About the Springfield Science Museum

Life size dinosaur at Dinosaur Hall

Museum History

The origins of the Springfield Science Museum go back to 1859, the same year that Charles Darwin published On the Origin of Species.

The Museum was established as the Springfield Ethnological and Natural History Museum, “a collection of specimens of natural history and a repository of arts and curiosities, a Museum, in fact, of curious or instructive objects.”The first collections were housed in a room in City Hall, then in the City Library building, and then in what is now the George Walter Vincent Smith Art Museum. In 1899, a new Museum of Natural History building opened.

The museum's Seymour Planetarium opened in 1937, the oldest American–built planetarium in the world!

The museum's Seymour Planetarium opened in 1937, the oldest American–built planetarium in the world. Its projected image of the sky was so accurate and realistic that the planetarium was used to train pilots in celestial navigation during World War II.

View of African Hall

The name of the museum was changed to the Springfield Science Museum in 1961 to reflect the country's entry into the space age and the museum's inclusion of physical science exhibits.

Museum Exhibits

Visitors to the Springfield Science Museum will find a world filled with the wonders of natural and physical science. Here are just a few highlights:

  • Dinosaur Hall with a full-size replica of Tyrannosaurus rex
  • R. E. Phelon African Hall with a huge African elephant, a giraffe, two lions, an ostrich, a rhino and many other animals. African Hall also offers a glimpse into the way of life of several traditional African cultures
  • Solutia Live Animal Center with live fish, insects, reptiles and amphibians in realistic habitats
  • Seymour Planetarium where you can take imaginary voyages to the farthest corners of the universe
  • Astronomy Hall where you can touch rocks from outer space
  • Native American Hall where you’ll see how New England Indians used to live

Several science-related clubs hold evening meetings at the museums:

Springfield Stars Club, Allen Bird Club, Naturalists' Club, Mineral Club & Explorers Club

Chosen Critter Adoption Program

The good health and survival of the animals in the Solutia Live Animal Center depend upon meeting specific nutritional needs, so we must provide them with carefully balanced diets. By adopting one or more of our Chosen Critters for one year, you will ensure that “your” animal receives exactly the food it needs. Individuals, businesses, clubs, schools, and civic groups are invited to choose a critter or ecosystem. Sponsorships make wonderful gifts for your animal-lover friends and family.

Participants receive:

  • A certificate announcing your “adoption”
  • A fascinating fact sheet on your animal
  • E-newsletters about Live Animal Center updates
  • A special visit with your Chosen Critter and the Museum aquarist (Museum members only)

For more information, call 413.263.6800, ext. 404, or email daugustino@springfieldmuseums.org.