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The Academy’s Turning 200!

detail from the timeline in the Bicentennial exhibit

March 19, 2012

The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University is turning 200 this month and is throwing a fabulous two-day party with bright lights, great music, and late hours on March 24 and 25.

Everyone’s invited, young and old! Bicentennial Weekend marks the official start of the Academy’s yearlong celebration of its 200th anniversary. Founded in 1812, the Academy is the oldest natural history museum in the nation, a world leader in natural science research and a major cultural destination in Philadelphia.

On Bicentennial Weekend, the museum will be open extended hours, from 10 am to 9 pm, with activities, entertainment and food all day long and an evening multimedia light show outside on the front of the building. The indoor events are all free with regular museum admission. The outdoor light show is free.

Here are some of the things to see and do:

  • The opening of The Academy at 200: The Nature of Discovery. Created especially for the Bicentennial, this exhibit builds on the Academy’s extraordinary collections and two centuries of scientific exploration. It celebrates the institution’s groundbreaking discoveries of the past and present and provides a glimpse into the future of one of the world’s great natural history museums. (Appropriate for all ages. On view to March 2013.)
  • Each visitor will get a free collection box that they can decorate at our craft table and take home. Each month visitors can return to the museum and receive a different nature item to put in the box such as a feather or a seashell, depending on the theme of the month.
  • The Diggity Dudes will get families dancing to their funky, funny science-themed music and skits covering topics from pet rocks to disco science experiments to presidential fitness. Saturday at 4 pm and 6 pm and Sunday at noon, 2 p.m. and 4 p.m.
  • Pop-up tours of Dinosaur Hall and the dioramas will reveal the fascinating secrets behind some of the Academy’s most beloved exhibits. Every 30 minutes starting at 10:30 am.
  • Look for costumed Academy figures who played a major role in American science, including Joseph Leidy, Edward Cope, Matthew Henson, Lucy Say, and Ruth Patrick, as they roam the museum.
  • An entertaining five-minute multimedia light show with animated lasers will light up the front of the building with the fascinating story of the Academy's world-renowned collections. Every 30 minutes from 7:30 to 10:30 pm.
  • Go back in time and enjoy the music of a strolling Barbershop Quartet and a ragtime-music automated piano.
  • No birthday celebration is complete without birthday cake and the chance to get your face painted like your favorite Academy animal.
  • Learn about the amazing research and collections of the Academy through interactive science games and activities such as “Lights from Life” about organisms that produce their own light.

Bicentennial Weekend is presented by PECO, an Exelon Company.

For more details, see