Celebrate nature with 10th annual ButterflyFest Sept. 19

September 3rd, 2015

The “Wings Over Florida” butterfly viewing program awards certificates at six achievement levels.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Florida Museum of Natural History visitors will have the opportunity Sept. 19 to learn about “Connections to Nature,” the theme for this year’s 10th annual ButterflyFest.

Featuring live butterfly releases, workshops, entertainment and activities for all ages, the free event from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. will focus on healthy interactions with nature, including information on biodiversity and environmental conservation, management and sustainability.

One new activity this year features the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s launch of a butterfly component to its “Wings Over Florida” program. The new program, which previously focused solely on birding, includes six certificates awarded based on butterfly-watching achievement.

Florida Museum and FWC representatives will unveil the program during a brief ceremony at 1 p.m.

“We are extremely excited about the program,” said Jaret Daniels, associate curator and (more…)

UF ‘Creative B’ free movie series begins with ‘Them!’ July 10

June 19th, 2015

Them-PosterGAINESVILLE, Fla. — Visitors can find out how science meets movie magic during a month of free film screenings at the Florida Museum of Natural History.

Beginning with “Them!” (1954) on July 10, the Florida Museum will host an opening reception at 6 p.m. with light hors d’oeuvres. The museum will be open to the public from 6-10 p.m. and show movies on Fridays during July as part of the University of Florida “Creative B” program. UF students receive free admission to the “A T. rex Named Sue” exhibit with a valid Gator 1 card.

The series includes a question-and-answer panel discussion on the balance between science and art beginning at 7 p.m., followed by the movie.

“The Creative B theme for 2015 is ‘ethics of science, art and movies,’ so we are exploring how movies sometimes use pseudoscience to enhance the experience and (more…)

Brownie, Junior Girl Scout butterfly program set for May 1

April 15th, 2015

Emily Winters, production assistant in the “Butterfly Rainforest” exhibit, shows Scouts from various troops an owl butterfly during the 2014 “Girl Scouts Explore: Botany” program.
Florida Museum of Natural History photo by Kristen Grace

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Girl Scouts are invited to participate in an evening exploration of butterflies and moths from around the world at the Florida Museum of Natural History’s “Girl Scouts Explore: Lepidoptera” program May 1.

The program from 6 to 9 p.m. offers Brownie and Junior Girl Scouts the opportunity to learn how to identify, classify and pin butterfly specimens that will be added to the museum’s collections. By completing the program, Scouts may earn a museum logo patch with an accompanying “Lepidoptera” bar specially designed for the event.

“This event will provide Girl Scouts with a wonderful opportunity to not only learn about butterflies and moths first-hand, but also to interact with women in the science field and researchers with the ‘Butterfly Rainforest’ and the McGuire Center for Lepidoptera and Biodiversity,” said Florida Museum educator Amber Hodges.

During the program, Scouts will explore the “Wall of Wings” and (more…)

Earth Day event April 18 to feature geocaching activity

April 8th, 2015

Earth-Day-LogoPollinator plant sale April 17-19 includes early opening Sunday

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Visitors can experience the awe of nature during the Florida Museum of Natural History’s Earth Day celebration April 18 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The event also features a large pollinator-friendly plant sale April 17-19 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. including extended hours on Sunday.

The event offers an opportunity to observe diverse specimens from the museum’s vast collections and includes outdoor activities in the adjacent University of Florida Natural Area Teaching Laboratory.

New this year, UF’s George A. Smathers Map and Imagery Library will provide visitors with GPS devices to help locate available geocaches around the Cultural Plaza.

“The museum is like an iceberg, and (more…)

Dig into geology at ninth annual ‘Can You Dig It?’ March 14

March 3rd, 2015
Children play with an augmented reality sandbox, which demonstrates how 2-D topographic maps show the 3-D shape of the land, during the 2013 "Can You Dig It?" event. Florida Museum of Natural History photo by Kristen Grace

Children play with an augmented reality sandbox, which demonstrates how 2-D topographic maps show the 3-D shape of the land, during the 2013 “Can You Dig It?” event.
Florida Museum of Natural History photo by Kristen Grace

Editors: A complete list of activities follows this release

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Florida Museum visitors will have the opportunity to uncover Earth’s geological wonders by observing simulated volcanic eruptions, sifting for minerals and gems and other activities during the ninth annual “Can You Dig It?” event March 14 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

This free, family-friendly event provides visitors an understanding of Earth’s materials and processes through hands-on activities and educational demonstrations.

“It’s not just a walk-by-and-look-see kind of event,” said program organizer Matt Smith, a senior lecturer and undergraduate advisor in the University of Florida department of geological sciences. “People who come tend to spend some time and really engage.”

The latest additions to this year’s list of activities include learning how to identify real meteorites from impostors and (more…)

Visiting Phi Beta Kappa scholar to present free dinosaur lecture Feb. 16

February 12th, 2015

Timothy Rowe

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The Florida Museum of Natural History will host a free presentation with paleontologist Timothy Rowe at 7 p.m. Feb. 16 as part of the 2014-2015 Phi Beta Kappa Visiting Scholars Program.

