This post covers a visit to the Harvard Natural History Museum, including details on tickets, discounts, exhibits, and more.
The Harvard Natural History Museum was created to be the “public face” of three Harvard research museums — the Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard Mineralogical and Geological Museum, and the Harvard University Herbaria.
The museum offers a creative educational experience in a unique, intimate setting and each of the exhibits draw on Harvard University’s natural history collections.
As a bonus, Harvard’s research faculty provides expertise for the museum's many programs for members as well as the general public.
The programs are designed to encourage the exchange of information and ideas.
In fact, with more than 200,000 visitors in 2012, the Harvard Museum of Natural History is the University’s most-visited museum.
The museum is open from 9:00 am - 5:00 pm each day, and there are several ways to pay for admission which we will cover below in our tickets section.
There are also many opportunities to either save money on admission or get in for free! Check our discounts section for more details about these deals.
There are three ways to purchase admission for the Harvard Museum of Natural History: At the ticket booth, online, or with a tourist attraction discount pass.
Tourist passes allow to skip the ticket line and depending on how you use them, you can save up to 50% off general admission prices.
NOTE: These tickets also grant you admission to the Peabody Museum of Archaeology & Ethnology!
- $15/Adults | $10/Youth (3-18) | $13/Seniors
- Non-Harvard Students w/ ID: $10
- Kids under the age of 3 get in free.
- Current Harvard ID holders (+1 guest) get in free.
There are actually several ways to get into the Harvard Museum of Natural History without paying a dime, but most of them require you to be either a Massachusetts resident or a Harvard student.
- Harvard Students who have a current ID are granted free admission, and they can also bring one guest with them at no extra cost!
- Massachusetts Teachers (K-12) are granted free admission to the museum.
- Residents of Massachusetts who have an EBT card will receive free admission with up to 5 guests.
- Massachusetts residents are granted free admission every Sunday morning from 9 am - 12 pm and every Wednesday afternoon from 3 pm - 5 pm from September to May. Proof of residency is required.
If you happen to fit any of these descriptions, make sure to bring the proper identification with you before heading to the museum.
There are a few other ways to save money on tickets.
Admission to the Harvard Museum of Natural History is currently included in every major tourist attraction discount pass offered in Boston.
These services can be used to save anywhere from 20% - 50% off dozens of popular activities.
There are currently four different types of passes in Boston: all-inclusive, flex, prepackaged and build your own pass. Each option works differently, so it will be important to consider how you plan to explore the city.
The build your own pass option is probably the easiest, as you only have to purchase tickets for 2 activities or attractions in order to save 20% off both.
If you’re prepared to spend entire days exploring Boston, you may want to consider an all-inclusive pass instead.
These passes cover admission to dozens of attractions for a specific amount of time (1, 2, 3, 5, or 7 days).
As long as you use this type of pass for at least 4-5 attractions or tours per day, you should be able to save at least 25% - 50% off general admission prices.
If you use it for even more, you could save over 50% off!
The prepackaged pass is a nice alternative that covers the cost of a handful of specific attractions or activities.
Depending on how you use it, you can save up to 45% off normal ticket prices.
With all that said, it will be important to consider what types of tours, museums, and other attractions you might want to use your tourist pass to enjoy.
Here are a few of the more popular services included:
- Hop on Hop off Trolley |
- Boston Bike Tours |
- New England Aquarium |
- New England Aquarium Whale Watch |
- Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum |
- Boston Children’s Museum |
- Peabody Essex Museum |
- Museum of Fine Arts |
- Museum of Science |
- Boston Duck Tour |
- And more!
For more information about these services or to purchase one, please read our post covering Boston tourist passes.
The Harvard Natural History Museum is part of the Blue Star Museum program funded by the National Endowment for the Arts.
This means that active-duty military and their families are granted free admission to the museum year-round with the presentation of a military ID.
And by the way, thank you for your service!
If you’re a Massachusetts resident, you can save some money on tickets by visiting your local library.
Boston and Cambridge's libraries offer museum passes that grant admission to both the Harvard Natural History Museum and the Peabody Museum of Archaeology & Ethnology for just $6!
The only catch is that you must be a resident or have a library card in order to receive this museum pass.
In addition to whatever deal you may be able to find on these discount sites, they usually also offer coupon codes for an extra 10% - 20% off – or more!
This section details some of the most interesting exhibits you’ll find at the Harvard Natural History Museum, including information about what you can expect to see at each exhibit.
Earth & Planetary Sciences Gallery
This newly renovated gallery displays thousands of rare minerals and sparkling gemstones in both rough and cut examples, including a 1,600-pound amethyst geode from Brazil.
Visitors can touch rock and mineral specimens that date back to the beginning of our solar system.
Your family can uncover the mysteries of our planet’s origins, revealed in ancient meteorites and terrestrial rock.
The Glass Flowers
One of the Museum’s most famous treasures is the internationally acclaimed Ware Collection of Blaschka Glass Models of Plants, the renowned “Glass Flowers.”
Glass artisans Leopold Blaschka and his son, Rudolph, created this unique collection of over 3,000 intricate models.
The commission began in 1886, continued for five decades, and represents more than 830 plant species.
The Museum recently installed several Blaschka glass models from the Ware Collection that have not been seen at Harvard for over a decade.
New England Forests
This exhibit is a multi-media exhibition that explores the natural history and ecology of our regional forests, their responses to human activity, and their environmental significance.
Visitors are invited to explore the ecology of woodland caribou, wolves, and other wildlife of New England; learn about lichen cities that cling to rocks; and the circle of life within and around a forest pond from tiny aquatic insects to giant moose.
With a collection of rare and incredible fossils dating back to the Cenozoic Era, this exhibition reveals what life was like during the Age of Mammals, which directly followed the extinction of the dinosaurs.
Guests can expect to see the skeletons of animals such as mammoths, monster cats, and many other incredible creatures that once walked the face of our planet.
Not to be outdone by the New England Aquarium, the Harvard Natural History Museum actually houses their own recreation of the various types of marine life you can find in this area of the world.
While visiting this exhibition, you’ll have the opportunity to see glowing jellies, a giant sea turtle, dozens of fish, mollusks, crustaceans, corals, and other organisms found just off the shores of New England.