North Museum of Nature and Science: Real Fossils Planetarium

The newly renovated North Museum of Nature and Science is located on the campus of Franklin & Marshall College.ย 

The small hands-on museum is a great stop for families of young and elementary-aged children and takes approximately two hours to go through.

Source: North Museum of Nature and Science

Explore the Past

The basement is filled with cases of taxidermy; mainly birds, but also a wolverine. 

You can see a case filled with different kinds of eggs and compare the tiny egg of a hummingbird to the giant egg of an ostrich. 

Source: North Museum of Nature and Science

There is a full-size dinosaur model on display here. The best part? Visitors are allowed to handle real fossils and bones. My kids enjoyed this activity a lot and gained immense knowledge from this interactive Paleontology Gallery.

Geology Room

It houses a large collection of rocks dating back to Pre-Cambrian time of 4,500 million years ago to the Cenozoic Era of today.

Did you know? The North Museum is south-central PA’s largest planetarium

Rocks like:

  • Malachite
  • Black jasper
  • Native copper
  • Several kinds of meteorites
  • Skeletons of fossil squids
  • The Dichotomous cabinet
  • Even poop from extinct sloths (gross, I know!)

The neatest part of this area was speaking with the museum’s exhibit manager, Molly Wolanski.

She interacted with the kids, and gave them resourceful insights about the exhibits listed at the museum.

Source: North Museum of Nature and Science

My daughter loved the experience and was fascinated the whole time with all the new things she learned about rocks, birds and dinosaurs!

Explore Nature Gallery

The exhibit is all about nature. There are several activities for kids to discover like examining objects under a microscope, exploring discovery boxes filled with oyster and pearls and different types of horns and antlers or putting on a puppet show in the hollow of a tree.

There is a section dedicated to nano and the new exhibit, Dinosaur Discoveries, which will grow in size this fall. 

Source: North Museum of Nature and Science

Live Animal Room

The coolest part on this floor was the live reptile collection.

Staff members allow guests to experience animal counters with a Giant Cave cockroach, Honduran Milk Snake or Blue-tongued skink.

Source: North Museum of Nature and Science

The museum’s live animal room has over 20 different living species for you see and watch. You’ll find:

  • Snakes
  • Lizards
  • Degus
  • Turtles
  • Toads
  • Tarantulas
  • And more

Lego Lab

The Lego Lab exhibit at the museum is perfect for all ages. My son loves Lego, and he built a jet plane using the blocks, it was a proud moment for me ๐Ÿ™‚

kid playing with lego

The Coding Corner

While we did not have the time to check this exhibit, I came to know that there are several activities here, which might change with time so it’s best to check on these before going:

  • Sphero Bots
  • Robot Mouse
  • Solar / Salt-water Powered Robo Cars
  • VR Goggles
  • Pixel Activities
  • Code Gamer

Planetarium

This is the largest Planetarium in South Central Pennsylvania. Currently, they’re showing three shows at the Planetarium:

  • Magic Tree House: Space Mission (Runs on Saturdays and Sundays at 11 AM)
  • Phantom of the Universe (Runs on Saturdays and Sundays at 2 PM)
  • Night Sky Tour – Live Astronomy Show

The theme of the Planetarium changes every month.

Source: North Museum of Nature and Science

My kids found the show to be really amazing and special thanks to the staff who made the show fun, and interactive!

Dinosaur Art & Gift Shop

The third floor comprises the museumโ€™s offices, but also dinosaur artwork from various viewpoints. 

You’ll also find the gift shop there which is stocked with an array of neat, but pricey gifts such as:

Source: North Museum of Nature and Science

  • Dinosaur crayons
  • Nature explorer kit
  • Gold panning kit
  • Excavate a meteorite
  • Create your own reptile nuts and bolts

Good to Know Before You Go

  • Visit the Events page on their website to know what are the current events happening at the museum.
  • You can book Group Experiences at the museum by filling out the Group Reservation form from the website. This is beneficial when you’re planning a school field trip.
  • There’s only one lunch location at the museum that accommodates about a group of 50.
Source: North Museum of Nature and Science

  • There’s also a gift shop at the museum where you can buy unique gifts for kids as well as adults.
  • The museum also offers a variety of STEM programs and workshops for kids interested in pursuing STEM careers.
  • You can reserve the admission tickets by phone by calling the museumโ€™s front desk at (717) 358-3941.

Hours & When to Go

The general admission hours from Wednesday to Sunday are from 10 AM to 3 PM. The museum is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.

Admission Tickets and Pricing

Non-members pay the $11 admission fee, while kids under 3 are free.

You can also sgin-up to be a member for free admission.

If you are a student of Franklink & Marshall, you can also show your school ID to get in free.

Getting There & Parking

The museum is located at 400 College Ave, Lancaster, PA 17603.

Photo of author

Emma Williams

Emma was born and raised in Pennsylvania and loves exploring the state with her 3 kids, husband and Labrador. She loves nature and finding new, fun places to go.