Past Events

Sexy Science

We’re kicking off our new evening hours on Thursdays with an event dedicated to the suggestive side of natural history. Featuring games, activities, chocolate and coffee, this event is for KU students age 18 and older and is co-sponsored by the KU Peer Health Educator Group.

Event Details

Date/Time Thursday, September 13, 2012 - 5:00pm - 7:30pm

Behind-the-scenes: herpetology

Have you ever wondered about the specimens Biodiversity Institute scientists reference for research? During this special behind-the-scenes tour, you can look at our research collections of reptiles and amphibians from all over the world. UPDATE: This tour is now full. Please check back for other upcoming tours in October and in winter 2013.

Event Details

Date/Time Sunday, August 26, 2012 - 4:00pm - 5:00pm

The Impact of Extreme Weather

A Science on Tap Event

 One impact of global climate change is a change in the number and type of extreme weather events within a region. These may include more pronounced drought, more intense rainfall events, more intense heat waves etc. These events may have very different implications depending upon when they occur during the year. For this Science on Tap, Nate Brunsell of the KU Geography department will lead a conversation about the potential ramifications of changing extreme weather patterns on natural, agricultural, and urban environments.

Event Details

Date/Time Tuesday, July 10, 2012 - 7:30pm - 9:00pm

The Cognitive Costs of Technology

A Science on Tap Event

The technological boom of the last 25 years has given us gadgets that are useful, attractive and fun. But are they also harmful? New research has begun to show the costs of our “wired” society, and the incompatibility between our brains and our gadgets. For this Science on Tap, Paul Atchley of the KU Department of Psychology will lead a conversation on the limits of human attention, the costs of technology and promising work showing that a return to nature may be good for how we think.

Event Details

Date/Time Tuesday, June 12, 2012 - 7:30pm - 9:00pm

Displaying the World: Innovation at the World's Fairs, 1851-1939

Nineteenth and twentieth century world’s fairs were the most important vehicles for debuting advances in modern living. Often universal in scope, these major events brought together ideas and people in displays that exhibited scientific discoveries, agricultural products, machinery, manufactured products, paintings, sculpture and architecture. Fairs encouraged international competition as well as industrial and technical innovation.  Using the 1893 Chicago World’s Columbian Exposition as the centerpiece, Catherine Futter, Curator of Decorative Arts at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, will examine innovation and the golden age of world’s fairs from 1851 to 1939. The talk will be held in front of the museum's famed Panorama exhibit, which was originally created for the 1893 Exposition and still displayed today.

Catherine Futter is the curator of Inventing the Modern World: Decorative Arts at the World's Fairs, 1851-1939, now on view at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, MO.



Event Details

Date/Time Thursday, June 7, 2012 - 7:00pm - 9:00pm

Butterfly Field Trip

On Friday, May 18 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., the public is welcome to visit with KU scientists and see clouds of emerging butterflies at the Fitch Natural History Reservation located just north of the Lawrence Municipal Airport. KU Natural History Museum and Kansas Biological Survey scientists will be available to offer information and guidance to visitors. 

Ornithologist Mark Robbins expects to see thousands of Emperor Hackberry butterflies emerging at the property, which is part of the KU Field Station.

For more information, visit the KU Biodiversity Institute newsroom.

Event Details

Date/Time Friday, May 18, 2012 - 11:00am - 1:00pm

An Exclusive for Museum Members

Reception and Private Viewing of 39 Trails Exhibition

Members of the Friends of the KU Natural History Museum are invited to a private reception and viewing of 39 Trails: Research in the Peruvian Amazon, at 6:30 pm Thursday, May 3. The exhibition on view at the Spencer Museum of Art is co-sponsored by the Spencer Museum and the Biodiversity Institute.

The event, which will be held at the Spencer Museum, includes Peruvian appetizers and beer and wine.

