If you’re looking for dinosaurs, culture, and hands-on science experiments in Atlanta, then Fernbank Museum of Natural History is the place for you! You’ll have seen some posts about Fernbank on my blog before, so I thought it’s time to give you an in-depth guide to visiting this fun museum.
About Fernbank Museum of Natural History
Fernbank got its start in the 1800s when Emily Harrison preserved 65 acres of forest in the middle of Atlanta for conservation work and science education. Her favorite part of this forest was a creek bank covered with ferns, and so she called the area “Fernbank.”
In 1939, Harrison and Dr. Woolford Baker, a biologist at Emory University, established Fernbank as a nonprofit organization, and in 1992 Fernbank Museum of Natural History officially opened to the public.
Since opening its doors, Fernbank Museum has won many awards, from Best Museum in Atlanta to Top 10 Museum for Dinosaurs in the World.
Things to Do at Fernbank Museum
Explore the Permanent Exhibits
Fernbank’s permanent exhibits cover dinosaurs, fossils, and the natural history of Georgia. You’re greeted at the front of the Museum in Dinosaur Plaza by bronze recreations of dinosaurs. Filling the Museum’s Great Hall is the Giants of the Mesozoic exhibit where you can stand at the feet of the world’s largest dinosaurs and find fossil casts in the rockwork.
A Walk Through Time in Georgia lets you see the natural history of Georgia through lifelike geographic regions and historic re-creations. The Reflections of Culture exhibit displays photographs, costumes, jewelry, footwear, headdresses, and masks to help you learn about different cultures around the world.
Conveyed in Clay: Stories from St. Catherines Island explores how Native Americans adapted to changes through the evolution of their pottery. World of Shells exhibits an array of shells collected from the Georgia coast and elsewhere throughout the world. And over in Curator’s Corner, items from Fernbank’s permanent collection are highlighted.
Explore the Special Exhibits
There’s always something new to discover with Fernbank’s rotating special exhibits. Currently on view are David Rogers’ Big Bugs, larger-than-life creations of bugs and insects displayed throughout WildWoods; and Monster Fish: In Search of the Last River Giants, a series of videos and hands-on interactive activities surrounding giant and bizarre species of freshwater fish.
See a Movie at the Giant Screen Theater
Fernbank’s Giant Screen Theater provides an immersive experience for a rotating list of movies in both 2D and 3D. Currently playing are Superpower Dogs, following the life-saving bravery of the world’s working dogs; Apollo 11: First Steps Edition, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing; and my favorite, Great Bear Rainforest, taking a look at the vibrant ecosystem that is home to the rare Spirit Bear.
Wander through WildWoods
WildWoods is Fernbank’s outdoor exhibit that takes you on a walkway through the trees. You’ll find the Nature Gallery full of art and games, the Nature Stories exhibit for kids, and the Adventure Outpost for tweens. (Note: If you’re an adult and you want to play on the Adventure Outpost, because it’s as awesome as it looks, come back during an adult night event like After Dark where you’re free to play!)
Discover Fernbank Forest
Fernbank Forest is 2 miles of walking paths in that 65 acres of land Emily Harrison preserved way back when. You can take a self-guided tour through the old-growth forest, accessed through WildWoods.
You’ll have a lot to take in at Fernbank, so I recommend exploring the indoor exhibits first, then tackling the outdoor exhibits and the Georgia summer heat before coming back in to cool off while watching a movie on the Giant Screen.
Attend Special Events and Programs
Fernbank Museum offers a ton of special programs throughout the year. These are things like story telling, animal encounters, bird walks, themed family days, and adult nights.
Shop at the Museum Store
The Fernbank Museum store has more than 3,000 unique and educational gifts for children and adults. The store is open during all Museum hours.
Eat at The Fernbank Cafe
The Fernbank Cafe offers delicious sandwiches, soups, pizzas, and kids’ meals in a dining area on the lower level. The Fernbank Cafe is open Monday through Friday 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturday through Sunday 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Visiting Fernbank Museum
Location: Fernbank Museum of Natural History, 767 Clifton Road NE, Atlanta
Admission: Museum tickets include access to all exhibits, WildWoods, and Fernbank Forest. $20 for adults, $19 for students and seniors, and $18 for children. Movie tickets are $13 for adults, $12 for students and seniors, and $11 for children. There is also a combo pass for the museum + movie, which are $27 for adults, $25 for students and seniors, and $23 for children.
I recommend buying tickets at the Museum rather than before your visit for a couple reasons: first, the tickets are more expensive online after all the transaction and processing fees; and second, you’ll still have to wait in line at Will Call to collect your ticket when you purchase online, so you aren’t saving any time.
Hours: Fernbank Museum is open daily 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Some movies have a last showtime of 5 p.m. The museum is also open on select nights for adult events. The museum is closed Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day.
Parking: Onsite parking at Fernbank is absolutely free!
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Have you visited Fernbank Museum of Natural History? Let me know in the comments!
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