The Oakes Museum of Natural History
This section will include the answers to the most often asked questions about the museum. If you have a question for our staff, please e-mail us at OakesMuseum@messiah.edu.
What is The Oakes Museum of Natural History?
The Oakes Museum of Natural History is a 10,000-square-foot museum of natural history located in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania on the first two floors of Messiah College's Jordan Science Center.
What is there to see at The Oakes Museum of Natural History?
The Oakes Museum of Natural History houses a collection of Smithsonian-quality African and North American mammals, bird eggs, fish, seashells, minerals, insects and fossils. An anchor of the museum is the 200-specimen collection of African mammals, the largest of its kind in Pennsylvania, which features 75 full mounts, including an elephant, hippopotamus, zebra, giraffe and forest nyala.
Why is it named "The Oakes Museum" of Natural History?
The Oakes Museum of Natural History is named for generous support of Galen and Beulah Oakes of Massillon, Ohio. Galen Oakes is a 1948 graduate of Messiah College and a long-time member of Messiah's board of trustees, and his wife is a 1949 graduate of Messiah.
What are the museum's operating hours?The museum is open to the public on Saturdays - 1:00 to 5:00 p.m., except on major holidays and during college closures. School and other tour groups are scheduled year round by appointment.
Admission Prices for Public Hours:
How is the museum staffed?
The Oakes Museum of Natural History is directed by Ken Mark and staffed by an educational coordinator, teaching docents and volunteers. Many of our volunteers are Messiah College students. When the museum is open on Saturdays, trained volunteer docents are on duty to provide information about the displays and answer questions. Messiah College professors and local educators are volunteer curators for each major area of the museum.
What is the mission of the museum?
The Oakes Museum of Natural History, a regionally significant natural history museum, exists to educate the Messiah College community at large, to promote and practice the careful and responsible stewardship of God’s creation, to expand Messiah College’s interaction with the surrounding community, and to encourage scholarly research in education and the natural sciences.
How were the animals in your collection acquired?All of our mammal specimens came from private collections donated to the museum for use in our educational mission. The bird eggs and nests were primarily collected in the late 19th and early 20th centuries when such collecting was both legal and popular. They stand as irreplaceable evidence to many bird species that can no longer be disturbed.
How is this museum different from other museums?With more than 40,000 total specimens at The Oakes Museum of Natural History, we have the ability to customize the experience for each group that visits. We bring the specimens to life through docent interaction, exceptional dioramas, and connect visits with the natural ecosystems around campus.
How does the museum benefit the students of Messiah College?The Oakes Museum of Natural History provides an exceptional learning environment for Messiah college students in the sciences, the arts, business and education. We also serve faculty who have special course needs and provide students with unique internship and volunteer opportunities at the museum.