Museum Musings

August is DINO-Mite

An Entire Month Dedicated to our Prehistoric Pals

dino-skull-dino-month.jpgAlthough they perished more than 65 million years ago, "dinostalgia" continues to sweep America, engaging young and old alike. As a key part of the Museum's mission, themes related to paleontology can be found in much of Fernbank's programming, including the annual Dinosaur Birthday Bash, a family day honoring the anniversary of the permanent dinosaur exhibition, Giants of the Mesozoic.

But this year, instead of limiting the fun to just one day, Fernbank Museum is declaring August Dinosaur Month! You're invited to join us as we celebrate everyone's favorite prehistoric party animals with a series of DINO-mite opportunities.

Fernbank's Dinosaur Month will feature educator-led programs, hands-on fossil activities, a new dinosaur scavenger hunt, special giveaways (both on-site and via social media), and special dinosaur-features on this blog.

Giggy-Hat-Croped.jpgDinosaur Month Highlights

Weekend Wonders
Saturdays from 11am – 3pm, Sundays from noon-4pm
Discover more about dinosaurs through special activities including crafts, games and more.

Tadpole Tales
Saturday, August 16 at 11:30am and Sunday, August 17 at 1:30pm
Bring your preschoolers for an interactive reading of Bones, Bones, Dinosaur Bones by Byron Barton.

Dinosaur Birthday Bash
Saturday, August 23 from 10am – 2pm
Enjoy a variety of hands-on dinosaur- and birthday-themed activities including a Museum-wide "Happy Birthday" sing-along. 

Giants of the Mesozoic Anniversary
Monday, August 25 from 10am – 5pm
Join us on social media for a virtual celebration of the 13th anniversary of the grand opening of this groundbreaking exhibition, featuring the world's largest dinosaurs. Enjoy trivia, archival photos, giveaways and more on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Fossil Discovery Cart
Dates and times vary
Learn more about fossils, dinosaur and otherwise, through hands-on demonstrations and real specimens.

Dinosaurs around the Museum
Giants of the Mesozoic isn't the only place at Fernbank to encounter dinosaurs. You'll also find them in A Walk Through Time in Georgia, on the Dinosaur Plaza, on the outdoor Terrace, and in Fernbank NatureQuest. Plus, free dinosaur-related activities are available for download.

Fernbank Museum App
Be sure to download the official Fernbank Museum App (available FREE for Android and iOS) and experience a special Paleontology Interactive, which guides visitors through the museum on an exploration of dinosaurs and other fossils.

You won't want to miss any of the DINO-mite adventures heading your way. Join today and you can enjoy Dinosaur Month for free!

Written by Fernbank Museum at 09:58

Volunteer of the Month: August


This month, we are honoring a volunteer whose contributions expand beyond the walks of the Museum, Teri Wall.

In September, Teri Wall reach her second anniversary as both a Polaris volunteer and as a Forest Restoration Volunteer. With a background in environmental compliance and remediation, Teri is a natural fit for the Museum's Second Saturday Forest Restoration Program. As one of the original volunteers for this special program, she has dedicated herself to assisting the Museum with the arduous process of removing invasive plant species from Fernbank Forest and the Forest Overlook.

"It's not easy, but for Teri to do this for two years shows her commitment to ecology and to Fernbank," said Steve Place, who currently leads the Second Saturday Forest Restoration Program and was an original volunteer alongside Teri.

When she's not digging up English Ivy or volunteering in the Member and Volunteer Services office, Teri loves the outdoors, where she enjoys running, cycling, hiking or whitewater rafting.

Volunteering has been a lifelong passion for Teri that began when she was in 6th grade, helping in the library of her mother's school. 

For information on how to become a volunteer, call 404.929.6360 or

Learn more about "Atlanta's hidden gem," Fernbank Forest.

Written by Fernbank Museum at 09:02

A Leafy Adventure

Disclaimer: My background is in communications. Before working at Fernbank I couldn’t tell a red oak from a pine tree. That said, one of the things I enjoy most about my job is the opportunity to learn more about natural history by joining one of the Museum’s unique educational programs. I’m able to discover and learn through a new perspective, often doing so with the curiosity of an explorer and the wide-eyed-enthusiasm of a child.

Speaking of natural history, Fernbank’s Summer Camp covers a variety of areas under the big umbrella that is natural history. So, I returned to summer camp, specifically on “Forest Day” for the Discovery Team camp (rising 2nd – 3rd graders).

Our lesson started in Fernbank NatureQuest, identifying trees (beech, long-leafed pine, short-leafed pine, red oak), part of plants (leaves, stems, roots) as well as seed dispersal.


Then it was time to take the lesson outdoors with a trip to Fernbank Forest with Fernbank educator, Charlee Glenn. Shortly upon entering the forest, we stopped to identify our first tree, a muscle tree. We did this not from memory, but by examining the bark, leaves and circumference of the tree.

