Museum Musings

It's the "REEL" Deal

Not all IMAX® Theatres are created equal.

IMAX® Theaters can be found throughout Georgia, but Fernbank Museum’s IMAX® is not like the rest! So, what is it that sets us apart?

Fernbank Museum houses the only genuine IMAX® Theater in the city of Atlanta. Creating the IMAX® experience is about much more than film format. The entire theatre, including the screen and seating, are designed specifically for showing IMAX® movies. Below are some fun facts about Fernbank’s IMAX® Theatre.Generic IMAX by Boris.jpg

The Experience

  • Our films are incredibly realistic. Viewers are treated to a uniquely immersive experience, in which they are able to explore new places, creatures and cultures up-close.
  • Two major considerations when choosing a new IMAX® film are its storyline, and whether or not the film is relevant to Fernbank Museum’s mission. Fernbank often tries to choose films with storylines that mirror its special exhibitions.

The Screen & Sound

  • The screen in our IMAX® Theater is 55 ft tall and 72 ft wide. That means that it’s as tall as a five story building, with a width comparable to the length of a tennis court.
  • The screen has a unique concave shape, which helps to create a feeling of immersion when watching the film.
  • Fernbank’s IMAX® Theatre features state-of-the art surround sound. Viewers are treated to a film that tantalizes not only the eyes, but the ears as well.

The Film

  • Fernbank's Theatre continues to show movies shot in film, rather than digital format.
  • Films are shot on 70 mm film, with a frame size of 15/70. To those that aren’t up on  film jargon, this basically means that the film is bigger and allows for a much higher resolution than standard film, which is generally 35 mm with a frame size of 5/70.
  • Films are held on reels that weigh around 200 lbs. In order to move these reels, the IMAX® staff uses a small fork lift!
  • The Projector
  • IMAX® film requires a special projector that weighs over two tons and occupies the majority of the space in our projector room.

Be sure to check out our Expereince IMAX® page for a list of currently showing films and catch a flick on the biggest screen in town!

Did you know?
You can see the IMAX® projector room for yourself!

Located on the third floor of the Museum, across from Fernbank NatureQuest, there is a large window that allows guests to take a peek into the projector room. However, IMAX® staff only opens the window’s curtain for the 15 minute period between film showings. So, be quick, or you’ll miss your chance!

—Sam Marks, Communications and Marketing Intern


Written by Fernbank Museum at 13:54

UrbanWatch: Not Your Average Internship!

Michael groupMichael tree
Since graduating from Clayton State University in May 2012 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Biology focusing on Ecology, I have developed a new-found passion for environmental education. The UrbanWatch internship at Fernbank Museum has helped feed that passion and given me many opportunities to practice what I’ve learned and to educate guests about their surroundings.

Throughout the summer, I’ve spent a lot of time in the successional forest behind Fernbank Museum, working with the F.U.N. teen volunteers to remove invasive plants such as English ivy and wisteria. Most importantly, I’ve been familiarizing myself with the forest species to lead guided Nature Walks and to develop ideas for ecology activities. I’ve had many opportunities to find and identify a ton of awesome plants and animals in the woods. On my first morning pulling English ivy, I actually came across a copperhead, one of Georgia’s native venomous snakes. Luckily, we left it alone and it left us alone. We have also observed tons of fish (minnows mostly), frogs (probably some species of tree frogs), lots of little crayfish and even a couple eastern box turtles near and around the creek.

After learning about Fernbank Museum’s programs, I have also had opportunities to develop my own ideas for programming and activities. I worked with Marissa (another UrbanWatch intern) to develop Nature Walk themes for the weekly walks we’ve been leading behind the museum. We’ve also been able to build on the work that had previously been developed for the UrbanWatch programs, like working on the Fernbank Museum plant herbarium and creating activities that can be use to educate guests. An herbarium is a collection of plant samples that have been identified, press, preserved and mounted for viewing. When the herbarium is finally completed, it’ll be a great tool to help identify plants around Fernbank Museum, as well as Fernbank Forest!

I have really enjoyed the opportunities the UrbanWatch internship has presented because I have been able to practice my botanical research while interacting with guests in educational programs. I hope we’ll see you all at one of our future Nature Walks or forest programs!

—Michael Hanft, Summer 2012 UrbanWatch Intern

Written by Fernbank Museum at 10:44

A Toothy Adventure

The alligator tank in Fernbank NatureQuest is cleaned once a week, usually on Sunday. During this process, the alligators are put into individual containers for safe-keeping. The tank is drained and scrubbed and refilled with fresh water, just in time for Museum guests to arrive.

