Tucked away inside the Harvard University campus is a museum filled with evolutionary wonders. The Harvard Museum of Natural History is home to exotic scientific exhibits, including an interesting hall of extinct taxidermy animals and an exquisite collection of glass artwork.
Arguably, the most fascinating exhibit is the Hall of The Glass Flowers. Artisans Leopold Blaschka and his son Rudolf created their collection including over 847 different species. From 1886 to 1936, some 3,000 replicas of common flora were created with nothing but glass, sugar, and color.
The creation of these flowers was commissioned by the first director of Harvard’s Botanical Museum, George Lincoln Goodale, who desired to have life-like reproductions of plants that would not wilt during his botany class.
While looking at the intricate glass flowers, it is hard to believe that they are fabricated from glass. The creators took abundant care in assuring that each detail of the flowers was perfectly crafted.
Just after visiting The Glass Flowers, one can continue to the Sea Creatures in Glass. The Blaschka family also created these, commissioned by a Boston resident. The craftsmanship that went into making these sea creatures remains astonishing. While the sea anemones and jellyfish are incredible, the must-see piece of this exhibit is the octopus. While it is a work of glass, the detailing on the octopus includes every tentacle, vein, and pore.
The museum also boasts hundreds of taxidermy animals, skulls, and skeleton exhibits. There are life-size replicas of extinct animals, like the land-sloth, and modern animals like the gorilla.
In addition, the museum’s first floor is home to one of the largest collections of rare minerals and gemstones, ranging from dolomite to halite. This exhibit houses one of the largest intact geodes, a 1,500 pound amethyst crystal.
The museum is open daily and is $10 for students with a non-Harvard student ID. If you are a Mass. resident or Mass. college student, there is no entrance fee on Sundays and Wednesdays from 3 p.m. to close.