May 2, 2007
Director of Media Relations
AMHERST, Mass.—The Amherst College Museum of Natural History has been selected as an “Editor’s Choice” in the 2007 travel issue of Yankee Magazine.
“When it comes to dinosaur footprints, nothing in the world beats the middle reach of the Connecticut River,” according to the Yankee editors. “Ancient perambulations in Mesozoic mud left a mother lode of more than 21,000 documented footprints. All of these belong to Amherst College, gathered in the 1800s by professor Edward Hitchcock, the pioneer of ichnology (the study of stone prints). Until recently, this important collection was inaccessible to the public, but that’s changed with the opening of this museum, one of New England’s rare ones devoted to natural history.”
Opened to the public last summer, the Amherst College Museum of Natural History is housed with the college’s geology department in the Earth Sciences and Museum of Natural History Building.
The natural history collections at Amherst include vertebrate and invertebrate paleontology, minerals and other geologic specimens, and anthropological material acquired through expeditions, exchanges, donations and purchases from the 1830s to the present. The collection mirrors the changing interests of the Amherst faculty and the history of scientific inquiry. Much comes from the Connecticut Valley, but also from Africa, Asia and South and Central America, where early Amherst graduates traveled as missionaries or explorers.
Before moving to the Earth Sciences and Museum of Natural History Building, Amherst’s collections were housed in the college’s Pratt Museum, which is now being converted to a dormitory. Prior to that Amherst’s treasures had been collected in Appleton Cabinet, now a dormitory, and earlier in the Woods Cabinet, now a multi-purpose building known as the Octagon. Designed by Museum Design Associates of Boston the new Earth Sciences and Museum of Natural History Building contains three floors of exhibits and more than 1,700 individual specimens on display.
Hours at the Amherst College Museum of Natural History are Tuesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The museum is closed Mondays, the Fourth of July and Labor Day. Admission is free.
The museum has a Website at www/amherst.edu/~museumofnaturalhistory.