural Louisa Binney Wagner...
10/14/2023

We're delighted to honor Dr. Arlene Bennett as one of our honorees and award her with the Inaugural Louisa Binney Wagner award at A Sip of Science this year!

Arlene is a physician, psychiatrist, and valued friend of the Wagner. She graduated from the University of Pennsylvania Medical School in 1964 - one of only 6 women in her class and the first African American woman. Aside from her long and distinguished medical career, Arlene is deeply engaged in serving her community. For nearly three decades, she's been a vital advocate for the Wagner's mission of providing access to science and learning for everyone.

Learn more about this vibrant event and our other two honorees and get your tickets today! https://loom.ly/AYWVKX0

Introducing, one our three VIBRANT Sip of Science honorees, Lori Hayes- Director of Urban Forestry for Philadelphia Park...
10/13/2023

Introducing, one our three VIBRANT Sip of Science honorees, Lori Hayes- Director of Urban Forestry for Philadelphia Parks & Recreation during A Sip of Science!

Lori has been with Philadelphia Parks & Recreation since 1981. Over the years, she has worn many hats in the industry, and today leads the Urban Forestry Division, caring for street trees and responding to tree emergencies all over the city at all hours of the day. Lori strives to make tree tending and arboriculture accessible to everyone through a variety of initiatives, including the city's collaborative TreePhilly program, which has a goal to increase the city tree canopy coverage to 30% in all neighborhoods.

We are thrilled to honor Lori as she officially retires from her 42-year career at Parks & Recreation!

Learn more about this vibrant event and our other two honorees and get your tickets today! https://loom.ly/AYWVKX0

Introducing, one our three VIBRANT Sip of Science honorees, Lamar Gore, Refuge Manager of John Heinz National Wildlife R...
10/12/2023

Introducing, one our three VIBRANT Sip of Science honorees, Lamar Gore, Refuge Manager of John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge At Tinicum.

At Heinz, Lamar has dedicated himself not only to conserving this beautiful urban oasis, but also to stewarding more people into nature. Since 2014, Lamar has led a shift at the refuge to connect with the communities around it and reconsider what it means to be a wildlife refuge in Philadelphia. He’s created programs for local youth, remedied transportation barriers that prevent people from visiting Heinz and other area green spaces, and is committed to addressing structural barriers that prevent people of color from becoming conservationists and wildlife biologists.

We’re delighted to honor Lamar for his leadership at Heinz, where his commitment to protecting nature extends to fostering an environment where all people can learn and engage with the flora and fauna around us.

Learn more about this vibrant event and our other two honorees (who we'll also be introducing over the next few days) and get your tickets today! https://loom.ly/AYWVKX0

Next Thursday we are hosting the annual Philadelphia Lantern Slide Salon for   !Step back in time and enjoy the showcasi...
10/12/2023

Next Thursday we are hosting the annual Philadelphia Lantern Slide Salon for !

Step back in time and enjoy the showcasing of rarely seen glass lantern slides in our historic lecture hall! Alongside us, five other participating Philadelphia organizations will present their special collections of slides.

For more information and registration, visit https://loom.ly/0mR0_UA
Image: Swiss Goats. From the lantern slide collections of Jay V. Hare and John C. Wister in the PHS McLean Library & Archives.

Celebrate   at the Wagner in our historic Lecture Hall on Thursday, Oct 19!The showcase includes glass lantern slides fr...
09/29/2023

Celebrate at the Wagner in our historic Lecture Hall on Thursday, Oct 19!

The showcase includes glass lantern slides from the special collections of The Academy of Natural Sciences; American Philosophical Society; The Historical Society of Frankford; Penn Museum; PHS : Pennsylvania Horticultural Society; Wagner Free Institute of Science illuminated through our historic lantern projector.

Find out more here: https://loom.ly/0mR0_UA
Image: Franklin’s First Arrival in Philadelphia. From the collections of the American Philosophical Society.

The moment you have all been waiting for ... A Sip of Science is BACK!🥂Join us for a "vibrant" evening of celebration at...
09/25/2023

The moment you have all been waiting for ... A Sip of Science is BACK!🥂

Join us for a "vibrant" evening of celebration at our annual fall fundraiser! This event allows us to raise crucial funds to sustain our historic institution and support all of our free education programming.