Rowe will present a lecture titled “What Happened to the Dinosaurs?” at Powell Hall, 3215 Hull Road, on the University of Florida campus. His talk complements the museum’s current featured exhibition, “A T. rex Named Sue,” which presents the story of the largest, most complete and best-preserved Tyrannosaurus rex ever discovered. A reception will follow the presentation.

The J. Nalle Gregory Regents Professor of Geology at the University of Texas at Austin, Rowe primarily studies the evolution and (more…)

‘Passport’ gala Feb. 20 to support student programs

January 28th, 2015

PassportGAINESVILLE, Fla. — Prepare for a dizzying race around the globe and join the Florida Museum of Natural History for a thrilling quest at the “Passport to: Around the World in 80 Days” gala Feb. 20 from 7 to 11 p.m.

This year’s event features dinner catered by Blue Water Bay, the ultimate voyage created by Keith Watson Productions and dancing with The Savants of Soul. This is the first year the gala is raising funds for children’s educational programming through the museum’s Center for Science Learning.

“We want to offer a variety of engaging opportunities that foster students’ sense of wonder and discovery,” said Betty Dunckel. Florida Museum Center for Science Learning director. “We hope these experiences will generate excitement, expand interests and deepen understanding of science and its importance in our daily lives.”

Proceeds will provide critical funds to support museum projects for pre-K through 12th-grade students, including admission assistance for Title 1 schools, outreach to elementary classrooms and (more…)

‘T. rex Named Sue’ Jan. 24 opening features fossils, family fun with Ronald McDonald, UF mascots Albert & Alberta

January 16th, 2015
Sue cast

Visitors to “A T. rex Named Sue” view a fully articulated cast skeleton of the dinosaur.
© The Field Museum

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The Florida Museum of Natural History will celebrate the opening of its new featured exhibit “A T. rex Named Sue” from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 24 with family fun including a fossil dig and other dinosaur-themed activities.

Visitors will have the opportunity to interact with museum researchers and representatives from fossil clubs, sample McDonald’s iced coffee while meeting Ronald McDonald, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., and see University of Florida mascots Albert and Alberta from noon to 1 p.m.

“Because our state was underwater while dinosaurs lived, this is a rare chance for Floridians to glimpse the lost world of Tyrannosaurus rex right here in Gainesville,” said Florida Museum educator Tiffany Ireland. “It’s also important for children to speak with scientists and (more…)

View personal collections at 36th Collectors Day Jan. 10

December 11th, 2014
PEZ dispensers are one of the many collections to be displayed during the Florida Museum's 34th Collectors Day Saturday Jan. 12. Photo by Jeff Gage

PEZ dispensers are one of the many collections that have been displayed during the Florida Museum’s Collectors Day.
Florida Museum of Natural History photo by Jeff Gage

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Collectors can share their passion with Florida Museum of Natural History visitors during Collectors Day Jan. 10, 2015, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

This free event is the museum’s longest-running public program and allows visitors to interact with regional collectors and learn about the identity, history and context of their collections.

“A collection is a representation of someone’s time in their life,” Florida Museum educator Tiffany Ireland said. “We’ve had collectors as old as 4 and as young as 80.”

Visitors will have the opportunity to view more than 100 collections, some containing objects that are more than a century old. More than 1,300 visitors attended the 2014 event.

Returning fan-favorites include antique and primitive tools, classic cars, plastic models, paintings of World War II fighter planes, dolls, James Bond merchandise and (more…)

Trashformations art competition winners on display Nov. 22-Dec. 1

November 5th, 2014
Trashformations winner

Sarah Boon won third place in the middle school division of the 2012 Trashformations art competition for her piece “Beauty in the Beast.”
Florida Museum of Natural History photo by Kate Martin

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — One man’s trash will be another man’s treasure during the 16th annual Trashformations student recycled art competition awards ceremony at the Florida Museum of Natural History from 5:30 to 8 p.m. Nov. 21.

Middle school, high school and college students are eligible to enter the contest, which requires entries contain at least 70 percent recycled materials. The application deadline is Nov. 14, and entries must be delivered to the Florida Museum on Nov. 20 between noon and 5 p.m.

“Trashformations showcases the museum’s commitment to sustainability in our practices and exhibitions,” said Florida Museum educator Tiffany Ireland.

Judges select winners based on creative expression and innovative use of reused materials. Students in each level compete for cash and other awards, and the Florida Museum will display winning entries through Dec. 1.

The Florida Museum hosts the Trashformations awards ceremony in collaboration with the Alachua County Board of County Commissioners and Office of Waste Alternatives.

Patrick Irby, an Alachua County waste alternative specialist, said discarded materials, either buried or burned, impact human lives every day. Buried garbage can leak into soil and (more…)