Oldest US natural history museum offers rare peek
Ned S. Gilmore, collections manager of vertebrate zoology, shows a Hellbender salamander, in the collection at the Academy of Natural Sciences Friday, March 23, 2012 in Philadelphia. The Academy is celebrating its bicentennial by offering the general public some rare behind-the-scenes tours of their some 18 million specimens for what's believed to be the first time in 200 years.
PHILADELPHIA —The Academy of Natural Sciences has never been one to brag.
Its 225,000 annual visitors may associate the nation's oldest natural history museum solely with dioramas and dinosaurs, but behind the scenes there is groundbreaking research conducted by world-renowned scientists and an enviable collection of some 18 million specimens representing all manner of animal, vegetable and mineral.
In celebration of its bicentennial this year, the museum has finally decided that it's OK to boast a little. For what's believed to be the first time in 200 years, curators will bring the public into the labyrinthine museum's normally off-limits nooks and crannies for daily tours.
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