Beneski Museum of Natural History

Frequently Asked Questions

Amherst-Jurassic-Diorama-2-1

1.) What are your hours/admission fee?

2.) What kinds of exhibits do you feature?

3.) How do I get to the museum? Is there a campus map available?

4.) Is the museum appropriate for young children?

5.) Is the museum ADA accessible?

6.) When we visit the museum, where should we park? Are alternative means of transportation available?

7.) How can I arrange for a guided tour of the museum for my school/other group?

8.) I am a researcher and would like to do some work with the museum’s collections. How do I arrange this?

9.) Who are the museum staff?

10.) I am interested in working at the museum. Can I get a job there?

11.) What is the relationship between the Bassett Planetarium, the Amherst College Wilder Observatory, and the Museum of Natural History?

12.) Is the Museum of Natural History involved in Museums 10?

13.) Why aren’t you still called the Pratt Museum of Natural History?

14.) What is the museum’s contact information?

 



1.) What are your hours/admission fee?

Museum hours are Tuesday through Friday, 11 AM to 4 PM, and Saturday - Sunday 10 AM - 5 PM There is no charge for admission.

2.) What kinds of exhibits do you feature?


The museum contains three floors of exhibits and over 1700 individual specimens on display. Highlights include:

The first (entrance level) floor features a variety of displays on vertebrate evolution and extinction, including free standing fossil skeletons of a mammoth, mastodon, dire wolf, saber-toothed cat, Irish Elk and cave bear. Fossils from Amherst College expeditions to Patagonian and the American west are exhibited, in additional to recently extinct birds such as the moa and the ivory billed woodpecker.

The second floor demonstrates the occurrence of geological phenomena in the Connecticut River Valley including mountain building and glaciation, as well as local animal and plant fossils, and a small exhibit on human evolution and teeth.

The ground floor displays the world’s largest collection of dinosaur tracks (primarily from the Connecticut River Valley), skulls of a Tyrannosaurus rex and a Triceratops and a diorama with a model showing what some of our local dinosaur species might have looked like. There is also a cast of a dinosaur track “book” that visitors can handle.

Both the first and second floors include drawers that can be pulled open to view specimens from the museum’s various collections.

Minerals and meteorites from the local area and around the world are displayed in cases in the corridor that runs between the museum and the Geology Department, with whom we share the Earth Sciences building.No groups are allowed in the hallways during the week to avoid disturbing classes.


3.) How do I get to the museum? Is there a campus map available?

The Beneski Museum of Natural History (11 Barrett Hill Road) is located on the campus of Amherst College in the town of Amherst, Massachusetts. Driving directions to the College can be found at https://www.amherst.edu/aboutamherst/visiting/directions

Car Pools and Groups

Groups may park in the Hills Lot located at 145 CollegeStreet (Route 9). The Hills Lot is just past the purple and white railroad overpass on your right as you travel east on Route 9 past the College. It is across the street from Leader True-Value hardware. The lot is large and buses can turn around and exit easily.There is a sidewalk from there to the museum.

To get to the museum follow the walk under the railroad bridge and turn left onto Dickinson. Walk past the garage on your left and then cross the drive to reach the footpath to the museum on your right. Most days you will see Geology department vans at the crosswalk. Follow the path between the two dorms, and head uphill. Keep walking around the four story Earth Science building on your left to reach the museum entrance on the south side of the building. It is five minutes from the parking lot to the museum front door.

Visitors who drive to the museum can also park in the lots or in the garage in the center of the town of Amherst, and can easily walk to the museum by following these instructions:

From the intersection of routes 9 East and 116 South, walk 3/10 of a mile down the hill, following route 9 East. Just before the purple and white railroad bridge, turn right onto East Drive, and walk past the Campus Police Building. At the stop sign, turn right to walk up Barrett Hill Road. The Museum is a red brick building with a metal roof. The main entrance is located approximately half way up Barrett Hill, facing south. There is a small stone patio in front of the entrance.

A map of the campus can be found at https://www.amherst.edu/aboutamherst/visiting/map

More information about parking can be found at https://www.amherst.edu/aboutamherst/visiting/parking

4.) Is the museum appropriate for young children?

The Beneski Museum of Natural History is appropriate for people of all ages, including young children. However, most items on display in the museum are not to be handled. Signs and labels are designed for visitors with an understanding of high school laboratory science. There are some displays in drawers that children are too small to use.

5.) Is the museum ADA accessible?

