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Museum Minute: Georgia Museum of Natural History

Georgia Natural History

The art museum isn’t the only museum on campus. In fact, the Georgia Museum of Natural History is almost right across the street, at the intersection of East Campus Road and Cedar Drive, and is open to visitors Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m, at no charge. Formally recognized as a museum of natural history in 1978, its collections actually date back to the early 1800s, when UGA’s first professor, Josiah Meigs, began collecting natural history specimens.

It now holds 14 different collections, including ones focused on archaeology, plant biology, arthropods, geology, snakes, fish, invertebrates, birds and more. The fish collection alone includes more than 325,000 specimens preserved in alcohol. It’s also the official state museum of natural history. Visitors to the museum can currently see a gallery exhibition titled “This Place We Call Georgia” that focuses on the changing biodiversity of the state. Some of these changes involve loss, as it highlights the now-extinct passenger pigeon, ivory-billed woodpecker and Carolina parakeet. Other changes involve new wildlife, such as the introduced Joro spiders and stinkbugs. Specimens on display come from regions including the Ridge and Valley area of north Georgia, the Piedmont of central Georgia and the Coastal Plain of south Georgia, as well as the Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary, off Georgia’s coast. Curator Nicole Pontzer said, “We decided to create the exhibit around the diversity and the things that make Georgia unique ecologically and historically.” Children are welcome and can enjoy a scavenger hunt through the main gallery and exploration drawers.