Now Open through Jan. 1, 2023
$7 adults | $6.50 Fla. residents, seniors & non-UF college students | $4.50 ages 3-17 | FREE for ages 0-2, UF students & Museum members
Science Up Close, a dynamic exhibition series, showcases the Florida Museum of Natural History’s research and collections in a whole new way. Take a unique look behind the scenes, interact with scientists while they work and explore some of the Museum’s coolest specimens to discover why they are relevant for people today.
In the first themed installment, Fantastic Fossils, come face-to-face with giant dinosaur skeletons, beautiful botanical fossils and ancient microscopic life. Engage one-on-one with researchers and watch them prepare real fossil specimens from the field. See hundreds of unusual fossils from Florida and around the world. Live programming, streaming from the field, touchable objects and interactive technology offer engaging experiences for all ages. Learn more about the process of paleontology and uncover the secrets of past life on Earth! Ticket sales and exhibit entrance close at 4:30 p.m.
A working lab takes visitors behind the scenes to speak with paleontology curators, collections managers, students and volunteers! Discover firsthand what life as a scientist is like, from cleaning and rebuilding fossils to sorting tiny bones from sediment and creating digital reconstructions. Each scientist has a unique research interest, so the on-site activities can vary with every visit!
Tales from the Collections
Check out more than 100 real fossils from the museum’s vertebrate paleontology, invertebrate paleontology and paleobotany collections. Learn the differences among these fields and take a glimpse at never-before-displayed fossils, casts and replicas, including a life-size Triceratops and Albertosaurus! Dive into the world of paleontology with eight themed displays containing specimens and artifacts from the museum collections.
From the Field
Ever wonder what researchers and fossil hunters do while out in the field or in the collections? Experience it directly with interactive livestreaming events from the field! Ask questions, see the cool specimens they find and discover how scientists go digging into the past.
Art and Science
Guests can let out their inner artists in a paleoart interactive while drawing and tracing prehistoric life to take home. A magnified display provides an up-close look at tiny fossils, and a comment wall gives visitors an opportunity to share their stories.
- The museum’s invertebrate paleontology collection features specimens from more than 12,500 sites worldwide. This group includes animals like mollusks, corals and arthropods.
- The entire invertebrate paleontology collection, both catalogued and uncatalogued, is estimated to house around 7.5 million specimens.
- At 500 million years old, fossils from the Burgess Shale are the oldest displayed in the exhibit – and some of the earliest life on Earth! This unique rock deposit is in Canada and famous for containing some of the earliest preservation of soft tissue in fossils.
- Sharks don’t usually leave behind complete fossil skeletons like other animals because their skeletons are mostly made up of cartilage, the material that’s in human ears and noses, and rarely fossilizes.
- Shark teeth, invertebrate and plant fossils can be found throughout the state and don’t require a special permit to keep as part of a collection. However, a Florida Fossil Permit is required to collect other vertebrate fossils on state lands, which include all navigable waterways, and offshore waters.
- Scientists use CT scanning technology to see and create 3D models of the inside of amber and fossils without irreversibly damaging them.
- North and South America were separated by an ocean until about 3.5 million years ago, when the formation of the Panama land bridge led to changes in the distribution of ancient life.
- Fossil molds and casts are 3D impressions of an organism that are typically buried in sediment and do not contain the organism’s actual remains.
Science Up Close: Fantastic Fossils is sponsored in part by the University of Florida Student Government and Florida Division of Arts and Culture. Original versions of the photos used in the featured image are by Eva Kröcher and MCDinosaurhunter, used under CC BY.