New exhibition Marine Life in the Putnam Family Gallery opens Saturday, November 21 at Harvard Museum of Natural History

September 23, 2015

On Saturday, November 21, 2015, the new Marine Life in the Putnam Family Gallery will open at the Harvard Museum of Natural History. The centerpiece of the new Marine Life exhibition – a floor to ceiling re-creation of life in New England’s coastal waters –will immerse visitors in the astounding diversity and dynamic interplay among animals in marine communities just off local shores. As models of glowing jellies, a giant sea turtle, and other sea animals appear to swim above their heads, museumgoers will learn about new research and explore displays of real fishes, mollusks, crustaceans, corals, and other marine organisms selected from the world-renowned collections of Harvard’s Museum of Comparative Zoology.  A special interactive display will introduce visitors of all ages to the amazing world of jellyfish, and the ocean exploration theater will take them on a multimedia journey of discovery into the surface and deep oceans of the world, guided by Harvard biologists.

 "The history of ocean exploration has deep roots within Harvard’s Museum of Comparative Zoology, beginning with the expeditions of Alexander Agassiz on the Blake and the Albatross.  Through the study of organisms in the Museum’s collections and research at sea, Harvard scientists from Agassiz to current faculty, have made important contributions to ocean science. This new exhibit allows the public to see what we are learning about the ocean,” commented Dr. James McCarthy, Professor of Biological Oceanography at Harvard.

Marine Life is made possible by a generous gift from George Putnam III, AB ’73, JD ’77, MBA ’77 and Kathy Putnam. 

"We are incredibly grateful to the Putnam family for their generous gift, which has funded this major exhibition.  Their gift ranks as one of the most significant for the Harvard Museum of Natural History and furthers the ongoing renovation of our facilities, and especially the public galleries, that was begun several years ago,” said James Hanken, Director of the Museum of Comparative Zoology. 

“Marine Life in the Putnam Family Gallery, which includes a spectacular new diorama, will be a centerpiece of the visitor experience here at the Harvard Museum of Natural History.  It provides an unparalleled opportunity for our visitors to explore the mysteries of marine life and helps us achieve our goal of bringing the latest scientific research to the public,” said Jane Pickering, Executive Director of the Harvard Museums of Science & Culture.

The new permanent exhibition is adjacent to the museum’s renovated 1874 Great Mammal Hall with huge sperm, right and fin whale skeletons suspended from the two-story ceiling. Nearby, visitors may explore the intricate Blaschka Sea Creatures in Glass, models of marine invertebrates by the same 19th century glass artisans who created Harvard’s famed Glass Flowers

While the exhibition is on view, the museum will offer related public events. On November 18, Robert Ballard, Director of the Center for Ocean Exploration at the University of Rhode Island will speak on Ocean Exploration Technologies.  On February 8, Jane Lubchenco, professor in marine studies at Oregon State University and former head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) will present Harvard’s 2016 Prather lecture. 

About the Harvard Museum of Natural History

One of the Harvard Museums of Science & Culture, the Harvard Museum of Natural History is located at 26 Oxford Street, Cambridge, on the Harvard campus, a 7-minute walk from the Harvard Square Red Line MBTA station. The museum is wheelchair accessible. The museum is open from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, 361 days/year. Admission: adults $12; seniors and students, $10; youth ages 3–18, $8; under 3 free. For directions, exhibition schedules, lectures, and information on parking, see the website or call 617.495.3045.

#                #                #

Media Contact:  Blue Magruder, Director of Public Affairs
Harvard Museums of Science & Culture
See also: Press Release