A 500-million-year adventure through Iowa's geological, cultural and ecological history.
"Taking Flight: The World of Birds" features exhibits on all aspects of bird life, ecology, and evolution, from courtship to eggs, nesting and parenting, to feeding and flight. The museum's bird collection includes nearly all species recorded as residents or seasonal visitors to Iowa, with over 1,000 birds on display.
There is an interactive computer station on bird sounds, a life-sized model of a Wandering Albatross with a real, fiber-optically illuminated skeleton inside, and a video presentation on bird flight.
The Biosphere Discovery Hub, which opened in 2007, explores the relationship between people and the natural environment. Beginning with ancient rock drawings, through 10,000 years of Iowa's changing natural and cultural landscape, up to today's frightening threats to our health and environment, the hub shows the many kinds of traces that people leave on the land and features UI environmental research addressing global environmental concerns.
The century-old Laysan Island Cyclorama offers a 360-degree view of Laysan, an outpost of the Hawaiian atoll and a bird sanctuary, at its heyday, when it boasted 8 million birds of 22 different species in 1.5 square miles.
Outstanding displays in Mammal Hall include a specimen of the rare giant panda from China, a complete skeleton of a 47-foot Atlantic right whale, and musk oxen from the Barren Grounds of northern Canada. Specimens from aardvark to zebra are represented, with many animals collected by University of Iowa faculty and students during expeditions around the world.
The ground-floor hallway is lined with historic exhibits highlighting ecology, geology, taxidermy, and biodiversity.