Public Hours

  • Saturdays 1-5 p.m.
  • School/Tour groups
    by appointment only


Admission Prices

Adults: $6.50

Children (4-18): $4.00

Seniors (55+): $4.00

Children 3 & under are admitted free

All major credit cards accepted

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FAQs About

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


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.

The North American mammal collection has more than 100 specimens including a Kodiak Island bear, great elk, American bison and a musk ox. Full mounts of mountain sheep, goats and mountain lions are also on exhibit.

The museum has more than 200 bird nests and 17,000 bird eggs, which is the third largest private collection of bird eggs in the United States. The egg collection contains rare and valuable specimens, including irreplaceable South American tinamou eggs and passenger pigeon eggs. The cataloged collection of birds includes 300 full-mounted specimens.

The museum also features six dioramas created by renowned artists Jerry Connolly and John Schreffler. Jerry Connolly is a career wildlife artist who has painted more than 130 diorama backgrounds and wildlife scenes in more than 30 museums nationwide, including the Smithsonian Museums of Natural History and Technology, the William Penn Museum, and the Carnegie Museum. John Schreffler is a commercial artist who studied scientific preparation of animals under Watson Perrygo, the chief preparator of natural science at the Smithsonian Institute. He has worked for the Pennsylvania state museum as an artist and preparator for more than 30 years, completing 25 full-size dioramas.


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.

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Admission Prices for Public Hours: 
$6.50 - Adults; 
$4.00 - Children (4 - 18); 
Sr. Citizens (55+) - $4.00; 
Children 3 & under are free

The museum will be closed on November 26, 2016; December 24, 2016; and December 31, 2016.

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.