The Museum of Natural History is Rhode Island’s only natural history museum and is home to the state’s only public planetarium. For more than a century the museum has served as a unique educational, scientific and cultural resource by offering exciting exhibitions, workshops and presentations that provide ways for children and families to learn about our world and its people.
Only about 1% of the museum’s holdings are on exhibit. The museum’s collections contains over one quarter million objects pertaining to natural and cultural history assembled from sites around the world. The natural history collections include fossils, mollusks, minerals, rocks, mounted flora and fauna. The cultural collections contains over 25,000 archaeological and ethnographic specimens primarily of African, American Indian and Pacific origin.
Circle of the Sea: Re-Visited and Re-Imagined
The Circle of the Sea exhibit, showcasing the museum’s diverse holdings from Oceania – with an astonishingly extreme make-over. The exhibit has an array of objects such as those used in daily life for cooking, clothing, fishing and seafaring- most of which have never been publicly viewed. It also features the major addition of natural history from the region: ornately feathered Birds-of-Paradise, gigantic seabirds and mollusk shells, colorful corals and volcanic geology so pivotal to the Pacific. A visit to Circle of the Sea: Revisited and Re-imagined promises to be a virtual South Seas tropical adventure without even leaving home.
Exhibit was made possible through major funding support from the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities, an independent state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Special thanks to Kirsten Vacca, Guest Curator, for her contributions and expertise.
Images from the Attic: A Photographic Journey through Roger Williams Park
Lobby exhibit opened on Saturday, November 14, 2015.
Designed by Horace Cleveland in 1878, Roger Williams Park was first a 10 acre farm bequeathed to the City of Providence in 1871 by Betsey Williams, a descendent of Roger Williams, founder of Rhode Island. Soon the park grew to encompass 430 picturesque acres laced with curving roads that yielded ever changing vistas. Its landscape has seen buildings, monuments and gardens come and go over the years leaving traces in the hearts and collective memories of the citizens of Rhode Island. This lobby exhibit uses original documents, photographs and artifacts to highlight the history and evolution of Roger Williams Park since it was founded to its heyday in the mid 1900s. The park continues to attract generations of Rhode Islanders as a treasured open space, the jewel in the crown of the Providence Parks system.
Special thanks to Museum Docents and Exhibit Curators: Michael McGinity and Richard Siembab
Natural Selections: Museum’s Victorian Past to the Present
Step back in time and explore what can be learned about the history of collecting in our region through the museum’s own rich and diverse collections. Even today the museum continues to collect new specimens and objects, and its collections are just as important as when the museum first opened in 1896. Discover the remarkable treasures that are housed here, and what a truly unique Rhode Island legacy the museum’s walls encompass in this new exhibit.
New exhibit is made possible through major funding support from the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities, an independent state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Special thanks to: Heather Field, museum docent, for curating the Ethnology display; Steven Lubar, Director of Brown University’s Public Humanities program and his students – Lily Benedict, Hannah Sisk, and Jamie Topper, for curating the Collecting Today display.
Urban Wildlife: Nature at Your Doorstep
(opened Saturday, November 19, 2016)
Human designed landscapes occupy more land than ever before. While often discounted as wastelands devoid of nature, urban areas actually play host to a great diversity of plant and animal life. Acknowledging the diversity of life found in cities is an important step toward understanding the impact humans have on the places they live and work. This exhibit focuses on the wildlife living right here in the city of Providence, and highlights the urban habitats in which they can be found.
Featuring local fauna from the museum’s collections; imagery from Providence Raptors, urban wildlife photography by Peter Green; and videos from Greg Gerritt, activist, writer, videographer and watershed steward for Friends of the Moshassuck. NASA Satellite Imagery of Providence sponsored by the Brown/NASA Northeast Planetary Data Center & the NASA/RI Space Grant Consortium.
Seismic Shifts: Earth through Time
Travel through time to discover the formation of our Earth and its transformation into the habitable world we live on today. From Ice Ages to Hothouse Earth, our planet has seen many changes over its vast history.
Exhibit sponsored by the Brown/NASA Northeast Planetary Data Center & the NASA/RI Grant Consortium.
The Red Planet: Going to Mars
New exhibit opened on July 5, 2016
Of all the planets other than Earth, none have captivated mankind more than Mars. By the 19th century, telescopic observations intrigued the imagination of scientists and writers wondering if Mars supported life and even advanced civilizations. Getting to Mars is hard, landing is even harder still, but getting off the surface of Mars has never been done before and is one of the big engineering challenges of a Martian mission. A crucial element of NASA’s plans is the Mars Ascent Vehicle (MAV), the spacecraft that will blast off from the surface of Mars to begin the astronauts’ journey home. In the spring of 2016, RI School of Design’s Design for Extreme Environments industrial design studio, working with NASA, designed two different concepts for the MAV. Come see these mock-ups and learn more about the red planet in this new exhibit.
Special thanks to Michael Lye, NASA Coordinator & Adjunct Faculty/Senior Critic, and his spring of 2016 Design for Extreme Environments students at Rhode Island School of Design for their contributions. Exhibit sponsored by the Brown/NASA Northeast Planetary Data Center & the NASA/RI Space Grant Consortium.