Guest Author - Lynn Newcomb Gaziano
The Fairbanks Natural History Museum is located just off of Main Street in St. Johnsbury Vermont. The museum was opened in 1891 by businessman Franklin Fairbanks specifically to showcase his extensive collection of natural science specimens and artifacts.
Today the museum still looks much as it did in the 1900s and is home to thousands of birds and animals that have been preserved through taxidermy. Itís difficult to count all of the stuffed animals and birds in this museum but there are 75,000 natural science specimens of animals, insects, fossils and 95,000 historical artifacts and documents. Also included is a collection of mosaic art objects that are made up of thousands of dead bugs.
Under the same roof with all of these preserved relics from the Victorian era are exhibits that turn the visitorís attention from the earth beneath their feet and lift it toward the skies. There is an active weather station, planetarium and an internet based exhibit that allows viewers to witness current events happening in astronomy today. There are numerous educational opportunities provided by people who are experienced in meteorology and astronomy making the museum a great place to bring the kids.
The museum offers special programs, lectures, workshops and field trips all year long but many require preregistration so donít wait until the last minute if you are planning to visit.
The St. Johnsbury area is lovely in all four seasons. The town center is quaint despite being lined with large old Victorian buildings. The springtime is a great season to visit because it is Vermontís maple sugar season and there are many local farms where families can see how maple syrup and other products are produced.
Summertime in Vermont is great for hiking, bicycling and swimming. The fall of course is gorgeous all around St. Johnsbury and there is no finer leaf peeping anywhere in New England. In winter there are a number of ski areas close to the town, the closest being Burke Mountain.
The Fairbanks Natural History Museum is open from 9AM Ė 5 PM Tuesday - Saturday from November until March and from 9AM - 5PM Monday - Saturday from April until October. The museum is open on Sundays from 1-5PM all year round. There is a fee for admission and an additional fee for planetarium shows.
Directions from Boston:
Take I-93 North to I-91. Take I-91 North (1/4 mile) to Exit 20. Bear right onto US 5 North. Take first left turn and proceed up the hill to stop sign. Proceed 2 blocks beyond stop sign. Museum is on the right.