College of Science Museum Complex Welcomes Guests for Three Unique Museum Experiences
After extended closures and limited hours due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the three museums that make up the College of Science museum complex all reopened to the public last fall and offer exciting new features and updates. for visitors this winter and spring.
natural History Museum
The Natural History Museum reopened with updates to its existing collections of specimens from the Grand Bassin, some of which date back to the 1850s, and has also hosted new exhibits. The museum has remained open for research and museum director Elizabeth Leger has looked after throughout the pandemic.
“We never stopped working, we just changed the way we work,” said LÃ©ger, professor of biology at the Foundation. The museum has developed virtual tours to expand its audience, with high schools and schools in rural areas gaining virtual access to the museum’s extensive collections. Additionally, the museum was able to serve more students at a time, which made it easier for teachers with large enrollments to get involved.
A new museum feature that local teachers can use is a traveling museum display. Museum staff have developed programs for middle and high school classes and can now introduce students to the museum.
Another exciting opportunity has been the addition of new living specimens to the museum exhibits. The museum has obtained permits for several reptiles, including a rubber boa, garter snakes, fence lizards and alligator lizards as well as blue beetles simulating death. A new tank with a baby Lahontan cutthroat trout made possible by the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the Lahontan National Fish Hatchery Complex, the Lake Tahoe License Plate Program, the Nevada Department of Wildlife and the National Science Foundation was unveiled in late November, and One The Critically Endangered Species Hybrid – the Devil’s Hole puppy raised with the Amargosa puppy – will find a new home at the Natural History Museum by the end of the year. The display of hybrid puppies is made possible by the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Park Service, the Nevada Department of Wildlife, and the National Science Foundation.
The museum also cleaned up so people couldn’t visit in person. Leger said they were able to dismantle the old displays to make room for the new ones, rearrange the collections and replace the foam liners on the cabinets and drawers containing the specimens, which is important for pest control.
âThe pandemic gave us lemons, but we made lemonade,â LÃ©ger said. The museum lobby is open for free self-guided tours Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. More information is available on the museum’s website.
WM Keck Museum of Earth Sciences and Mineral Engineering
The WM Keck Museum of Earth Sciences and Mineral Engineering is ready for visitors to explore its unique collection of fossils, minerals and relics from mining history. The museum is now back to normal hours Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and on the first Saturday of each month the museum is open from 12:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
The Keck Museum has also recently acquired an exciting addition to its collections. The silver collection of Mary Louise and John Mackay has 1,250 pieces, and the museum has just acquired its first new piece since 1959: a hot water kettle. The Mackay Silver collection was designed and produced by Tiffany and Company, and most of the silver comes from the famous Comstock Lode in Virginia City.
Keck Museum curator Garrett Barmore recently developed virtual study programs. The programming extended the reach of the museum, stretching from coast to coast, and Barmore even hosted virtual visitors from the Philippines. Part of this programming includes interactive versions of the museum’s Mineral Monday series, which is a free resource for science teachers and was an official selection at the 2019 Sigma Xi STEM Art and Film Festival and winner of “Best Nevada Film” in the 2020 Sci- Au! Film festival.
Fleischmann Planetarium and Science Center
The Fleischmann Planetarium is the newest addition to the College of Science Museum complex, which officially joined it earlier this year. The planetarium offers daily digital planetarium shows in its full-domed theater, space-themed showroom tours, excursions, and educational activities for groups of all ages.
Public shows are now available on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. The hours are 3:00 p.m. for the Planet program, 4:30 p.m. for the Exploring Space and Time show, 6:00 p.m. for the shows that will be changed monthly and 7:30 p.m. for the special programs.
While the planetarium is first and foremost a science center, director Paul McFarlane wants people to know that “it’s also about education and art.” To provide more options for parents with young children, new family shows are available on Saturday mornings at 9:00 a.m. for the preschool program and at 10:00 a.m. for Space Adventures: Accidental Astronauts.
The Fleischmann Planetarium is open seven days a week for pre-booked programs and field trips. Tickets for public shows are available online or at reception.