Museum Musings

Goose Bumps! The Science of Fear Opening Day 

In celebration of the opening of Fernbank’s new exhibition Goose Bumps! The Science of Fear, the Museum offered a day of fun, hands-on activities designed to complement the themes highlighted in the exhibition.

Here are some highlights:

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Guests were given the opportunity to see and interact with animal ambassadors from Fernbank’s live animal collection. Pictured: FUN volunteer Amanda M. holds a Madagascar Hissing Cockroach.

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Guests were also invited to make their own mini-monster puppet using googly eyes, fuzzy sticks, feathers and their imaginations. Picture: FUN volunteer Audrey Hayes 

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Special guests from rom the Neurobiology of Fear Lab from Yerkes National Primate Research Center at Emory joined the fun, giving guests an opportunity to see and hold actual brains!

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Guests, and Giggy, had fun using props at the selfie booth, which also printed Goose Bumps souvenir prints!

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The day was also filled with face painting, a phobia matching game and lots of giggles as guests explored the spectacular exhibition.

Goose Bumps! The Science of Fear is on view through on January 4, 2015. Make sure you come explore this exciting, interactive exhibition!
—Brittany Loggins, Marketing and Public Relations Coordinator

Written by Fernbank Museum at 17:26

IMAX Ticket Giveaway

Giggy -Fernbank CHILLSSnap a pic, win some tix! Whether it’s a silly selfie or frighteningly funny group shot, we want to see your photos from the Goose Bumps! The Science of Fear photo stop. 

Share your photo on Twitter or Instagram using the #FernbankCHILLS, or post directly to our Facebook page and automatically be entered to win 2 free IMAX® tickets! 

Caution: Make induce serious giggles.

Need inspiration? Check out our #FernbankCHILLS gallery.

—Deanna Smith, Director of Marketing

Written by Fernbank Museum at 14:05

Volunteer of the Month: October

Eugene -Wilson -300We are pleased to honor Eugene Wilson as our October Volunteer of the Month.

Eugene Wilson has spent much of his 17 years with the Museum working behind the scenes. He began by assisting with the preparation and maintenance of taxidermy, and when that department closed he was quickly recruited as a volunteer with the Facilities Department. Since then, he has kept busy installing and deconstructing exhibitions, making repairs throughout the building and assisting in the workshop.

An avid hunter and angler, Eugene enjoys traveling across both North and Central America seeking salmon, halibut, deer and duck. He has traveled to Alaska on nine occasions for whale watching and fishing near Glacier Bay, and is headed to Montana later this year. His favorite part of volunteering at Fernbank is working with his great friend Jerry Washington, Vice President of Facilities.

Learn more about volunteer opportunities at Fernbank Museum. You can also call us at 404.929.6360 or e-mail

Written by Fernbank Museum at 09:58

Volunteer of the Month: September

Sept -2014-VOTMWe are pleased to honor Renee McConnell as our September Volunteer of the Month.

While Renee has only been volunteering with the Museum for about 18 months, her Fernbank story starts nearly twenty years ago. She first came to the Museum as part of her son's field trip and the impact of that first visit has remained with her. After her son left for college, Renee returned to the Museum as one of our valued Polaris members, assisting as an IMAX® attendant and special events volunteer.

She loves volunteering, and appreciates opportunity it gives to expand her knowledge and to experience both the wonders of nature and the intricacies of different cultures. Her favorite moment at the Museum comes from this year's Reptile Day. She was able to overcome her fear of snakes by observing them closely and asking questions of the exhibitors. "I am very proud that I pushed past my fear to create a long lasting memory," she said.

Learn more about volunteer opportunities at Fernbank Museum. You can also call us at 404.929.6360 or e-mail

See photos from Reptile Day 2014.

Written by Fernbank Museum at 16:27

A Nature Invasion

Meg -and -ivy -pile

EEEK! You've most definitely seen them and they are probably in your own front yard: invasive plants! You know, English ivy, monkey grass, privet, etc. Now raise your hand if you think removing invasive plant species is one of the most important things you can do to help protect our environment. If not, that's okay, bear with me. If you did pat yourself on the back.

I have had the opportunity to work in Fernbank Forest and the Forest Overlook to take the next step toward earning my Girl Scout Gold Award. This is the highest award that can be earned and is equivalent to the Eagle Scout Award earned by Boy Scouts. The first step of my project was simply to help remove invasive plant species, which ended up being mostly monkey grass. I had no idea that one species could be so stubborn. I learned that if you don't remove ALL the roots, your work will have been for naught. I found myself spotting and identifying invasive species on my drive home. It was then that I began realizing what a pervasive problem these plants truly are.

Here's your crash course in invasive plant species. They don't start out as invasive species. They are introduced from other areas, either to serve a purpose, because they look pretty (which really happens), or by accident. They are removed from an environment where they have natural control factors and are introduced to a new habitat where there are none. Thus, given the proper conditions, they spread like wildfire, resulting in our fields of English ivy, kudzu, monkey grass, and wisteria.

So what? Why is this such a big deal? Well these kinds of plants outcompete other plants, reducing biodiversity and threatening unique native species. Also, once they push out the native species, the animals that ate those plants either move away from the area in search of food, or cannot survive. The introduction of an invasive plant species completely disrupts the balance of an ecosystem.

So what to do? Use pesticides or other chemicals to kill the plant? Preferably not. The most eco-friendly way, and the way I've removed these buggers, is the old fashioned dig-and-pull method. It may sound like yard work, but it's actually very satisfying. Not to mention the fact that you're making a meaningful impact on your local community. It takes sweat and determination, but something as little as removing that patch of ivy in your front yard could make a big difference well beyond your immediate environment.

These plants don't spread strictly by growing. Their seeds are eager to travel and animals pick them up on their fur or eat them as their travel agents, depositing the seeds into another area and giving the plant a new opportunity to invade. These invasive plants may be directly deposited in an area as well as introduced by animals and other factors, placing the special trees and plants that make up our natural landscape at risk. That's why, just by making our own yards native, we can help protect the amazing ecosystems that surround us.

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I am currently working through the next phase of my project and am excited to develop an activity for our Discovery Carts about forest ecology, getting me a step closer to earning the Gold Award and a great experience educating others. If you have a passion for restoration and natural areas, I encourage you become a Restoration Volunteer at Fernbank. Learn more.

—Meg Withers, Environmental Education Intern

Written by Fernbank Museum at 13:52
Welcome to the official blog of Fernbank Museum of Natural History. This blog is an opportunity for the people that keep Fernbank running and constantly expanding, to share stories from their point of view. We hope you’ll enjoy these first-hand, behind-the-scenes glimpses of what goes into keeping a world-class natural history museum running. As always, we’d love to hear your feedback on these stories, to hear your personal experiences and hear any suggestions for topics. Happy reading!