U-M Natural History Museum in Ann Arbor Reopens April 14 Following Move, Expansion

The University of Michigan Museum of Natural History will reopen April 14 and offer more space for new exhibits. // Photograph Courtesy of the University of Michigan Museum of Natural History

The University of Michigan Museum of Natural History in Ann Arbor will reopen in the Biological Sciences Building on April 14. As part of the move to a larger space, the museum will offer new exhibits and a learning facility, as well as displays and specimens from the previous location.

The museum is part of U-M’s College of Literature, Science, and the Arts. It closed in December 2017, moving from the Ruthven Building to its current location across the plaza in the $261-million, 312,000-square-foot building, which also houses classrooms, labs, and offices and opened to students in September 2018. The Biological Sciences Building is located at 1105 N. University Ave.

New features include a 25-foot Quetzalcoatlus pterosaur in the atrium; a planetarium and dome theater; an interactive, multimedia Tree of Life display that illustrates the connections among all living things; the Fossil Prep Lab, where visitors can see how fossils are prepared for study and display; the student showcase, which features research projects from U-M undergraduate students; and more.

Additional exhibits, including one about the natural history of Michigan and another about microbiology, are expected to open in November.

“We’re looking forward to seeing our visitors’ faces as they discover old friends such as the mastodon couple in their new home, or meet our new dinosaur, Majungasaurus, for the first time,” says Amy Harris, director of the museum. “It is an important moment for the university and the community at large, and we look forward to sharing our new space with everyone.”

Two well-known, 70-year-old puma sculptures will be on display at the building’s exterior entrance. The mastodon couple will greet visitors upon entering, and visitors also will see prehistoric whale skeletons while walking through 4 billion years of the history of life on earth.

Darwin’s café will offer food, coffee, and tea.

“We were very intentional about locating the museum within the Biological Sciences Building,” says Chris Poulsen, associate dean of natural sciences and professor at U-M’s Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences and the Department of Climate and Space Sciences and Engineering. “At U-M, we are strongly committed to breaking down barriers to create a space for science to be interactive, engaging, and transcendent.”

The Biological Sciences Building also houses two research museums and the U-M Museums of Paleontology and Zoology, which are focused on teaching and research and not open to the public.

The natural history museum goes back to the university’s first natural history collections that date to 1837. The university’s collections have been on public display since 1841. The museum has more than 165,000 visitors each year and will be free and open to the public upon reopening. Tickets are required for planetarium and dome theater shows.

Hours of operation will be 9 a.m.-5 p.m. every day except Thursday, when the museum will stay open until 8 p.m.