Every school has its own mascot, but the University of Iowa has a few extra and unusual ones, like Rusty the Giant Sloth. A towering mass of furry, friendly redness, this taxidermy-esque replication of the extinct beast is one of the many fun hallmarks of the university’s Museum of Natural History.
Rusty’s ice age exhibit is just one of the many fun areas to explore at the Museum of Natural History. Using compelling dioramas, taxidermies, and other visual displays to make you feel as if you have stepped into another time and place, the museum takes you on a journey both through Iowa’s rich natural history and around the globe. You can take a dive under the sea that once covered Iowa, stroll through a primeval forest, or view a 360-degree panorama of Hawaii’s exotic Laysan Island atoll and its vibrant seabirds from the turn of the 20th century.
As the oldest university museum west of the Mississippi, the Museum of Natural History strives to remain actively engaged with the university and the public through various outreach programs. By picking up one of the available TREKsacks by the front entrance, you can participate in scavenger hunts and other hands-on activities while touring the museum. Also, keep an eye out for special public events like the monthly “night at the museum” tours, complete with interactive demonstrations and fun activities for the whole family.
Free and open to the public throughout the year (though a donation is always welcome), the museum is the perfect place to casually drop in when you have a moment. Situated on the Pentacrest area of the campus, the museum offers a vantage point for you to continue to explore more of the campus and city, perhaps visiting other museums such as the Old Capitol Museum, shopping at the Old Capitol Mall/Town Center, or maybe instead touring the scenic downtown “Ped Mall” adjacent to the campus.
Whether you’re a student at the University of Iowa yourself or just someone stopping by to visit the campus or city, the school’s Museum of Natural History is a fun place to explore and learn more about Iowa’s rich natural landscape and cultural history.