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Philadelphia’s Academy of Natural Sciences Marks Its 200th Birthday

(A dinosaur model at the Academy of Natural Sciences, on Logan Circle, gets a birthday hat in honor of the institution's 200th anniversary.  Credit: John McDevitt)

(A dinosaur model at the Academy of Natural Sciences, on Logan Circle, gets a birthday hat in honor of the institution’s 200th anniversary. Credit: John McDevitt)

John McDevitt John McDevitt
John McDevitt has been a reporter and editor at KYW Newsradio 1060...
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By John McDevitt

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The oldest natural history museum in the nation is right here in Philadelphia, and it’s celebrating its 200th year this month.

A new bicentennial exhibition is opening to the public this weekend at the Academy of Natural Sciences, now a part of Drexel University.

“The Academy at 200: The Nature of Discovery” has samplings of the academy’s 17 million specimens — from the full mounted skeleton of an Irish elk that walked the earth 10,000 years ago, to colorful insects and shells.

You can also meet the scientists currently working on field projects.  One of them, David Keller, is looking at the environmental impact of natural gas drilling in Pennsylvania.

keller w exper  mcdev Philadelphias Academy of Natural Sciences Marks Its 200th Birthday

(David Keller shows a child-friendly display explaining his research. Credit: John McDevitt)

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“The Marcellus Shale is a formation the country wants to mine for natural gas production,” Keller explains.  “We are picking areas that have no drilling going on, areas that have some drilling, and areas that have a lot of drilling, and we are going to the streams of those areas and we are sampling the fish, the salamanders, the crayfish.”

The results of the findings are expected to start coming in toward the end of the year.

As it looks toward the future, the museum on Logan Circle says it wants to start putting more of its science and research “on the floor,” for the public to enjoy.