Founded in 1812, the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University is a leading natural history museum dedicated to advancing research, education, and public engagement in biodiversity and environmental science. Visitors to the Academy have the opportunity to get face-to-face with towering dinosaurs, meet live animals, and explore a tropical garden filled with live butterflies. Philadelphia’s natural history museum offers surprises for all ages, from changing interactive science exhibits to a children’s discovery center, a fossil dig, and opportunities to interact with real science experts.
The Academy’s working scientists spend their days focusing on critical global issues in biodiversity, evolution, and environmental science. In the field, Academy scientists have traveled as far as Vietnam to sample wild bird populations for emerging diseases such as avian influenza, and closer to home they have been studying the effects of natural gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale. These research efforts and many others enable the Academy to provide accurate, real-time scientific information to the public on environmental and sustainability matters.
The Academy’s collections contain more than 18 million specimens and archival treasures and rate among the world’s most significant in terms of geographic, biological, and historical depth and breadth. Many specimens in the Academy’s collections predate the institution’s founding and reflect the work of famous naturalists and scientists, including Thomas Jefferson, John James Audubon, Meriwether Lewis, and William Clark. This “library of life” records the extraordinary diversity of life on Earth and preserves a long-term record of environmental change.
In 2011, Academy CEO George W. Gephart, Jr., and Drexel University President John A. Fry announced the completion of a historic affiliation between the Academy and Drexel. This unique affiliation unites two of Philadelphia's most respected research institutions and promotes discovery, learning, and civic engagement in the natural and environmental sciences.