Harvard Museum of Natural History

The Harvard Museum of Natural History was a pleasant surprise! Not only were there delightful exhibits showing mammals, birds, climate change, and more, but there was another whole museum covered by the cost of admission. The adjacent Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology added amazing Native American exhibits, as well as plenty of exhibits from around the world.

When you think of college museums, often times expectations are lowered and you hope for the best. In this case, we had only planned for about two hours, but could have easily spent much longer!

The Logistics

Location and Directions

Location: The Harvard Museum of Natural History is located at 26 Oxford Street, Cambridge, MA 02138 on the Harvard campus.

Transit: It’s easily accessible by public transit on the Harvard MBTA stop. Parking is possible but a little tricky – street meter parking is limited to 2 hours, and some of the lots are overpriced. Try the SpotHero app.

Cost and Hours

Hours: Open daily from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm. Closed Thanksgiving Day, December 24, December 25, and January 1.

Cost: Adult/Senior/Student/3-18/0-3 $15/$13/$10/$10/Free. Several free options for locals, Harvard students, etc.

Natural History Museum

There are several interesting exhibits in the Natural History Museum; our favorites included various exhibits featuring mammals, birds, fossils, rocks, and more!

Mammals

The collections of “stuffed” mammals and other animals are quite impressive – some probably hunted in the 1800’s. Drawing from locations around the world, there are exhibits that include animals from New England, Asia, Central and South America, and other destinations around the world! The quantity and variety were impressive.

Birds and other Flying things

Leaving mammals, the Natural History Museum has one of the best bird exhibits that I have ever seen. If you want to explore the variations between hundreds of different bird species, don’t miss this section of the museum.

There are also some nice exhibits on butterflies, bats, beetles, and other insects and arthropods.

Sea Creatures

There are also a few exhibits on sea creatures and marine life, although this is not a particular focus of the museum. A more unique exhibit is the sea creatures in glass.

Fossils

While the stuffed mammal exhibits focus on more modern animals, there are plenty of fossils that go much further back in in time. There is are exhibits on prehistoric animals, Cenozoic mammals, and evolution.

Geology

A Natural History Museum would not be complete without an exhibit on geology, and this museum has a great mineral and rock collection. Kids will love the sparkle of the different specimens, and true geology enthusiasts will probably get even more out of the exhibit!

Glass Flowers

One of the more unique exhibits is the one on Glass Flowers. Apparently the museum currators liked the Sea Creatures in Glass exhibit so much, that they decided to create a similar exhibit for flowers!

And there is a lot more to see! Spend some time exploring exhibits on Climate Change, Art Techniques, and More!

Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology

If you finished the Natural History Museum, head into the connected Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology (included with your Harvard Museum of Natural History ticket), and explore cultural heritage from around the world. There are some great exhibits on people groups from North America, Mexico and Central America, and more!

More to Do Near Cambridge and Boston

If you are traveling to Massachusetts and are looking for other museums or exhibits in the Cambridge or Boston area, there are plenty of options! Here a few that we have written about:

Harvard Art Museums

If you are focusing on Cambridge activities, the Harvard Art Museums are just a short walk from the Harvard Museum of Natural History.

The Museum of Fine Arts

A not-to-be-missed museum is Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts! Better known as the MFA, the museum has enough to keep you busy for a full day! My favorite collections are the Egyptian Exhibit, the European Collection, and the Art of the America’s.

The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

Smaller, but still quite impressive, is the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. If you have a couple of hours and want to escape the heat/cold/rain, consider visiting this delightful museum!

The New England Aquarium

If you experience even more heat/cold/rain, the New England Aquarium is another great stop. While it is a bit smaller than other top aquariums around the world, it is still fairly well done and a great stop.

No matter whether you are only visiting Boston and Cambridge, or are exploring all of New England, you will find plenty to keep you occupied!

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