This year, we are honoring Lamar Gore of the John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge and Lori Hayes of Philadelphia Parks & Recreation for their dedication to protecting and expanding access to our rich, urban green spaces. We will also recognize Philadelphia physician Dr. Arlene Bennett with the inaugural Louisa Binney Wagner Award for her decades-long support and dedication to the Wagner.

Eat, drink and party among our 100,000 specimens and pay tribute to our 3 extraordinary honorees!

Tickets and Sponsorship Opportunities are available now!
For more information, visit: https://loom.ly/AYWVKX0

Have you registered for our next free event yet: FlightFest- October's First Saturday Open House !?We'll be open from 12...
09/25/2023

Have you registered for our next free event yet: FlightFest- October's First Saturday Open House !?

We'll be open from 12-4pm on the 7th! This event will focus on migratory birds and the challenges they face on their travels during the Atlantic Flyway, partnered with Bird Safe Philly.

For more information and registration, visit: https://loom.ly/U99SlWs

The Annual Philadelphia Lantern Slide Salon is BACK and in-person!🎞️Thursday, Oct 19, 6 - 7:30pm celebrate   at the Wagn...
09/21/2023

The Annual Philadelphia Lantern Slide Salon is BACK and in-person!🎞️
Thursday, Oct 19, 6 - 7:30pm celebrate at the Wagner in our historic Lecture Hall!

The showcase includes glass lantern slides from the special collections of 6 Philadelphia organizations: The Academy of Natural Sciences; American Philosophical Society; The Historical Society of Frankford; Penn Museum; PHS : Pennsylvania Horticultural Society; Wagner Free Institute of Science illuminated through our historic lantern projector.

Find out more here: https://loom.ly/0mR0_UA
Image: In veranda at Paea, Tahiti. John Hill Bourne seated in a chair. Penn Museum image no. 216664.

Caw-caw! Get ramped up for our next First Saturday Open House- October's theme is FlightFest: All About Birds! 🦆Explore ...
09/18/2023

Caw-caw! Get ramped up for our next First Saturday Open House- October's theme is FlightFest: All About Birds! 🦆
Explore the Wagner's extensive bird collection, complete themed activities, and learn about migratory patterns from Bird Safe Philly.
To learn more and register, visit: https://loom.ly/U99SlWs
Image: various bird species from the Wagner's collection, photo taken by David Graham

Interested in learning about the future of energy technology and sustainability?Join Professor Kevin Cannon's online cou...
09/15/2023

Interested in learning about the future of energy technology and sustainability?

Join Professor Kevin Cannon's online course, "Stay Brighter Longer: Options to Meet Our Energy Needs" starting in just 2 weeks!
Cannon will discuss the state of fossil fuels today and the advantages and disadvantages to different, alternative fuel technologies.

This course is held online on Zoom, starting October 2nd.
For more information and registration, visit: https://loom.ly/t8YMEQg

Image: DAM SPILLWAY, SCREENHOUSE, FACING NORTHEAST - Cove Hydroelectric Development, Forebay and Diversion Dam, Cove Power Plant Road, Grace, Caribou County, ID

🍃What's the word? September's Field Notes Newsletter is out!🍃Click this link, take a peek, and skim through this issue t...
09/08/2023

🍃What's the word? September's Field Notes Newsletter is out!🍃

Click this link, take a peek, and skim through this issue to discover our newly announced Fall programs. Saturday event themes, courses, Lantern Slide Salon, a Sip of Science... you name it! https://loom.ly/xl8yItM

Want to be the first to know about our programs? You can join our newsletter and mailing list here: https://loom.ly/m0piL6A

THIS SATURDAY, September 9th, marks Joseph Leidy's 200th birthday! Born in 1823, this legendary scientist and educator h...
09/07/2023

THIS SATURDAY, September 9th, marks Joseph Leidy's 200th birthday! Born in 1823, this legendary scientist and educator had a lasting impact on the Wagner. We can thank him for sending out the first field expeditions, building a scientific research program, growing the museum collections and creating the exhibit that is still in place today.

