What Is the Rochester Museum and Science Center?

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  • Written By: Britt Archer
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 14 September 2019
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The Rochester Museum and Science Center combines a museum with a science learning center in Rochester, New York. The center’s interactive exhibits focus on the world of natural science plus science and technology and regional heritage. The three-floor museum is housed on 13 acres (0.05 square kilometers) and contains more than a million items. The Rochester Museum and Science Center contains the Strasenburgh Planetarium, and it also oversees a nature preserve of 900 acres (3.64 square kilometers), the Cumming Nature Center, in Naples, NY.

School-age children and their families will find plenty to do at the Rochester Museum and Science Center with hands-on activities that ask visitors to focus on explorations that encourage the use of all their senses. The interactive exhibits include a dinosaur bone pit where children can dig for discoveries. Other interactive exhibits include one that explains what energy is, sources of energy and how people use it, as well as one that helps children learn about the earth and the forces that shaped it, such as earthquakes and volcanoes.


Older children can learn about four centuries of Iroquois and Seneca history as it pertains to the European settlement of New York, and the history of the Underground Railroad in the region. Children can see the re-created settings where escaped slaves hid on their journey north. Another hands-on installation teaches visitors how machines work and includes information about magnetism, electricity and sound. An exhibit called Adventure Zone gives visitors a chance to learn how a canal lock works, plus it provides a simulated trip down Lake Ontario. Visitors can also learn about the weather.

The Cumming Nature Center offers seasonal activities, six miles (9.65 km) of hiking trails and 15 miles (24.14 km) of trails for cross-country skiers. The center is a site of natural beauty with forests, wetlands and ponds. Visitors can view a sugar house, a log cabin and learn more about the area at the interpretive center.

The Rochester Museum and Science Center was founded in 1912, when it was the city’s municipal museum. The planetarium opened in 1968. Today the museum holds 40,000 items in photographs and related material, plus thousands of documents that pertain to history and local industry, including documents about the Civil War, Frederick Douglass and Susan B. Anthony. The Rochester Museum and Science Center supports a library of more than 20,000 books, with special emphasis on volumes that pertain to the museum’s holdings, early technology, African-American heritage, the Iroquois and local history. More than 1,400 publications concern anthropology, archaeology, history and geology, including a number of historic publications.


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