All three floors of the museum can be accessed by elevator. No mechanized door openers are available. The assigned accessible parking spaces are in the small lot northwest of the Beneski Earth Sciences and Museum of Natural History building, adjacent to the Keefe Health Center.

6.) When we visit the museum, where should we park? Are alternative means of transportation available?

Amherst College does NOT offer weekday public parking. For more information, please see https://www.amherst.edu/aboutamherst/visiting/parking 

There are no restrictions on weekend parking.The closest parking lot is the Hills Lot, which can be seen on this map of the campus: https://www.amherst.edu/aboutamherst/visiting/map

The museum is easily walkable from downtown Amherst, as well as from the PVTA bus stop at the Amherst College campus (in front of Converse Hall). Schedule information for PVTA can be found at http://www.pvta.com/index.php

Bicyclists in Hampshire County can also make use of the bike racks installed on local PVTA buses: http://www.pvta.com/bikes.php

A bicycle rack can be found on the north side of the building entrance.

Additionally, the museum is easily accessible from the Norwottuck Rail Trail. Information (including a map) about this multi-use recreational path can be found at http://www.mass.gov/dcr/parks/central/nwrt.htm

7.) How can I arrange for a guided tour of the museum for my school/other group?

To schedule your visit to the Museum, use the link to the left to view our calendar and select a date and time. Groups normally are admitted to the Museum during regular business hours, Tuesday-Friday from 11AM to 4PM and Saturday - Sunday 10AM - 5PM.  Accomodations for hours outside business hours can be made with greater advanced notice. Then send an email note to Alfred J. Venne, Museum Educator

Please specify the following information in your request.

  1. Day, date and time
  2. Group Name & Age Group
  3. Contact Person & Phone
  4. Number in Group & Chaperone Ratio
  5. Type of Visit (Guided or Self Guided)

You will receive a reply to confirm that your request has been scheduled or that your proposed date/time is not available.

8.) I am a professional researcher or student and would like to do some work with the museum’s collections. How do I arrange this?

As a courtesy, we ask that collections visits be arranged a minimum of two weeks in advance.

For additional information, please see https://www.amherst.edu/museums/naturalhistory/collections


9.) Who are the museum staff?

Tekla Harms is the Director of the museum and a Professor of geology.

Kate Wellspring is the Collections Curator and has been at the museum since 2003. She is responsible for the care and use of specimens in the museum’s collections and supervises many day-to-day museum activities.

Alfred Venne is the Museum Educator. He is responsible for the scheduling of educational visits, developing curriculum and coordinating guided visits of the museum. avenne@amherst.edu

10.) I am interested in working at the museum. Can I get a job there?

The museum hires Amherst College students as gallery monitors. Other available positions would be posted on the Amherst College jobs page http://www.amherst.edu/~hr/jobs/


11.) What is the relationship between the Bassett Planetarium, the Amherst College Wilder Observatory, and the Beneski Museum of Natural History?

Each of these is independent institutions operated by Amherst College. The Bassett Planetarium is also available for school groups. https://www.amherst.edu/museums/bassett


12.) Is the Beneski Museum of Natural History involved in Museums 10?

Museums 10 is a consortium of ten area (western Massachusetts) museums including the Mead Art Museum; Emily Dickinson Museum; Beneski Museum of Natural History, Amherst College; University Gallery of UMass Amherst; Historic Deerfield; National Yiddish Book Center; Smith College Museum of Art; Eric Carl Museum of Picture Book Art; Mount Holyoke College Art Museum; and the Hampshire College Art Gallery. More information about this consortium, including lodging and contact information for other museums, can be found at http://www.museums10.org/

13.) Why has the Museum's name changed?

In 2006, the museum and the department of geology moved into a new building. From 2006 until March of 2011, the museum was known as the Amherst College Museum of Natural History. In April of 2011 the building housing the museum and the geology department was renamed the Beneski Earth Sciences Building , and the museum is now called the Beneski Museum of Natural History, in honor of Ted (class of 1978) and Laurie Beneski. Details concerning the name change can be found at https://www.amherst.edu/aboutamherst/news/news_releases/2011/03/node/302873

14.) What is the museum’s contact information?

Beneski Museum of Natural History, Amherst College
11 Barrett Hill Road

Amherst, MA 01002-5000 

USA

phone (413) 542-2165

 

 

Open Tue–Fri, 11 a.m.–4p.m.
Sat & Sun, 10 a.m.–5 p.m.
Closed Monday

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