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Academy of Natural Sciences to Celebrate Bicentennial in 2012

The yearlong celebration beginning March 21, 2012 will feature a major new exhibition, a national scientific symposium, special programs with noted speakers, public engagement activities, discounted museum admission days, and a new coffee-table book on the Academy’s history.

The Academy of Natural Sciences, Photo by Will Klein

On March 21, 1812, seven amateur naturalists founded the Academy of Natural Sciences, the oldest natural history museum in the Americas. Since then, the Academy has carried out its mission to encourage and cultivate the sciences, exploring the remarkable diversity of the natural world and sharing these discoveries with the public through innovative exhibits, publications and educational programming. In May, the Academy announced plans to affiliate with Drexel University, creating a nationally recognized powerhouse for discovery in the natural and environmental sciences.

The Academy at 200: The Nature of Discovery, March 24 to March 2013. Building on the Academy’s extraordinary collections and 200 years of scientific exploration, this major exhibit celebrates the museum’s groundbreaking discoveries and provides a glimpse into the future of one of the world’s great natural history museums. Visitors will “journey” alongside Academy scientists in search of new species, see rarely displayed Academy treasures, and explore how people impact the environment.

Bicentennial Weekend, March 24 and 25. The bicentennial year officially begins with the opening of a yearlong exhibit about the Academy, plus special appearances, fun hands-on activities, music, games, crafts, and, of course, birthday cake.

SCVNGR Trek in March. A special bicentennial trek using smart phone technology will launch. • Center for Environmental Policy Town Square Series, April 2012 through June 2013. The Academy will host panel discussions and presentations by globally prominent speakers on critical issues of sustainability and the environment.

Academy Travels Afield, May through November 2012. A six-month exhibit at Philadelphia International Airport (between Terminals C and D, ticketed passengers) will highlight the global research of Academy scientists and the Academy’s collection of 17 million animal and plant specimens.

Bicentennial Scientific Symposium, October 11 and 12. Scientists from around the nation will gather to discuss “Biological Diversity: From Evolutionary Origins to Ecosystem Functionality.” The symposium will have a component for the general public as well.

Cuisine from the Collections in October. Noted area chefs will prepare a fun and funky dinner featuring a menu based on the wide range of species in Academy collections including birds, insects and shellfish.

Women in Natural Sciences 30th Anniversary in November. A celebration will mark the 30th anniversary of WINS, the Academy’s highly successful competitive science-education, life-skills mentoring program for Philadelphia public high school girls.

Bicentennial Gala March 2013. The celebration comes to a close with a black-tie party celebrating the Academy’s future while honoring the significance of its past.

More information and ongoing updates will be available starting Sept. 3 at

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