Museum visitors to Philadelphia are usually familiar with two main science museums, the Franklin Institute, and the Academy of Natural Sciences. However, there is a little-know gem located north of center city close to Temple University, the Wagner Free Institute of Science.
What makes the Wagner Institute so fascinating is that the museum’s exhibit hall is nearly unchanged from how it appeared in the 19th Century. In it, you will find marvels of the time, such as fossils, skeletons and the first American sabre tooth tiger. Many of the specimens displayed are ‘type specimens” meaning that they are the first identification of a new species.
The Wagner Institute was founded in 1855 by its namesake William Wagner, a local merchant and natural history enthusiast. He believed that education for the sciences should be available to everyone and used to offer free lectures in his home. Once he opened the museum, the lectures moved there, and one of their most noted teachers was famous paleontologist Margaret Mead. The Museum is only open Monday through Thursday for self-guided tours, so if you are a big fan of science museums, be sure to make time to check out the Wagner Free Institute of Science.