Fernbank Museum of Natural History
|Location||767 Clifton Road NE
|Director||Susan E. Nuegent|
|Website||Fernbank Museum of Natural History|
Fernbank Museum of Natural History, in Atlanta, is a museum that presents exhibitions and programming about natural history that are meant to entertain as well as educate the public. Its mission is to encourage a greater appreciation of the planet and its people. Fernbank Museum has a number of permanent exhibitions and regularly hosts temporary exhibitions in its expansive facility, designed by Graham Gund Architects. Giants of the Mesozoic, on display in the atrium of Fernbank Museum, features a 123-foot (37 m) long Argentinosaurus (the largest dinosaur ever classified) as well as a Giganotosaurus. The permanent exhibition, A Walk Through Time in Georgia, tells the twofold story of Georgia's natural history and the development of the planet. Fernbank Museum has won several national and international awards for one of its newest permanent exhibitions, Fernbank NatureQuest, an immersive, interactive exhibition for children that was designed and produced by Thinkwell Group. The awards NatureQuest has won include the 2012 Thea Award for Outstanding Achievement for a Museum Exhibit and the 2011 Bronze Award for Best Museum Environment from Event Design. The nearby Fernbank Science Center is a separate organization operated by the DeKalb County Board of Education and is not affiliated with Fernbank Museum of Natural History (Fernbank, Inc.).
In the late 1800s, a nature-lover named Emily Harrison grew up in an area east of Atlanta which she called "Fernbank". Along with others, Harrison created a charter for Fernbank in 1938 and purchased the 70 acres (280,000 m2) of woodland on which Fernbank Museum now stands. In 1964, the Fernbank trustees and the DeKalb County School System created Fernbank Science Center, which led to a desire to share Fernbank's resources with the general public.
Following master planning and designs by the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based architectural firm, Graham Gund Architects, ground was broken in 1989, and on October 5, 1992, Fernbank Museum of Natural History opened to the public. The new building is carefully located behind a row of historic houses, and features a glass-enclosed atrium overlooking Fernbank Forest. Fernbank Museum now stands on 65 acres (260,000 m2) of the largest old-growth urban Piedmont forest in the country.
Fernbank Museum offers a variety of exhibits exploring many different natural history topics. Exhibits include:
- Fernbank NatureQuest
- Dinosaur Plaza
- Giants of the Mesozoic
- A Walk Through Time in Georgia
- Reflections of Culture
- Conveyed in Clay: Stories from St. Catherines Island
- Sensing Nature
- Curator's Corner
- World of Shells
The museum also has an area where special exhibitions are cycled through. These exhibits tend to stay open to the public for 2-4 months each.
In 2016 the museum opened WildWoods, an accessible 10-acre area located directly behind the museum with trails and interactive exhibits. In 2016 Fernbank also opened access to the newly restored, 65-acre Fernbank Forest.
Giant screen theatre
Fernbank is home to the Rankin M. Smith, Sr. Giant Screen Theater. Formerly an IMAX theater, upgrades were completed in February 2017 including a digital 4K 3D laser-illuminated projection system.
Fernbank engages the community with an array of special activities for adults and children including summer camps, lectures, workshops, interactive conversations, family activity days, and storytelling.
One of Fernbank’s most popular events, Fernbank After Dark runs the second Friday of each month, January through November, and features movies in the giant screen theater, drinks, food and live music.
F.U.N Volunteer Program
Fernbank Museum of Natural History offers a year-round volunteer program for children aged 13-17. F.U.N. (Fernbank UItimate Naturalist) Volunteers interact with museum guests while working on educational carts throughout the museum, exploring a wide range of natural history topics, including Archaeology, Paleontology, Anatomy, and more.
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