Harvard Museum of Natural History

26 Oxford Street
Daily, 9 am–5 pm

The Harvard Museum of Natural History (HMNH) presents to the public the collections and research of Harvard University’s three natural history institutions: The Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University Herbaria, and the Mineralogical Museum. The HMNH’s mission is to enhance public understanding and appreciation of the natural world and the human place in it, sparking curiosity and a spirit of discovery in people of all ages. To realize the mission, HMNH draws on the vast resources of the Harvard Faculty and on collections numbering close to 21 million specimens. In an effort to showcase more of the vast natural history collections, the HMNH presents special temporary exhibitions with related programming for the whole family. Changing exhibitions include Language of Color, about how animals communicate with color, and Climate Change: Our Global Experiment, in collaboration with the Harvard University Center for the Environment. The newest exhibition is EVOLUTION, showcasing evolutionary research at Harvard.

The HU Herbaria botanical gallery features the internationally acclaimed Ware Collection of Glass Models of Plants. These “Glass Flowers” are a one-of-a-kind collection of over 4,000 models of plants painstakingly and beautifully crafted in glass by Leopold and Rudolph Blaschka, father and son. The project spanned five decades from 1886 to 1936 and culminated in representations of more than 830 plant species.

The zoological galleries display some 4,000 specimens, including dinosaurs, arthropods, and over 500 current day mammals, from the Museum of Comparative Zoology (MCZ), which was founded in 1859 by Louis Agassiz. The MCZ‘s twelve sub-departments—biological oceanography, entomology, herpetology, ichthyology, invertebrate paleontology, invertebrate zoology, mammalogy, marine biology, mollusks, ornithology, population genetics, and vertebrate paleontology—together comprise one of the world’s most extensive holdings for scientifically described materials (type specimens), geographical range, and historical significance. These collections have gained new relevance as human activity increasingly places species and ecosystems at risk.

The Mineralogical and Geological Museum maintains internationally important collections of rocks, minerals, ores, and meteorites that support teaching and research, primarily in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences. The Museum’s extraordinarily comprehensive mineral collections are featured in both systematic and topical displays in the public galleries. Highlights include a 1,642 lb amethyst geode, and Impact, an exhibit of the University’s outstanding collection of meteorites.

Admission to HMNH is free to current Harvard ID holders and one guest. The museum offers a wide array of lectures and programs.

accessWheelchair access through basement entrance of the Museum of Comparative Zoology on Oxford Street and through Tozzer Library on Divinity Ave.

Research collections

The research collections of the Harvard University Herbaria include an extensive collection of Precambrian fossils, dating back 3.5 billion years, and an historically important collection of economic botany materials are also housed in the museum building on Oxford Street. For information about botanical collections, research, and archives, visit the Harvard University Herbaria’s website at www.huh.harvard.edu or call 617-495-2365.

For information about the Museum of Comparative Zoology’s Mayr Library call 617-495-4576. For information about zoological collections, research, and archives, visit the MCZ website at www.mcz.harvard.edu or call 617-495-2460.

For more information about mineralogical and geological collections and archives, visit http://www.fas.harvard.edu/~geomus/ or call 617-495-4758.