Children in the Imaginarium bird nest
Children in the Mollusc Gallery
Children completing an inquiry activity in the Imaginarium

What to Look For

Main Gallery

The heart of the Hefner Museum is the Main Gallery, 100 Upham Hall. It features an engaging array of permanent and rotating exhibits and displays, and showcases many of the Hefner's most beloved specimens, including a great Kodiak bear, a passenger pigeon, mammoth bones, and a manatee. Highlights include the following:

The Vernal Pool: A Spring Phenomenon

This diorama features a vernal pool, a seasonal wetland that provides essential breeding ground for many amphibians. Modeled after a vernal pool in Adams County, Ohio, the exhibit depicts the activities and interactions among the animals that inhabit this endangered ecosystem.

What's In A Name? Classifying Organisms

Have you ever wondered why and how biologists classify animal life? What's In A Name? Classifying Organisms explains how animals are classified and named, and it provides visitors with a sense of the enormous diversity of the animal world, from insects to mammals.

Ohio: Where The Wild Things Are

Some of our state's most elusive animals are featured in Ohio: Where The Wild Things Are. Get nose-to-nose with a black bear cub or a river otter. Learn about the endangered hellbender salamander and other native species trying to survive and thrive in the wilds of Ohio.

Touch Boxes

Two cedar chests encourage visitors to touch and examine many different animal specimens and artifacts–from antlers to fossils to shells.

The Egg Case

In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the colllection of bird eggs was a popular pasttime in the young United States. Oxford resident Clark Lloyd (1883-1980) built this cabinet to house his extensive collection of nests and egg clutches. It contains a fascinating array of specimens from the United States and England, collected primarily from the late 1880s to the 1930s.

The Naturalist's Desk

A naturalist active in Southwest Ohio in the late nineteenth century might have worked in a space such as this one. The furnishings–desk, chair, and easels–all date to the period, as do the eyeglasses, books, painting, telescope, and microscopes.

The Web of Life

The Web Of Life is a three-part exhibit that explores the ways in which all life is interconnected. Not So Long Ago: The Ice Age in Ohio looks at the web of life through time. Interactions Among Organisms: Predation looks at the web of life among specific animals. Winged Threads: Neotropical Migratory Birds looks at the web of life through space.

Home: We All Live Somewhere!

Home: We All Live Somewhere! features a wide variety of animal homes such as nests, honeycombs, shells, and cocoons. It also explores the concepts of ecosystems and biomes–the larger homes in which humans and other organisms live.

Environmental Modification and An Environmental Ethic

Environmental Modification explores the ways in which all organisms, particularly humans, modify the Earth and the consequences of that modification. It includes a small diorama of a coral reef and an exhibit that compares artifacts from Native American middens (trash heaps) with items found in a contemporary landfill. An Environmental Ethic suggests ways to preserve and protect nature.

The Center Cabinet

The center cabinet of the Main Gallery features many of the specimens in the Museum's mammal collection, including animals familiar to residents of Southwest Ohio, such as raccoons and squirrels, as well as those that are less familiar, such as mink and badger. Several of the museum's most beloved specimens are displayed on top of the cabinet, including the lower jawbone of a mammoth, a manatee skeleton, and a platypus skeleton.

The Cycle of Life

This freestanding diorama depicts the cycle of life in an old field in the Midwest. The model is 12 times larger than life, so visitors get a close-up view of the plants and animals, including a white-footed mouse, burying beetles, an earthworm, wireworms, and nematodes.

Hoofs, Horns, Antlers, and Claws

Adjoining the Main Gallery, Hoofs, Horns, Antlers, and Claws highlights the amazing biodiversity of ungulates (hoofed animals) from around the world. An endowment from Richard E. and Dorothy Francis made possible this exhibit, which features an extensive collection of hoofed animal mounts and a large Kodiak bear.

The Paul M. Daniel Classroom

The Paul Daniel Classroom (106 Upham Hall) is a primary gathering place at the Center and is used for group inquiries, hands-on activities, and workshops. Exhibits around the room highlight the diversity within animal groups: coral, sponges, insects, fish, amphibians, reptiles, and birds.

The Imaginarium

Designed with young children in mind, the Imaginarium (112 Upham Hall) is an interactive space where children explore and learn about animals and habitats. The large ecosystem murals and magnetic animal pictures, animal costumes, larger-than-life bird nest, model decomposing log, and beehive all invite children to play and discover.

The Mollusc Gallery

Opened in 2011, the Mollusc Gallery houses more than 25,000 specimens from marine, freshwater, and terrestrial habitats. The exhibits in this beautiful pearl of a space was largely designed by Miami undergraduates in a professional writing class taught by Dr. Jean Lutz of the Department of English.