Atlanta’s Fernbank Museum of Natural History Celebrates 20 Years
A cultural icon and one of Atlanta’s premier museums, Fernbank Museum of Natural History marks its 20th anniversary in 2012. Fernbank opened in the Druid Hills neighborhood of Northeast Atlanta on October 5, 1992 and has since grown into one of the most visited museums in the Southeast.
The year-long anniversary celebration features more than 20 weekends of activity days, several new IMAX® films, three photography exhibitions, and three large-scale special exhibitions--including a blockbuster cultural and artifact show that will open in October. Fernbank will also begin a master plan for the entire property, which includes the 65-acre Fernbank Forest.
The museum will mark several milestones as part of the celebration, including the first anniversary of the innovative children’s exhibition Fernbank NatureQuest in March, the 11-year anniversary of the Giants of the Mesozoic exhibition featuring the world’s largest dinosaurs in August, and the black-tie A Timeless Affair anniversary gala in October.
Fernbank’s other accomplishments include receiving accreditation by the American Association of Museums in 2003, a distinction earned by fewer than 5% of museums nationwide; being the first museum in the world to exhibit the world’s largest dinosaur, the 123-foot-long Argentinosaurus; serving millions of school children with field trips and afterschool programs; discovering a rare Hernando de Soto encampment site through the museum’s archaeology research program; presenting the world premieres of several IMAX films; hosting events featuring Vice President Al Gore, President Jimmy Carter, President George W. Bush, Dr. Jane Goodall, Dr. Richard Leakey, and the late Nobel Peace Prize winner Dr. Wangari Maathai; and being selected as the home of an rare collection of more than a million artifacts from St. Catherines Island that spans 5,000 years of human history.
In Fernbank’s 20 years, the museum has presented nearly 80 IMAX® films and hosted nearly 50 major travelling exhibitions about natural history, ranging from ancient Egypt to dinosaurs, from the human genome project to water, from live reptiles to Smokey the Bear, and from chocolate to weather. Fernbank has also generated six new permanent exhibitions and visitor features since 2001, including Giants of the Mesozoic, Reflections of Culture, The Naturalist Center/Curator’s Corner, Conveyed in Clay, Fernbank NatureQuest, and the Dinosaur Plaza.
In recognition of the diversity of subjects that natural history includes, Fernbank also will debut a new “That’s Natural History!” campaign. The campaign will connect current events to experiences available at Fernbank and also raise awareness for all that natural history has to offer visitors—not just fossils, dinosaurs and extinct species, but modern world cultures, nature, live animals and how science continues to unlock many of the world’s mysteries.
Fernbank Museum is also celebrating a 25% increase in attendance in 2011 over 2010’s numbers. Programming days, strong exhibition and IMAX schedules, and high marks in customer service have increased visitation and membership households during the economic downturn. Through programming and proactive budget adjustments, the museum has continued to operate in the black since current president and CEO, Susan Neugent, joined Fernbank in late 1997.
“Fernbank Museum means so much to so many people, and this year allows us to celebrate the many achievements of the past 20 years, as well as the millions of visitors who have helped us grow, the donors who make our programs financially possible, and the relevance of natural history in today’s world,” Neugent said.
20 Ways to Celebrate 20 Years of Fernbank:
1) Wildlife Rescue: Don’t miss this popular exhibition on view through May 6. Visitors explore compelling stories, hands-on interactives, and multimedia encounters as they learn about endangered animals from around the world, the people helping them survive, and the science behind their efforts.
2) Georgia Natural: Experience the beauty of Georgia’s diverse regions in an incredible photography exhibition by Diane Kirkland, on view through April 29.
3) Born to be Wild: Just like elephants, you will never forget this new IMAX film, showing through May 18. Meet orphaned orangutans and elephants along with the people who rescue, raise and return them to the wild—saving endangered species one life at a time.
4) The Greatest Places: Take advantage of the final weeks of one of the most popular films of all time before it closes on April 19. Take an educational journey to seven of the most geographically dynamic locations on Earth and explore spectacular land forms, diverse wildlife and the native cultures of some of The Greatest Places on Earth.
5) To the Arctic: Fernbank premieres this incredible new film that swims alongside polar bears and reveals a world beneath Arctic ice on April 20 in celebration of Earth Day.
6) 97 Days of Play: Summer is filled with activities for families, students and anyone looking for positive fun as Fernbank kicks off 97 Days of Play with an ongoing schedule of summer events, family celebrations, activity days, scavenger hunts, special programs and much more.
7) The Scoop on Poop: On view from May 26-September 3, Fernbank’s summer exhibit lets visitors listen in on a bear's digestive system, learn the language of poop in countries around the world, examine fecal samples in a veterinarian's lab, track wild animals by clues left in scat, and meet a dinosaur dung detective. Get the scoop on what we learn about animals by examining what they leave behind.
