The University of Kansas Natural History Museum & Biodiversity Research Center in Lawrence, Kansas offers 4 floors of natural history exhibits in a hundred year old limestone building. However, as of the spring of 2011, the top floor of exhibits is closed for renovation.
For more than 140 years, scientists and students from the Natural History Museum and Biodiversity Research Center have collected and studied life on Earth. The museum has more than eight million specimens of plants and animals, including prehistoric and living species gathered from every continent and ocean. Their collections include DNA samples, sound recordings, images, and field notes.
The main floor of the Natural History Museum is largely taken up with a diorama with several multiple environmental habitats and mounted animals which were prepared by the University of Kansas professor Lewis Lindsay Dyche for the 1893 Chicago World's Fair. The building housing the KU Natural History Museum was built to be the permanent home of the collection in 1903. The building was renamed Dyche Hall after his death and is now on the National Registry of Historic Buildings. Over the years, the University of Kansas added animals from Mexico and the Arctic, so the display now represents all of North America.
The University of Kansas Natural History Museum is open Tuesday through Saturday from 9 AM - 5 PM and Sundays from Noon - 5 PM. Thirty minute behind the scenes tours are available with reservations made three weeks in advance for groups up to ten people.
Behind-the-Scenes tours of the Biodiversity Research Center are available subject to staff availability. Tours last approximately 30 minutes and are appropriate for all ages. Reservations are required three weeks in advance and tours are limited to groups of no more than ten people. To request a tour, please contact the Visitor Services Coordinator, Tristan Smith, at (785) 864-2380.
The Natural Selections Gift Shop has a selection of museum souvenirs, educational toys, games, books and a variety of unique merchandise. The Natural History Museum gift shop is open the same hours as the museum.
One of the most popular exhibits at the KU Natural History Museum is Comanche, the US Seventh Cavalry horse that survived the Battle of the Little Bighorn. When the burial party arrived at the battlefield, 2 days after the battle, 14 year old Comanche was the only living creature remaining. Although Comanche had been struck by 7 bullets, he recovered, toured much of the country and eventually retired at Fort Riley where he lived to the age of 29. Like the mounted animals in the huge diorama, Comanche was exhibited at the 1893 Chicago World's Fair.
copyright 2005-2011 by Keith Stokes