In anticipation of the upcoming "alligator swap," Animal Programs Manager Lynn A., decided to use this opportunity to weigh and measure the alligators. Here are few photos of this process.

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Animal Programs Manager, Lynn A. places one of the alligators inside a different plastic container sitting on a scale.

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The lid is closed and staff waits for the alligator to settle down a bit to get a more accurate reading. (The weight of the plastic container is subtracted from the total.)

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And now, it's time to measure length! This is the smallest of the three. It measured 25" and weighed 1.5lbs.

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This one's the medium of the bunch. It measured 26" and weighed 1.6lbs.

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And finally, for the largest of the trio, measuring 26" and weighing 1.7lbs.

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One last look, then the alligators were put back in their tank.

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OH NO! One of them got loose! Just kidding…

Be sure to visit these alligators before they leave on September 9. Want to have your own behind-the-scenes experience? Enter to win an Alligator Encounter!  

—Deanna Smith, Director of Marketing

Written by Fernbank Museum at 09:37

Educating—The Animal Way!

claire 2 (3).jpgMy summer has been filled with snakes, lizards and turtles, Oh MY!  As an animal programs intern for the special exhibition The Scoop on Poop, I have been learning and educating every day!  At the beginning of the internship, I didn’t realize Fernbank Museum had so many live animals. I also didn’t really know ‘how’ to handle a snake or lizard. After training with Fernbank’s animal keeper staff, I’ve been able to lead presentations with the live animals and handle them as we educate guests about animal conservation.

At Fernbank we have a live animal collection consisting of a mammal, some amphibians and mostly reptiles. During the first few weeks of the internship, I quickly warmed up to the smaller snakes in the animal collection. There are larger snakes I’m still getting to know such as the Ball python, Felix, who has a fierce look to him. Before becoming an intern I didn’t know much about snakes but after being around the animals I have learned a lot about them. For example, I now know that there are no python species native to North America.

Education is crucial, especially with reptiles. There are many things people may not realize about reptiles that are important to understanding them. This is one of the many reasons I have loved my time as an intern. Not only do I get to educate guest about the great things these animals have to show us, but I also get to spend personal time with them, meaning…I get to scoop their poop! Although it can sometimes be a dirty job, I thoroughly enjoy performing daily animal care tasks such as preparing salads for the lizards and turtles, collecting shed skin from an enclosure and feeding the amphibians their favorite food--bugs.

While animal care is an important part of my day, I always look forward to taking the animals out for a program. Despite my initial reaction to his menacing looks, I have quickly formed a bond with Felix and I always enjoy sharing him with guests. He is my go-to guy for animal encounters and he always puts on a good show!  When you next visit the Museum, you may even see Felix during a Live Animal Encounter!   

Editor’s note: Check the “Today at Fernbank” sign when you arrive to see a schedule of events like Animal Encounters.)

Claire Brummeler—The Scoop on Poop Animal Programs Intern

Written by Fernbank Museum at 16:20

The Scoop on Interning

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This summer has been the most exciting summer of my life. Why? Because I am an intern at Fernbank Museum of Natural History! The Museum offers a variety of diverse internship opportunities. Interns can gain valuable experience in everything from marketing to botany and even animal husbandry. As an animal programs intern I help care for the animal collection at the Museum. Tasks such as giving a boa a bath, feeding a skink a salad and cleaning up after a slippery salamander are all in a day’s work at Fernbank. But my favorite part of my internship is sharing the animals with the public through daily Animal Encounters.

Currently the museum is home to the special exhibit The Scoop on Poop. I never imagined the word “poop” would be present on my resume. But there it is sandwiched between the words scoop and intern! When working with animals there is always plenty of it to deal with. But don’t worry, you won’t have to clean up any when you visit the exhibit, that’s my job!  As an intern. my knowledge of this sometimes icky but always interesting topic has improved considerably. Did you know that petrified ancient poop is called a coprolite? This is just one of many interesting facts you will learn when you visit this summer.

The Museum is a great place to escape the heat. Make sure to check out a schedule of the daily activities so you can plan to stop by an animal encounter to meet a furry, scaly or slimy new friend. Hope to see you soon at the Museum!

—Kate Donlon, Education Programs Intern

Written by Fernbank Museum at 08:58
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!