Guide to the Harvard Museum of Natural History

Did you know that there are more than 450 museums in Massachusetts? FOUR HUNDRED FIFTY. Now that’s a LOT. In fact, there are over 100 in just the Greater Boston Area.

Better yet, did you know that the much-maligned destinations of countless school field trips are actually pretty awesome? It’s true, they are. And they’re only getting hipper.

From putting on after-hours events to teaching you about things you never knew were cool, museums are rad. Looking for a way to beat the heat, gain an air of academic importance, and be wowed? Let's check them out starting out with one of our faves, the Harvard Museum of Natural History in Cambridge. The museum was created in 1998 as a public combination of three research museums: the Museum of Comparative Zoology, the Harvard University Herbaria, and the Mineralogical & Geological Museum. From flowers to fossils this museum showcases the best of these museums’ extensive collections.

The Harvard Museum of Natural History

With over 10,000 specimens on display, from gemstones to giraffes, visiting the museum encourages you embrace your inner Indiana Jones. The blue whale skeleton hanging in the hall of animals is definitely a show stopper. Who knew they were SO big?!

We also weren’t expecting to find art in a natural history museum, but the amazing glass flowers on display are masterpieces. There are over 2,000 different handcrafted varieties. And gross, but amazing is the collection of rotten apples located in the same exhibit. While it sounds disgusting, these are glass apples showing different diseases and states of decay. They are fascinating and a little too realistic. Don’t miss them.  

Lorianne DiSabato

Lorianne DiSabato

Plan Your Visit

Ready to go? To get to the Harvard Museum of Natural History, take the Redline to Harvard Square and walk about 8 minutes through Harvard Yard and down Oxford St. There’s no parking garage, but you could also duke it out with the crazies in the pursuit of street parking. We don’t recommend it.

The museum is open daily from 9am to 5pm and regular admission is $12.


  • Admission to the museum is free for all Massachusetts residents on Sundays if you enter before noon and on Wednesdays from 3 to 5pm. You can also check out a discount pass at your local Boston Public Library or Cambridge Public Library branch and pay only $6 to enter.

  • The museum has awesome free events – lectures, classes, late night tours and even the occasional beer/wine tasting. Check their events page to see what’s coming up.


Lindsay Gardner is an Instructional Designer living and working in Boston. You can follow her on Instagram @lindsaygardner09.