Past Exhibits

Islands: Evolving in Isolation

Through November 2016


With bizarre woodpecker-like primates, dwarf humans, and flightless birds over nine feet tall, islands are havens for some of the most unusual creatures on our planet. Why are islands such hotspots of biodiversity and how does evolution work within these isolated pockets of life? Islands: Evolving in Isolation unravels the mysteries of island biodiversity and evolution. Packed with examples from around the globe, the exhibition brings together an enormous array of plant

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Fishes Gallery

Through September 2015

This gallery explores the diversity of fishes from gars to groupers and stonefishes to seahorses. Visitors are invited to rediscover some iconic specimens, including the hammerhead and mako sharks, the massive bluefin tuna, and the prickly porcupine fish, as well as discover new specimens borrowed from the Ichthyology Collections of Harvard's Museum of Comparative Zoology. Fishes combines specimens

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Thoreau's Maine Woods: A Journey in Photographs with Scot Miller

Through February 22, 2015

In commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the publication of Henry David Thoreau’s The Maine Woods, this exhibition features the stunning photographs of Scot Miller, who has traversed the state of Maine for years, retracing the footsteps of Thoreau, New England’s native son. Thoreau’s Maine Woods: A Journey in Photographs with Scot Miller highlights the many places that Thoreau explored and wrote about using finely-crafted photographs, as well as historical information, and specimens from Harvard’s collections, including one-of

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Mollusks: Shelled Masters of the Marine Realm

Through September 8, 2015

Mollusks explores the amazing diversity and history of mollusks–snails, clams, squid, and other invertebrates–that comprise almost a quarter of all known marine species. Featuring the research of Professor Gonzalo Giribet, colleagues and students at Harvard University, and the Department of Malacology at Harvard’s Museum of Comparative Zoology, this exhibition engages the general public in mollusk evolution, ecology, and the many ways in which their lives intersect with ours.

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The Language of Color

Through October 6, 2013

Whether it’s the brilliant blue wings of a butterfly, the scarlet feathers of a tanager, or the stripes of a zebra, animals display color in vastly different ways and for different reasons. Combining dramatic specimens with video presentations, computer interactives, hands-on activities, and a stunning display of live dart frogs, The Language of Color will help visitors understand the nature of color and pattern, how different animals “see” it, and how animal color and its perception have co-evolved to produce the complex and diverse palette of

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Headgear: The Natural History of Horns and Antlers

Through January 18, 2012

Discover how and why horns and antlers evolved through dramatic displays and video presentations illustrating their use in combat. Visitors are invited to touch specimens, compare their body height to the world's largest antlers, and explore horn-like structures in animals such as beetles and dinosaurs. Drawing from the collections of the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology and Harvard's Semitic Museum, the exhibition will also display artifacts fashioned from the horns and antlers of hoofed animals around the world.

For more information see

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Tangible Things: Objects from Other Harvard Collections at the Harvard Museum of Natural History

 January 24 - May 29, 2011

The multi-venue exhibition, Tangible Things: Harvard Collections in World History, prompts viewers to question the ways in which objects are typically classified. Find six objects from other Harvard collections within the Harvard Museum of Natural History’s galleries. These “guest objects” include a dog’s paw-print in mud brick from Mesopotamia dated 1500-1350 BC, on loan from the Semitic Museum; a Tiffany vase from the Harvard Art Museums; and a kidney stone from the

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Domesticated: Modern Dioramas of Our New Natural History Photographs by Amy Stein

January 22 - April 18, 2010

In Domesticated, New York photographer Amy Stein explores the tenuous relationship between humans and other animals through staged scenes inspired by true events in rural Pennsylvania.

Stein was named one of the top fifteen emerging photographers in the world by American Photo magazine. Her work has exhibited at the ClampArt gallery, New York, NY; Robert Koch Gallery, San Francisco, CA; Pool Gallery, Berlin, Germany; and the Paul Kopeikin Gallery, Los Angeles, CA.

For more information see the

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Dodos, Trilobites, & Meteorites…Treasures of Nature and Science at Harvard

Through December 13, 2009

This exhibition showcases never-before-seen treasures from historic expeditions that explored the depths of the oceans, Tibetan mountain peaks, the Brazilian Amazon, America’s western frontier, and other remote environments then unknown to science. It features meteorites and 2 billion-year-old microfossil specimens that offer clues about the formation of the Earth and the origins of its myriad life forms.

Also view a small display of Blaschkas' stunning glass sea creatures including sea anemone, jellies, and slugs.

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Egg & Nest: Photographs by Rosamond Purcell

February 12 - March 15, 2009

World-renowned photographer Rosamond Purcell captures the perfection of eggs and the diversity of bird nests with stunning images from her newest book Egg & Nest. Featuring images of specimens from the ornithological holdings of the Western Foundation of Vertebrate Zoology in California, the exhibition depicts the diverse beauty of eggs, and nests that demonstrate the ingenuity of the birds that build them.

Rosamond Purcell is the author of a number of books, including Owl’s Head and Bookworm. She collaborated with

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Looking at Leaves: Photographs by Amanda Means

May 8, 2008 - February 8, 2009

Dramatic black and white images of single leaves by New York photographer Amanda Means are a monument to the remarkable diversity and beauty of nature's botanical forms. These detailed blow-ups, some printed as large as 38 x 46 inches, were created by using the leaf itself as a photographic negative. The immediacy of the process gives the images an eerie intensity and adds to their compelling beauty.

Raised in rural upstate New York, Means has lived and worked in Manhattan and Woodstock, New York, for 25 years. She is a graduate of Cornell

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Looking at Animals: Photographs by Henry Horenstein

September 28, 2007 - April 27, 2008

With the vision of both an artist and a scientist, acclaimed Boston photographer Henry Horenstein has created haunting images of creatures from land and sea. His photographs offer new ways to see and think about animals, inviting us to look closer and examine details we might have never before noticed.

Henry Horenstein is Professor of Photography at Rhode Island School of Design and author of 30 books. His monographs include Creatures (1999), Aquatics (2001), Humans (2004), and Close Relations (2007).

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Nests & Eggs

May 2007 - August 2008

Nests & Eggs is a HMNH exhibition that draws on the University’s extensive collections. Visitors of all ages will enjoy learning some of the myriad ways that birds nurture and protect their young. The exhibition features stunning displays of egg diversity, showcasing specimens that range in size from the basketball-sized egg of the elephant bird to tiny hummingbird eggs. Visitors can get nose-to-nose with a heath hen and her young hatchlings; and compare the familiar cup-shaped nest of a sparrow, the mud nest of a chimney swift, and the

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