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About the Museum of the Earth

Our Founding Institution | Our Building | Our Visitors | Our Exhibits

The Museum of the Earth, founded in 2003 and located in Ithaca’s West Hill area, is a public natural history facility exhibiting one of the nation’s largest fossil collections. Based on the specimens maintained by the Paleontological Research Institution, its 2 million artifacts contain everything from a nationally recognized Paleozoic trilobite, brachiopod, coral to our crinoids collection. In informing its visitors, young and old, of the earth’s interdependence with its residents, it hopes to foster a greater public understanding of the environment, its history, and its future.

About the Paleontological Research Institution

The Paleontological Research Institution (PRI), founded over 75 years ago by retired Cornell Professor Gilbert Harris, concentrates on disseminating information concerning the earth’s history and its evolution to all interested parties. Until the birth of the new building in 2003, PRI housed both researchers and Museum of the Earth exhibits within its gray-stoned foundations. However, it continues to provide MOTE with raw materials, volunteers and educational staff. In addition to the research conducted by its staff members, PRI also publishes two paleontological research journals, Bulletin of American Paleontology and American Paleontologist.

About the Building

Situated in Ithaca New York, between Ithaca College and Cornell University overlooking downtown Ithaca and facing the downtown area, the Museum rests in an external body of steel and glass. The 18,000 square foot building, added to the Paleontological Research Institute complex, has had over 80,000 visitors since its opening in 2003. The 11 million dollar structure encompasses large-scale exhibits, a 500-foot long mural, an eight-ton right whale frame, several audiovisual theaters, multiple discovery stations, a public specimen preparation lab and the 12, 000 year old Hyde Park Mastodon skeleton. According to Patricia Kelley, past president of PRI’s Board of Directors, the museum is clearly ‘for using and not merely looking’! The Museum remains open on all weekdays (excluding Tuesday) and Saturday from ten until five pm and on Sunday from eleven until five pm.

About Our Educational Outreach

The Museum has provided around 300 interactive presentations to over 7,600 students every year. To strengthen its community connection while fostering scientific curiosity amongst its visitors and local residents, it annually celebrates National Earth Science Week in October, Earth Day in April and hosts various field trips in the central New York region and the northeastern part of Pennsylvania. Additionally, it offers customized presentations, talks and trips to public and private audiences. In hosting its many talks and Earth science workshops for instructors in and outside the Tompkins County area, the Museum hopes to serve as a geological hotspot for the Central New York area.

About Our Exhibits

The Museum’s permanent and past exhibits illustrating the earth’s continuous evolution, housed within colors of blue and corridors of wood, include:

  • ‘Skulls and Sketches’, museum specimens juxtaposed alongside a local artist’s sketches
  • a 5 billion year ‘journey through time’
  • multiple fossils extracted from local gorges and waterfalls
  • a hands-on Dino lab encouraging artistic experimentation - what coloring do you think prehistoric dinosaurs possessed?
  • a glacial corridor resembling the earth several hundred thousand years ago
  • over 700 of the Paleontological Research Institute’s specimens
  • and more!
Created by acn22
Last modified 2008-11-12 11:36