The bark on muscle trees almost looks like veins that you’d see on bodybuilder flexing. Not only does the bark look similar to muscles, it is also a very strong tree. Despite having a smaller circumference, the muscle tree is very dense. To illustrate this, Charlee asked one of the campers to try to push the tree to see if it’d bend. (Note: it did not, but boy did that kid try.)


Next up (after navigating at least 5 spider webs), we found a red oak tree. Red oaks have lobbed leaves and its bark is light with dark stripes (like a zebra). Since one of the main identifiers we used for this tree was its leaves, we looked for some on the ground.


As we made our way to Huntemann Pond, Charlee talked about some of the animals that live in Fernbank Forest. As if on cue, a red tail hawk made its presence known with a series of calls. 

In addition to hawk calls, and despite the excited chattering of kids, you could still hear the rest of the forest: a variety of song birds, banjo frog, and the unmistakable “PLOP” of a frog jumping into the pond.

Today’s forest adventure included a special presentation by current FUN volunteer Meg, who has also served as a restoration volunteer in the Fernbank Forest Overlook. Her focus during that project was removing invasives. She provided a quick overview of the difference between invasive vs. native plants and how the invasives impact the native species.


It’s summer camp, so of course there was show and tell. Meg led a game of “Name that Invasive!” English ivy, kudzu, wisteria, privet and monkey grass - Oh my! Inspired by their new knowledge of invasives, one of the campers declared “let’s go pull ALL the monkey grass!”

Love the enthusiasm kid, but hold on a sec.

“You can’t just pull these [invasive] plants out of the ground,” Meg explained. She continued “It’s a careful process that takes time. We have to remove the entire plant, right down to the roots.”

As we made our way out of the forest, Charlee asked the kids to call out any invasives they spotted. One camper spotted a bank covered in English ivy and said “It’s like a football field of ivy!”


It was great to learn about the forest along with the campers. Their sense of wonder and endless curiosity was inspiring. Right up until I ran into my 6th spider web.


Click here to see more photos from my leafy adventure.

—Deanna Smith, Director of Marketing

Written by Fernbank Museum at 12:08

Behind the Scenes of Whales: Giants of the Deep

Fernbank Museum is thrilled to be hosting the special exhibit Whales: Giants of the Deep (on view through August 24). It is absolutely breathtaking, and really allows viewers to understand the vastness of these massive creatures and their cultural significance to people of the South Pacific.

That said, perhaps the best part about this exhibit is the significance that it holds for the indigenous people of New Zealand, the Maori.

The Maori and the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa worked closely together to create this exhibit from artifacts that have long belonged to the Maori people. This exhibit introduces visitors to these magnificent animals, as well as the importance of whales to so many of the people in the South Pacific.


Patrons looking at Maori artifacts

It has been an honor for the employees here at Fernbank to experience such a huge part of the Maori culture. In fact, when the exhibit first came to us, we all got the chance to meet the Maori collections manager, Mark Sykes.

Sykes was an integral part of the installation process, but he also came to say a prayer over all of the objects in the exhibit. He has met the whales at many of their museum stops, his purpose is to make sure the spirits of the wales, and other exhibit pieces, are at peace.


Fernbank and Te Papa employees working hard to assemble the skeletons

At each museum, before the exhibit is broken down for travel, a Maori collection manager has come out to say a blessing over the whales that allows their spirits to rest as employees begin the long process of breaking down the exhibit. As the objects from the exhibit arrive at their next stop, Skyes says another blessing to wake them up and introduce them to their new temporary home. 


The Evolution of Whales

Fernbank employees were allowed the privilege of participating in the blessing of the whales as they arrived at our Museum. It’s safe to say that everyone left with a deeper understanding of how important these creatures are to the Maori people. What may look like skeletons to the rest of us, embodies the spirit of the very culture that the Maori hold so dear.


58-foot-long Sperm Whale Skeleton

As you come visit this special exhibit, keep in mind the cultural significance that is so deeply engrained in these majestic creatures.

—Brittany Loggins, Marketing & Public Relations Coordinator

Written by Fernbank Museum at 12:10

Volunteer of the Month: July

July2014-VOTM.jpgWe are pleased to honor David, Sarah, and Larry as our July volunteers of the month. This terrific trio is among a group of volunteers who came to the Museum through our neighbor, The Frazer Center. Several times each month, David, Sara and Larry can be found welcoming our visitors to the IMAX® Theatre with bright smiles and energetic personalities. At the Frazer Center, they also support the Child Development program by playing with the kids and helping with snack time. When not volunteering, they enjoy dancing, making jewelry and listening to music.

For information on how to become a volunteer, call 404.929.6360 or

Written by Fernbank Museum at 15:23
Welcome to the official blog of Fernbank Museum of Natural History. This blog is an opportunity for the people that keep Fernbank running and constantly expanding, to share stories from their point of view. We hope you’ll enjoy these first-hand, behind-the-scenes glimpses of what goes into keeping a world-class natural history museum running. As always, we’d love to hear your feedback on these stories, to hear your personal experiences and hear any suggestions for topics. Happy reading!