8) Summer Camps: For youngsters who crave adventure during the summer break, Fernbank keeps them engaged with week-long day camps between June 4-July 20 for rising Kindergarten through 5th-graders. Fernbank educators guide campers on an exploration of the scientific world, including ecology, paleontology, and entomology through unique activities, crafts, games and more.
9) Lost Oasis 2012: 20 Years of Roar: Fernbank’s Artemis guild of young professionals hosts this summer party set in the Roaring ‘20s to mark 20 years of Fernbank on June 9. The event features live music, flappers, open bars with speakeasy-era cocktails, cuisine, a silent auction, and the great fashion of the ‘20s.
10) Major Cultural Exhibition Soon to Be Announced!: Fernbank will host a major cultural exhibition in October featuring art, artifacts, history, interactive elements, murals, and 200 rare world treasures.
11) Winter Wonderland: Celebrate holidays, traditions and cultures around the world in this festive exhibition and programming series featuring decorated trees, dance groups, musical acts, craft demonstrations, storytelling and more.
12) A Timeless Affair: Fernbank’s largest annual fundraiser will mark the official 20th anniversary gala, taking place on October 6. The black-tie event features live music, dancing, a seated dinner, a live auction and exclusive access to the museum’s major fall exhibition.
13) 20 Years Celebrated over 20 Weekends: Fernbank is celebrating its 20th anniversary with more than 20 weekends of activities, events and special programs. Every month features special celebrations.
14) Martinis & IMAX®: It originated at Fernbank more than 15 years ago and is still the gold standard of cultural events. Martinis & IMAX is offered every Friday evening at Fernbank with music, dancing, cocktails, cuisine and IMAX films. The first Friday of the month also features Team Trivia and the third Friday is Salsa Night!
15) Dinosaurs: They may have existed more than 65 million years ago, but dinosaurs never grow old. From the world’s largest dinosaurs in Giants of the Mesozoic, including the 123-foot-long plant-eating Argentinosaurus and the 47-foot-long meat-eating Giganotosaurus to the renovated entrance to the Museum featuring a family of hadrosaurs native to Georgia, and from the dinosaur gallery in A Walk Through Time in Georgia to the annual Dinosaur Birthday Bash, there’s plenty of ways to celebrate these Cretaceous creatures at Fernbank. Fans can even follow “Giggy,” Fernbank’s Tweeting dinosaur @Giga_a_dino.
16) New Children’s Exhibit: Young visitors embark on a quest to enjoy live animal habitats and over 100 hands-on opportunities in the award-winning children’s exhibition Fernbank NatureQuest. From exploration headquarters inside the Clubhouse, visitors go on an open-ended journey of the natural world as they investigate a waterfall, river, swamp, estuary, ocean, forest, rock wall, cave, archaeology excavation and more.
17) Discover Georgia’s Past and Present: Go on A Walk Through Time in Georgia to explore Georgia’s natural regions and the history of the Earth in this permanent exhibition featuring 16 galleries that bring the natural world to life and reveal how the Earth has changed through time.
18) Connect with Cultures: Find out how people communicate information through their clothing, jewelry and even body modification in the permanent exhibit Reflections of Culture. Students see authentic artifacts and objects from around the world as they learn about culture, geography, economics and politics.
19) Live animals: Fernbank features a variety of opportunities to meet its collection of live animals, which serve as official ambassadors to nature. The permanent Fernbank NatureQuest children’s exhibition includes several species of live animals, all living in special habitats that reflect their native ecosystems. Fernbank also offers live animal encounters led by the Museum’s education staff on weekends and during other periods of peak visitation. Another popular event, Reptile Day, is offered each July and features dozens of live reptiles.
20) Fernbank Forest: A visit to Fernbank Museum inspires an appreciation for the natural world and offers the insight for investigating the world. Take the lessons learned about Georgia’s regions, habitats, the ecosystem and more as you explore the true natural beauty of Fernbank’s 65-acre old-growth Piedmont forest.
There are more ways to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Fernbank Museum of Natural History. For an ongoing schedule of events, programs, awards, announcements and visitor information, visit fernbankmuseum.org.
Fernbank Museum is located at 767 Clifton Road, NE in Atlanta. Museum admission is $17.50 for adults, $16.50 for students/seniors, $15.50 for children ages 3 to 12, free for children 2 and younger, and free for Fernbank Members. IMAX tickets are $13 for adults, $12 for students/seniors, $11 for children, and $8 for Fernbank Members. Special value pass tickets are also available, offering discounted admission for visitors who visit the Museum and the IMAX Theatre. For tickets, call 404.929.6400 or visit fernbankmuseum.org.
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