39 Trails is the culmination of a Biodiversity Institute interdisciplinary expedition to Peru in June 2011 to study Amazonian insects and other wildlife. The expedition involved eight KU students and two faculty members from across the sciences, arts and humanities, including entomology, evolutionary biology, ecology, microbiology, environmental studies, English, art history, journalism, and industrial design. The expedition and exhibition were made possible with the generous support of Jann and Tom Rudkin.

To RSVP for the 39 Trails reception, please send a message to, or call 785-864-2344.

Those who are not yet members of the Friends of the KU Natural History Museum can still join and attend. Memberships for households begin at $40, provide support for museum exhibits and programs, and grant the member reciprocal admission to more than 300 other museums worldwide. Join online at KU Endowment, or call 785-864-2344.

Event Details

Date/Time Thursday, May 3, 2012 - 6:00pm - 7:00pm

EVENT POSTPONED: Behind the Scenes: Botany

**Event Postponed** We apologize for any inconveience. This event will be rescheduled.

For more than 140 years, KU scientists and students have collected and studied Earth's animals and plants. Only a few of these specimens are on display for the public in the exhibits of the KU Natural History Museum; milions more are in jars or drawers throughout the Biodiversity Institute's research areas.

Now is your chance to see one of our collections up close. At 3 p.m. Sunday, April 22, Craig Freeman, curator of Botany, will offer a behind-the-scenes tour of our botany (plant) collection at the Ronald L. McGregor Herbarium on KU's west campus. The collection includes approximately 400,000 plant specimens ; 65 percent of the collection represents the flora of the grassland biome of central North America, a special focus in KU's botany program.

Advanced registration for this event is required. A $7 contribution for the tour is suggested for the public, and $5 for museum members. Please call 785.864.2344 to register.

Event Details

Date/Time Sunday, April 22, 2012 - 3:00pm - 4:30pm

Civil Society, the Phoenix in the Ruins: Disaster, Carnival, Revolution, and Public Joy

A Commons Event

Do we return to our original nature in chaos and crisis? That's been the theory of disaster management (and Hollywood disaster movies), but what if our original nature is calm, openhearted, generous, and creative? Rebecca Solnit has studied and written about major disasters and reached conclusions that are relevant not only to emergencies but to larger questions about our deepest desires and greatest possibilities.

Based in San Francisco, Solnit is the author of thirteen books about art, landscape, public and collective life, ecology, politics, hope, meandering, reverie, and memory. They include November 2010’s Infinite City: A San Francisco Atlas, a book of 22 maps and nearly 30 collaborators; 2009's A Paradise Built in Hell: The Extraordinary Communities that Arise in Disaster, and many others, including Storming the Gates of Paradise; A Field Guide to Getting Lost; Hope in the Dark: Untold Histories, Wild Possibilities; Wanderlust: A History of Walking; As Eve Said to the Serpent: On Landscape, Gender and Art; and River of Shadows, Eadweard Muybridge and the Technological Wild West (for which she received a Guggenheim, the National Book Critics Circle Award in criticism, and the Lannan Literary Award). She has worked on an array of topics including climate change, Native American land rights, antinuclear, human rights, antiwar and other issues as an activist and journalist. A product of the California public education system from kindergarten to graduate school, she is a contributing editor to Harper’s and frequent contributor to the political site and has made her living as an independent writer since 1988.

Event Details

Date/Time Wednesday, February 29, 2012 - 7:30pm - 9:00pm

Behind the Scenes: Insects

For more than 140 years, KU scientists and students have collected and studied Earth's animals and plants. Only a few of these specimens are on display for the public in the exhibits of the KU Natural History Museum; milions more are in jars or on shelves throughout the Biodiversity Institute's research areas.

Now is your chance to see one of our collections up close. At 3 p.m. Sunday, February 19, Andrew Short, curator of Entomology, will offer a behind-the-scenes tour of our entomology collection. The collection includes more than 4.5 million specimens of insects from Kansas to around the world and is the basis of entomology research at KU.

**Update: This tour is full. Please watch for other behind-the-scenes tours, which are offered quarterly by the museum.**

Event Details

Date/Time Sunday, February 19, 2012 - 3:00pm - 5:00pm