University of Michigan Museum of Natural History to reopen April 14

By Meredith Bruckner - Community News Producer

The mastodon couple in the East Atrium in U-M's new Biological Sciences Building on Aug. 24, 2018 (Photo: Meredith Bruckner)

ANN ARBOR - Pumas, mastodons and pterosaurs, oh my!

The University of Michigan's Museum of Natural History announced today its official reopening to the public on Sunday, April 14.

Housed in a brand-new, state-of-the-art learning facility, many elements of the museum -- including exhibits -- will be new, but favorite displays and specimens will be on view as well.

Part of U-M's College of Literature, Science, and the Arts, the museum -- originally housed in the Ruthven Building -- closed in December 2017 to move to its current location just across the plaza. The Biological Sciences Building is a $261 million, 312,000-square-foot teaching and research facility.
 
Some of its newest features include a high-tech planetarium and dome theater; a 25-foot, "flying" Quetzalcoatlus pterosaur in the building's atrium; an interactive "Tree of Life" multimedia display; a Fossil Prep lab; and the Student Showcase -- an area that features U-M undergraduate research projects.

Additional exhibits will open in late 2019.
 
"This is such an exciting time for the museum," Amy Harris, director of the natural history museum, said in a statement. "We're looking forward to seeing our visitors' faces as they discover old friends such as the mastodon couple in their new home, or meet our new dinosaur, Majungasaurus, for the first time. It is an important moment for the university and the community at large, and we look forward to sharing our new space with everyone."

Two 70-year-old puma sculptures welcome visitors at the building's entrance. Once inside, visitors are greeted by the iconic mastodon couple along with prehistoric whale skeletons. Guests can enjoy touching real specimens, including a T. rex skull, and exploring 4 billion years of evolution and history of life on Earth.

The Biological Sciences Building opened to students in September 2018. In addition to the museum, it houses classrooms, administrative offices, research labs and a café fittingly called Darwin's.

"We were very intentional about locating the museum within the Biological Sciences Building," Chris Poulsen, associate dean of natural sciences and professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at LSA and the Department of Climate and Space Sciences and Engineering at U-M's College of Engineering, said in a statement.
 
"At U-M, we are strongly committed to breaking down barriers to create a space for science to be interactive, engaging and transcendent. This is a very exciting and historic moment for us, our students and visitors from around Michigan and the world."
 
The building houses two other museums: the research museums of Paleontology and Zoology, which serve research and teaching purposes and are not open to the public.

The Museum of Natural History's roots go back to 1837, with the university's first natural history collections. Since 1841, these collections have been on public display.

The natural history museum is free and open to the public. 

It is located at 1105 N. University Ave.

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