I visited the DE Museum of Natural History on a field trip in grade school- I venture to guess that’s true of anyone who attended a Wilmington-area school- but this was my first time taking my kids there. They’d been there on their own, either with their grandmother who lives up the street or on field trips of their own. It was fun to revisit my own memories of the place and have my kids act as my personal museum tour guides at the same time.
The most vivid memory I had was the glass floor over a “Great Barrier Reef” that you walk over. It’s still there, and little ones are still wary of walking over it. This all by itself could be an hour of people-watching entertainment: the hesitation of the kids, the delight of the parents.
I love this painting. I didn’t write down what the bird is; I’m presuming the extinct Elephant Bird. It certainly makes the connection between birds and dinosaurs easier to fathom.
The museum’s featured exhibits are the bird and shell collections (the shell collection being one of the top 15 in the country). I am a little meh about the stuffed birds- I find them sort of creepy- but I love, love, love the egg collections and shells collections, all lined up. So pretty. The rock collection has the same sort of soothing qualities to it.
The museum also boasts a dino gallery and a “Hall of Mammals” both local and exotic.
You can pack a lunch and eat it inside- there’s a room with long tables- or outside on the patio at café style tables. I didn’t realize this when we went, but there is also a woodlands and wetlands trail behind the museum.
The Discovery Room was closed for renovations, but appears to be scheduled to reopen in October for little museum explorers:
Interactive activities will transport kids inside a cave, streambed, meadow, and woodland to explore wildlife and habitats using their senses and simple tools.
All in all, the Delaware Museum of Natural History is a nice, uncrowded experience for younger kids- I think under the age of ten, ideally. Bird lovers and shell collectors could easily spend hours looking at all the different specimens. More casual museum-goers shouldn’t expect the whole experience to run more than an hour or so, not counting the trail and sitting down for lunch. Personally, I like the low-pressure: just about perfect for short attention spans. Just know that this is not nearly so big as the museums in Philly.
This museum is a participant in the Bank of America Museums on Us program, meaning that B of A cardholders get free admission the first weekend of each month. (JUST the cardholder; kids will still need their admissions paid.)
Admission is FREE from 9:30 a.m. to noon September 12th, courtesy of the PNC Foundation.
If you’ve got a dino lover in your house you may want to wait until October 2nd, when the new Be the Dinosaur: Life in the Cretaceous exhibit begins- it runs until January 9th.
You’ll want to pack a lunch or time your visit carefully. There is not much in the way of casual dining close by- a Boston Market and Grotto’s Pizza ten minutes into the city on Pennsylvania Ave is all that is springing to mind.
Have any feedback on the museum or tips to share? Please leave them in the comments!
Delaware Museum of Natural History
4840 Kennett Pike
Wilmington, DE 19807
Adults $7, Kids 3-17 $5, 2 and younger are free.