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“Needs a little sprucing up”

Museum of Natural History
Ranked #6 of 26 things to do in Iowa City
Certificate of Excellence
More attraction details
Attraction details
Owner description: Explore our world at the University of Iowa Museum of Natural History- Iowa’s gateway to the global environment for over 150 years. Walk through 500 million years of our natural and cultural heritage, culminating in the landscape we see today and how it affects the story of agriculture. Discover the adaptation and diversity of birds and mammals around the planet.
Clearwater, Florida
Level Contributor
313 reviews
109 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 166 helpful votes
“Needs a little sprucing up”
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 25 September 2011

I wouldn't quite call this a legitimate museum. It's located in a building on the University of Iowa campus, and is split in half by a huge lecture hall that was in use while I was there so you had to walk all the way down to the ground floor to get up the other side of the museum. The main attractions seem to be the Hall of Birds and the Hall of Mammals. Each had a really extensive collection of taxidermy, as well as skeletons of many of the animals. These animals seem like they've been around for a LONG time, and several were faded and cracking. There was a whale skeleton suspended from the ceiling, which was pretty awesome. Most of the museum looked like it hadn't been touched for at least 40 years though. It was free so I'm not going to complain too much, but I would have gladly paid a small admission fee if I knew it would go towards keeping the place maintained and up-to-date.

Visited September 2011
Thank Nyllie
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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73 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
Date | Rating
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English first
Level Contributor
17 reviews
6 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
“Fun but a little dated”
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 12 September 2011

This is a nice place to visit if you're looking for something to do in IOwa City. Much of the exihib is from the 50s and 60s and is just a little dated.

Visited June 2011
Thank jmh7946
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
South Bend, IN
Level Contributor
33 reviews
26 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 34 helpful votes
“Shows its Age, but Worth Doing”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 2 August 2011

The Museum is housed in a beautiful Beaux-arts building with intricate carvings on the outside that supposedly represent "all the vertebrate classes" as well as "geographic and economic themes". I dunno about that, but we had a fun time figuring out the various critters (the fact that they're high up and my vision isn't the best made this more of a challenge than it would be for most).

The Museum is clearly based on various collections typical of the late Victorian era into the early 1900's, as well as dioramas that perhaps don't go that far back. The American Indian displays seem more modern to me, but tucked here and there throughout the museum are more modern displays, such as one in the Bird Hall where you can listen to bird calls and identify (or misidentify) them.

I tend to get bored with just static displays, while after a bit hubby and eldest tend to be more interested in how they achieve the effect ("Look, levitating fish! Stand here, you can juuuust barely see the string; I think they painted it"), but the museum is small enough we enjoyed all of it (the Hall of Mammals was not open, however).

The campus is beautiful and the price is right -- free! There's also a small gift shop with some fun stuff. Give it a try, and if it isn't worth your time, there's always the shops across the street. Prairie Lights bookstore is just a block away. ;)

Visited July 2011
Thank hobbitmom
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Tampa, Florida
Level Contributor
7 reviews
7 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
“It's free and about 1/4 of Field Museum in size.”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 2 June 2011

If you only spent time on the 1st floor and judged this museum, you were totally wrong. Don't skip Bird Hall and Mammal Hall on two side of the third floor.

Visited March 2011
3 Thank YingHuaWho
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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