Ever walked down off campus around Montgomery and 17th and wondered what that beautiful, big, old building is?
Its name is the Wagner Free Institute of Science. Frozen in time, the collection hasn’t been updated since the 1940s, and the whole place smells like old wood (in the best way).
The downstairs has a library and an enormous lecture hall where Wagner used to give free lectures to community members and scholars alike who took an interest in the natural sciences.
The upstairs is an enormous exhibit hall with cases upon cases of found species. Identified by handwritten cards detailing species information, the museum is stuffed with shells, rocks, starfish, crustaceans, insects, birds, snakes (and even a human skeleton).
The collection is impressive, and even if you don’t consider yourself a “nature person,” some of the specimens were so beautiful it was like walking through an art gallery. The one downside is that you’re not allowed to take pictures, so you have to go see it for yourself.
It’s fun, it’s close, it’s free, and you can spend as much or as little time as you want (I went with on a class field trip, and none of us were ready to leave after half an hour). Take an afternoon and check it out- worst case scenario, you can still get Rita’s on the way home.