Holidays at Carnegie Museum of Natural History

Holidays at Carnegie Museum of Natural History

A perfect fit for your holiday itinerary in Pittsburgh

It’s chilly outside, hot chocolate tastes the best it will all year, and it’s time to think about the festive activities you’ll do with your friends and family. If you love nature and science, a trip to Carnegie Museum of Natural History is a delight at the holidays.

Fluorescent Christmas Ore

Christmas Ore
Christmas Ore. Credit: Debra Wilson.

Head to the Fluorescence and Phosphorescence exhibit in Hillman Hall of Minerals and Gems to decorate a mineral for the holidays. Shine shortwave ultraviolet light on the specimen of calcite (tan color), willemite (brown color), and franklinite (black color) on display to see the calcite glow red and the willemite glow green. This fluorescent mineral is aptly nicknamed Christmas Ore.

See Relatives of Santa’s Reindeer

Did you know reindeer are real mammals that are the same species as caribou? You can see them throughout the northern reaches of the Northern Hemisphere including Scandinavia, Canada, and Alaska. Get an up-close look at barren-ground caribou in a snow scene in the museum’s Hall of North American Wildlife.

Christmas Trees and Festive Flavors

Learning doesn’t begin and end at the museum entrance. The museum’s Botany researchers regularly write and make videos about plants for the museum’s blog and social media channels. Enjoy these selections before you go and see whether you can find any of these species in the exhibits.

Participate in the Rector Christmas Bird Count

Whether you think birding might be fun to try or you’re a seasoned birder, the annual Christmas Bird Count is a fun way to participate in community-driven science. Every year, participants count birds on a specific day in a pre-determined 15-mile-diameter circle; the event spans nearly 3,000 count circles in the Western Hemisphere. 

The data collected helps researchers monitor the health of bird populations and determine where conservation action is needed. In 2023, Powdermill Nature Reserve, the museum’s environmental research center in Pennsylvania’s scenic Laurel Highlands, is hosting the Rector Christmas Bird Count on December 16, including a workshop for new participants