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7 less-famous natural history museums worth a visit

By: Matt Hickman on July 1, 2013, 11:03 a.m.
Carnegie Museum of Natural History cretcaceous seaway

Photo: Carnegie Museum of Natural History

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Carnegie Museum of Natural History

Established: 1896 in Pittsburgh, Pa.

Head count: About 300,000 annual visitors; more than 21 million specimens on display or in archives
Beyond the fossils: Gemstones! Giant stuffed polar bears! There are millions of non-paleo-centric specimens — and an impressive number of school group-friendly attractions — to be found within 20 galleries of the Carnegie Museum of Natural History. Highlights include the Alcoa Foundation Hall of American Indians, the Wyckoff Hall of Arctic Life, the Walton Hall of Ancient Egypt and an itch-inducing exhibition called BugWorks that closes at the end of July.

However, there’s no denying that this storied Pittsburgh institution is best known for flexing considerable muscle in the paleontology department. Boasting the largest collection of Jurassic dinosaurs in the world and the third-largest collection of mounted, displayed 'saurs in the U.S., prehistoric remains are the piece de resistance at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, which, despite its status as one of the top five natural history museums in the nation, doesn’t boast the patronage of its brethren in Washington, D.C., and New York City.