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Paper No. 7
Presentation Time: 9:45 AM


ALLMON, Warren D., Paleontological Research Institution, 1259 Trumansburg Road, Ithaca, NY 14850-1398 and ROSS, Robert M., Paleontological Research Institution, 1259 Trumansburg Road, Ithaca, NY 14850,

The Museum of the Earth opened in 2003 in Ithaca, New York, as the main public exhibit and education facility of the Paleontological Research Institution (PRI). PRI was founded in 1932, almost exclusively to serve the relatively narrow audience of invertebrate paleontologists, and without any significant public outreach function or vision. In 1992, PRI dramatically expanded its mission to include public education and outreach, starting with K-12 classroom programs, teacher professional development, and informal Earth science programs. These "outside-the-museum" programs continued after 2003, and now act synergistically with exhibits and programs "inside the museum", with the combined goals of efficiency, integration, and coherent redundancy.

We conceive paleontology to be the broadest of disciplines, connecting to almost all of the Earth and life sciences, interacting with a broad swath of Earth system sciences. Accordingly, exhibits and programs in the Museum of the Earth are similarly broad. The Museum is also the major natural history museum between New York City and Buffalo. Our view of our subject material is therefore -- like our programming structure -- also holistic and integrated. Within this overarching conception, we have two areas of major thematic focus: evolution and global change. Because of intense local interest, we have also recently begun a major outreach initiative on natural gas in the Marcellus Shale.

Programming both in- and outside the Museum focuses on helping audiences to understand processes of doing science (historical science in particular), and through making the stuff of science (collections specimens, field experiences) widely accessible. Permanent and temporary exhibits in the Museum explore major conceptual themes through the story of the history of the Earth and its life with a focus on the geology and fossils of the Northeastern U.S. Outside the Museum, we have several national-scale programs in both K12 and informal educator professional development. Our website (, another of our major outreach tools, contains information on these and other initiatives.

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