Program Series

Adult Art Nite

New to the UI Museum of Natural History Adult Art Nite!  Join us in the gallery space to create personalized projects with the help of local experts.  This program is designed for adult participants.  Space is limited for each program & advanced registration is required.  Payment is due at time of registration.  

Adult Art Nite

Explorers Seminar Series

Our "Science Cafe"-style Explorers Seminars feature interdisciplinary public lectures by researchers from the University of Iowa and beyond who explore science, the environment, prehistory, culture, and the interactions of such topics. A cross-section of UI departments are represented in the series each semester, including Anthropology, Geoscience, Environmental Science, Geography, Biological Sciences, and Engineering. Explorers seminars generally take place the third Thursday of the month at 7:00 p.m. in the Museum’s Biosphere Discovery Hub. Each program involves an approximately 45 minute presentation, followed by discussion and refreshments from Molly’s Cupcakes in Iowa City. 

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Makerspace Thursdays

Introducing Makerspace Thursdays, our newest program series!  

Do you like to create new things?  Join us for Makerspace Thursdays and unlock your inner architect, engineer, or artist.  Find new connections between technology, engineering, art, science, craft and creative problem solving while having fun with high-tech and low-tech tools.

All ages are welcome.  No reservations are needed, but supplies for some programs will be limited. 

Check individual program listings for dates, times, and locations, which may vary from month to month.

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Join us for movies and documentaries about science and nature!  All Movies@MNH showings are free and open to the public, and are typically held on Sundays at 3 p.m. in Macbride Auditorium (2nd Floor).  

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Night at the Museum

Trek through the Museum of Natural History after dark for a fun evening of discovery! Each month, we explore a different area of science, technology, history, and culture with interactive demonstrations, fun activities, and hands-on materials. Each child will receive an official MNH Miner Helmet with head lamp to keep, and the group will traverse the darkened mammal gallery as part of the evening’s activities. Museum staff, volunteers, and occasionally UI scientists and scholars lead each program. Parents drop off children at the beginning of the night and pick them up when the program is over.

There is a fee for this program and advance registration is required. The program is designed for children in grades 1-5. 

Gilbert Street Papa John’s Pizza in Iowa City sponsors Night at the Museum.

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Pentacrest Museums Family Weekend

Every April, join us for family fun and activities at the Old Capitol Museum and the UI Museum of Natural History.

Family Weekend

Pentacrest Museums Summer Camp

Join us for a week long summer camp at the Museum of Natural History! Campers will enjoy games, lessons, and activities. Each day will explore a period of time from our past. 

Participants will bring their own lunch each day, snacks provided. Summer Camp is intended for children from grades 1-5. Register by March 1 for the early bird rate of $150 per camper.  After March 1, the cost is $195 per camper.  Register here.

Summer Camp

Read on the Rug

Bring your toddler to enjoy a story and related activities at the Pentacrest Museums! Read on the Rug is recommended for ages 2-4, and children must be accompanied by an adult for the duration of the program.

Cost is free, space is limited to ten and advance signup is required so we have space and materials for everyone.  Please sign up using the link in each program listing or by emailing

Read on the Rug typically alternates between the Old Capitol Museum and the Museum of Natural History.  Check individual program listings for each month's location.

Read on the Rug

The Fossil Guy: Paleontology Programs for Children

Don Johnson, "The Fossil Guy," brings his popular hands-on children’s programs on paleontology to the Museum Of Natural History. All "Fossil Guy" programs are free and open to the public and will be held in Macbride Hall auditorium. Each program consists of a 30-minute talk by Johnson, a local avocational paleontologist, followed by 30 minutes of hands-on interactive time with Don’s collection of fossils and replicas. Presentations are geared toward children ages 5 and up and their families. 

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UIMNH Escape Room

A mystery is afoot at the UI Museum of Natural History. Curator and Professor Charles Nutting’s brief case  went missing in 1897.  Over the course of more than a centuary many of the University's brightest minds have searched for it in vain.  
This brief case contains important documentation about many of the specimens on exhibit.  Without the documentation, the future of the exhibits is uncertain.  You & your team of 5 will have 60 minutes to crack codes, solve clues, & solve puzzles throughout the gallery and find the long lost briefcase. Are you up to the challenge?

• Build your team, choose a date, choose a time on the hour, and register here!  Team fees are $35 (UI students are $25)
• At this time we cannot take walk-ins. All reservations must be made online in advance.  Bookings for a given day close at midnight the night before.
• The UI MNH Escape Room is designed for those 12 and over. A supervising adult must accompany players under 16 years of age.
Please plan to arrive 10 minutes before your start time. Gallery doors cannot be reopened once the game begins.
• Bring your best wits & detective skills because cell phone use is not permitted in the Escape Room!

Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to attend all University of Iowa-sponsored events. If you are a person who requires an accommodation in order to participate in this program, please contact Julia DeSpain in advance at (319) 335-1508.