Explore nature, science, and cultures with your whole family!
Immerse yourself in the stunning SciDome Theater, soaring across the universe to the center of the earth. Every show includes a brief tour of the night sky.
Discover the natural world in the Museum’s permanent exhibits—from live animals and interactive exhibits in the Nature Explorer Gallery to the fascinating birds and fossils in the Cabinet Museum.
Explore a variety of fun topics in our featured exhibits. The North Museum hosts two to three temporary shows each year from museums across North America.
Get your hands on the real world with our diverse collections. We have birds, mammals, lower vertebrates, invertebrates, plants, Native American artifacts, rocks and minerals, and fossils--more than 300,000 objects in all.
Come to the North Museum and let your inner scientist come out to play!
Schedule through August 28, 2016. Programs and show times are subject to change.
A Full-dome Digital Theater, created by Spitz, Inc., the world’s leading supplier of planetariums, serves as the centerpiece of the North Museum of Nature and Science. The SciDome XD Touch digital system projects high definition video and images onto a 41-foot aluminum NanoSeam™ dome, immersing you in a dazzling 21st-century science learning lab. The North Museum is the first museum in the world to have a Spitz SciDome XD Touch system with cove-mounted projectors.
Mike Smith (aka Cosmic Mike®)
Cosmic Mike is the Senior Astronomy Educator at the North Museum, with a passion for sharing his knowledge of astronomy.
Our exhibitions provide a playground for your inner scientists–from paleontologists (fossils) to zoologists (animals) to geologists (rocks). The Museum has three floors of exhibitions loaded with things to see and do.
The Explore Nature Gallery combines two of the Museum’s most popular attractions, the former Discovery Room and Live Animal Room. The space incorporates the glass-walled honeybee hive, live animals, assorted artifacts, hands-on activities, and flooring that helps illustrate the topography of the Susquehanna River Basin. Come play with nature!
In the Cabinet Museum, antique cases house a wide variety of birds, fossils, and minerals to illustrate the natural history of the Lower Susquehanna Region. This amazing assortment of specimens represents just a fraction of the Museum’s collections. Scavenger hunts and engaging displays encourage discovery in the lowest level of the Museum.
Dinosaurs in Lancaster, Pa! The new “Explore the Past” exhibit is an exciting addition to the North Museum. This exhibit features a full size reconstructed dinosaur, a restored view of Pennsylvania 200 million years ago, and many dinosaur skulls. Get hands-on! During a visit to the Museum visitors can handle real fossils and bones in the interactive Paleontology Zone. With an in-depth look at T. rex, (the tyrant lizard king) as it really lived, and the opportunity to get up close to ancient life, this exhibit is sure to please dinosaur lovers young and old.
Uncover a hidden world of color in the North Museum's latest exhibit, the "Rock Box. Designed in partnership with local company, ATOMIC, this 7-foot-tall, three-dimensional exhibit describes the science behind light.
The "Rock Box" exhibit allows visitors to view these hidden wavelengths through a combination of curated specimens, from the Museum's own geology collections, and ultraviolet light. In this specially designed dark room guests control buttons that activate bursts of infrared light. This light interacts with the carefully chosen minerals to produce a vibrant fluorescent display.
Highlighting the ‘A’ in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math).The Museum’s new STEAM Art Gallery is dedicated to the work of local artists whose art is inspired by science and nature. An interactive scavenger hunt activity is included on this level to engage visitors of all ages. Art installations rotate on a regular basis.
Current Artists, January – July, 2016
Deborah Diana, Lancaster, PA, Mixed Media
Mark and Tom Usciak, Lancaster, PA, Photography
Noelle Turco, Lancaster, PA, Mixed Media
The North Museum’s scientific collections are a combination of specimens collected in the 1800’s by the Linnaean Society of Lancaster County and other naturalists, objects from Franklin & Marshall College’s collections, and numerous private donations. The 360,000-plus artifacts preserve the natural heritage of the Lower Susquehanna Region and beyond. There is a good representation of traditional disciplines of biology, paleontology, geology, and anthropology materials. These extensive collections represent an incredible educational asset.
The North Museum has an outstanding collection of well over 1,000 mounted birds from eastern North America (including extinct taxa) in addition to numerous bird eggs and a small collection of study skins. Practically all genera are represented. There are examples of present day taxidermy in addition to pre-20th century examples, many of which are on exhibit in the Cabinet Museum.
The North Museum has good representative collections of skull and osteology (bone) specimens from mammals of Pennsylvania and elsewhere. The materials illustrate all the modern orders and many of the families of mammals. The collection also includes whole body specimens of smaller species mounted in plastic, a limited number of study skins, and some attractive and impressive taxidermy mounts, some of which are currently exhibited.
A large sturgeon caught in the Susquehanna is one of the most popular items on display at the North Museum, both for its unusual occurrence and because it represents an example of very early taxidermy. Aside from some comparative specimens, most of the fish, amphibian, and reptile collections are educational examples encased in plastic, as well as some skeletal material.
The animals without backbones collections are quite diverse, ranging from simple sponges to historically important insect collections. Many of the objects are on display. Others are mounted in boxes or plastic, making them available for formal and informal educational purposes. Perhaps the most scientifically important specimens are the land snails. These often ignored animals can be important monitors of changes in land use or environmental disturbances. The North Museum has over 15,000 shells and 16,000 insects, many collected decades ago.
The herbarium, probably the fourth largest in the State of Pennsylvania, documents most local species and their distribution within a regional and historical context. There are other discrete collections, including botanical material from Florida from a period before urbanization. Unusual material includes an extensive collection of seeds; these specimens can be useful for archaeologists analyzing sites that were once occupied by humans.
The archaeology collections include extensive Pennsylvania survey materials discovered by former North Museum Director Dr. W. Fred Kinsey III. These include very early examples of European trade goods obtained by native residents of the region. Combined with donated material from many geographic regions. The Museum's archaeological objects number over 100,000. The Museum has limited collections of tools, containers, textiles, and decorative artwork made by cultures from both the New and Old Worlds. Fragile artifacts are housed in environmentally controlled areas of the Museum’s collections storage space. More recent local artwork (pertaining to natural history and exhibitions) is also retained as part of the Museum’s archives. (The Native American collections are in the process of being reinterpreted and will be back on display in the future.)
Many universities and museums no longer keep examples of rocks and minerals, other than small teaching collections. Microscopy and chemical analysis are now the more common methods of finding the composition of earth materials. In the older tradition, the North Museum holds many thousands of hand samples of rocks and minerals. Many of the most attractive or interesting minerals are on display in the lower level.
Over many decades, donations of local Paleozoic invertebrates and some vertebrate fossil specimens from around the world were made to the paleontology collections. However, the North Museum also preserves very important fossils from the local Kinzers Formation, invertebrates that document a time when many of the familiar animal body plans were first evolving on Earth. Some type specimens in paleontology (those named by scientists as the standard for a species) are housed at the North Museum. Tens of thousands of more common invertebrate fossils from local Paleozoic rocks make up the majority of the fossil collections.