Celebrate Leidy's 200th WITH US THIS SATURDAY! We will have a birthday cake and Leidy swag to share at our Saturday Open House. 🍰
For more information and registration: https://loom.ly/Yy6KJfU

Join us in October for a very special history of science course, "Madness: A Brief History" with Professor Darin Hayton!...
09/05/2023

Join us in October for a very special history of science course, "Madness: A Brief History" with Professor Darin Hayton!
The class will examine some of the ways past societies identified, explained, and reacted to behavior they considered deviant and evidence of madness through the 19th century in Europe and North America.

The class is in person and will be held at the Parkway Central Library, Free Library of Philadelphia.
To learn more and how to register, visit: https://loom.ly/jzZ-rAU
Image: Hieronymus Bosch, Removing the Stone of Folly (1494)

Are you a lover of all things bugs?Join us for our course, "Hail the Mighty Insects!" with Professor Greg Cowper this Oc...
09/04/2023

Are you a lover of all things bugs?
Join us for our course, "Hail the Mighty Insects!" with Professor Greg Cowper this October!
This serves as a great introduction to Entomology, as the class will go over the evolution, morphology, development, behavior & classification of 27 insect orders!

This class will meet in person at the Parkway Central Library, 1901 Vine St. Free Library of Philadelphia
To learn more and how to register, visit: https://loom.ly/qsNhq5s

  is happening NEXT WEEK!We're excited to be apart of CampusPhilly's CollegeFest again this year! Join us next Saturday,...
09/02/2023

is happening NEXT WEEK!

We're excited to be apart of CampusPhilly's CollegeFest again this year!
Join us next Saturday, September 9th, for our back-to-school Saturday Open House. Our museum, housing over 100,000 natural history specimens, will be open for exploration from noon to 4pm.

It's also Pawpaw harvest time and we're featuring the Wagner's favorite crop! As part of the program, Dr. Kate Goodrich from Widener University will give a talk in our historic Lecture Hall about the local, in-season Pawpaw tree. She'll discuss the special relationship between the Pawpaw plant and its pollinator. The Wagner has three trees loaded with fruit and, if they're ripe, we'll have some available to taste too!

You can sign up for this event here: https://loom.ly/Yy6KJfU

Address

1700 W Montgomery Avenue
Philadelphia, PA
19121

Opening Hours

Tuesday 9:30am - 4:30pm
Wednesday 9:30am - 4:30pm
Thursday 9:30am - 4:30pm
Friday 9:30am - 4:30pm

Telephone

(215) 763-6529

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A 19th-century museum of 100,000 specimens and free scientific learning

Founded in 1855, the Wagner Free Institute of Science is dedicated to providing free public education in science. Its programs include free courses and lectures, field trips and lessons for children and museum tours for all ages. The evening science courses are in their 157th year, making them the oldest program devoted to free adult education in the United States. The Institute also has a strong commitment to children’s science education and offers a range of programs for school groups and through partnerships with neighboring schools and community groups.

The Wagner Institute’s nineteenth century exhibit hall – a soaring three-story space – houses an extraordinary collection of natural history specimens including mounted birds and mammals, fossils, rocks and minerals, insects, shells, dinosaur bones, and the first American saber-toothed tiger, discovered on a museum-sponsored expedition to Florida in 1886. Gathered largely by founder William Wagner and Institute curators and faculty during the nineteenth century, the collections are displayed in cherry-wood and glass cabinets dating from the 1880s and maintain their original “systematic” scheme, providing a rare view of a Victorian science museum.

Highlights include William Wagner’s personal mineral collection – one of the oldest in the country – and his fossil collection, representing many important European and American localities and collecting sites of the nineteenth century. The mounted skeletons, skulls and skins represent species from around the globe, including many that are now endangered. The extensive regional entomology collection is notable for its arrangement, which includes the original handwritten curator’s labels.

Originally assembled to teach science, the specimens are arranged for study. The exhibit is one of the largest systematically arranged collections on display in the country and remains in active use as a key educational tool of the Institute’s free science programs. It also serves as a resource for scholarly research.


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