Freesearch Friday: Livingroom Life Science with KU Natural History Museum

above: Maria Sibylla Merian, detail from Metamorphosis insectorum Surinamensium

I’m going to say something that will surprise no one: I’ve always been an indoor kid. I’m pale and itchy, with a level of paleness and itchiness that no amount of SPF or hydrocortisone can combat. I hate swimming. I hate your barbecue. I hate summer.

My inaptitude for scenic tolerance has made me a warrior of the windowless job, a prize fighter of 500 page novels, and a top tier consumer of campaign-based board games. And yet, give me a folio of naturalist prints, and I’m set to study for hours (from my sofa, of course).

Enter the Natural History Museum, a well-shaded answer to my theoretical birdwatching dreams. The specimens! The careful typography! The Audubon plates! Even for me, living indoors has its limits, and lucky for all of us, the University of Kansas Natural History Museum has digital programming for the armchair entomologist and the small scientist alike!

Our friends at the Natural History museum have invited you to join in the following fun. No sunhat required, I promise.

Visit the Museum From Home

A new Museum From Home page offers a range of DIY activites for livingroom life science. Why be bored when you can “be a bambiraptor”? I was particularly captivated by the scavenger hunt, an I spy adventure using images from the Exploring Biodiversity exhibit. After scanning through the dark, soothing, online halls of articulated skeletons, a quick scroll through the Fungal Facts page gave me a new vocabulary. I have an inner fridge mass that is convex, filaform, and filimentous, and I have upgraded my concern from “I’ll deal with that tomorrow” to a pervasive and unrelenting fear.

Click Through the Digital Collection

If you feel like yesterday, today, and tomorrow are just blending together like the Instagram feed you just can’t keep scrolling, take a break and browse the digital collections. The range of textures, forms, and patterns are limitless and absorbing, and highly recommended for any artist at home. Images of flora, fauna, and fossils have been pulled from the institution’s over 11 million specimens, and are sure to inspire even the most pixel weary into making a sketch or two.

Take a Book Break

And, speaking of scientific illustration, the museum’s Storybook Science program offers live readings for young backyard biologists. Join KU Natural History Museum’s Education Coordinator, Colleen MacGilvray, every Wednesday at 10 AM on the KU Natural History Museum’s Facebook Page, for STEAM education through storytelling, scientific fact, and hands-on activities! All readings can be found Live on the KU Natural History Museum Facebook Page

Wednesday, April 22, 10:00 am 
Featured Book: Up the Creek by Nicholas Oldland

Wednesday, April 29, 10:00 am
Featured Book: Walk on the Wild Side by Nicholas Oldland

Wednesday, May 6,10:00 am
Featured Book: Wisdom the Midway Albatross by Darcy Pattison

Wednesday, May 13, 10:00 am
Featured Book: Grandmother Fish by Jonathan Tweet

And Who Doesn’t Need a Party Right Now? Bee There or Bee Square. 

On April 22nd, KU Natural History Museum will partner with the Watkins Museum of History for an Earth Day celebration! This virtual Facebook Live event will run from 10 AM to 4 PM. Join in the fun, including videos detailing the legacy of Earth Day, hands-on activities that engage the natural world, and information about local plants and pollinators.

Earth Day 50th Birthday Party

in partnership with the Watkins Museum of History

Thursday, April 22, 2020
10:00 am – 4:00 pm
Watkins Facebook Live 


Looking For More?

Please follow the KU Natural History Museum on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for updates on programming and events!



Did you find a particularly intriguing specimen, or a new favorite author? Let us know!
Until next Freesearch Friday,

Anne Luben