LAWRENCE – The University of Kansas Natural History Museum has recently been named the top natural history museum among public universities by Best College Reviews. The rankings can be found in the article “The 30 Most Amazing Higher Ed Natural History Museums”. The museum at KU placed fourth behind private museums at the universities Yale, Harvard, and Drexel.
The museum is located in Dyche Hall, the second oldest building on campus, which was named after early KU naturalist and explorer Lewis Lindsay Dyche. The museum is also apart of the Biodiversity Institute, a research center dedicated to the study of the life of the planet.
“We educate the next generation of biodiversity scientists,” said Director Leonard Krishtalka. “And they go on to get the best jobs in the country”.
The museum features four floors of public exhibits and offers hands on learning to engage a wide range of spectators through science and nature. Home to nearly 9 million specimens and over 1.2 million archaeological artifacts, the museum features the largest uninterrupted diorama in the world, the panorama, which was Kansas’ entry in the 1893 world’s fair. Krishtalka says this accomplishment is due to the hard work and determination of everyone involved.
“We have the most brilliant scientist, students, the future scholars and problem solvers and staff, and our board in the country,” said Krishtalka. “Their finally getting their due and their thank you for their terrifically hard work their terrifically dedicated work their innovation, their sense of risk”.
The museum has many plans set in the near future to add and build to their already large collection of exhibits. They are currently in progress of excavating and building an entire skeleton of t-rex. They also plan to install a paleogarden, which will feature plants that grew anywhere from 800 to 100 million years ago. The museum is also in the works to preserve and restore the panorama. After sitting in a non-air conditioned room with harsh lighting for so many years, the museum staff is looking to restore it. After research, it is estimated to cost roughly $500,000 to save and conserve it, which the museum is hoping to raise the money for.
“We want to re-imagine the panorama for 21st century audiences. What can it teach the visitor beyond the fact that this animal or plant lives in this habitat,” said Krishtalka. “We don’t want to change it much because it is a historic treasure, but we do want to re-imagine it in non-invasive ways that make it much more informative”.
The museum is open Tuesday through Saturday from 9am to 5pm and Sundays from Noon to 4pm. Admission is $5 for adults, $3 for seniors and Children 6 to 18 years of age. Access is free for children under the age of 6, KU students and staff, and museum members.