Museum & Science Center > Exhibits

Expedition Earth

Meet ice-age giants, enter a twisting tunnel through an icy glacier, and journey through an amazing landscape upstate New York hasn’t seen in thousands, or even millions, of years.

  • Museum & Science Center

Expedition Earth is inspiring, educational and fabulous fun for families, individuals of all ages and school groups. Teachers will find great connections to earth science, life science and local history. Check out all three parts of the exhibit: Glaciers & Giants, You & Your Earth and An Ever-Changing Planet.


Meet Ice-Age giants, enter a twisting tunnel through an icy glacier and journey through an amazing landscape that upstate New York hasn’t seen in thousands (or even millions) of years. Your expedition through Glaciers & Giants will be an astounding journey through time and the awesome events that have shaped our region’s natural environment. Engaging, hands-on exhibits help you piece together this incredible story:

Get in touch with the distant past as you gaze at a full-scale Albertosaurus skeleton in a setting that evokes the environment this fierce predator inhabited 65 to 200 million years ago. Touch real dinosaur bones, fossil dinosaur tracks and discover what they can tell you about the animals that made them.

Enter a glacial ice cave, shimmering with bright, translucent reflections. Feel the temperature drop and hear the ice crack. Young children will enjoy exploring their own, smaller-scale version of the cave. Take a virtual hike to Mendon Ponds Park to see local evidence of glacial features. Press a button and watch the Rochester skyline fade beneath the vast glacier that once covered our city’s location.

Uncover replica bones at a mastodon dig site and identify them by comparison with the nearby, full-size mounted mastodon skeleton. A vertical wall dig site makes this activity wheelchair-accessible. Compare and contrast bones from two mastodons excavated in our area. Using a computer screen, you can take images of scattered mastodon bones and reconstruct a complete skeleton. Then, stand in awe at the feet of a full-size replica mastodon in a diorama evoking its natural habitat.

Leave the glaciers behind as the saga of humans in our region begins. You’ll hear perspectives on nature from an early hunter arriving soon after the glacier left this area, a Seneca woman, a resident of Rochesterville during the early years of the Erie Canal and a contemporary Rochesterian. Learn about the succession of animals and plants that inhabited our region in the wake of the retreating glacier.



Did you know that the place we call Rochester once sat at the bottom of a tropical sea south of the equator? Examine the evidence and find out how scientists know this to be true. With interactive experiences, hands-on specimens and sensational visual environments, An Ever-Changing Planet turns back the clock to explore the ways that the Earth and the life that it supports have changed over the last 500 million years in our region.

Begin your adventure with a look at volcanoes, earthquakes and the continual shifting and sliding of the Earth’s surface. Step onto a vibe plate to get a hint of a real earthquake experience. Explore fossils and a variety of hand-on exhibits that reveal the ever-changing nature of life in our region.

Discover how life was changing at a time long before the dinosaurs, when millions of now-extinct living things covered the planet’s surface. Marvel at the beautifully restored and enhanced Undersea Diorama depicting the teeming underwater environments and tropical seas that covered the land more than 350 million years ago.


Explore the environment we live in today, investigate the vast array of living things that populate our region and discover the connections that we humans have to all of the life forms around us.

Examine hundreds of objects from our natural science collections. Take a visual tour of our region’s landscape, surveying changes that have taken place since humans began arriving in large numbers a few hundred years ago.

Rediscover spectacular dioramas of our local environment featuring black bears, beavers and the Bergen Bog. These re-created scenes are enhanced with interactive audio and visual elements. Young visitors will particularly enjoy the Willow Theater, complete with puppets and costumes, located in the child-size Beaver Lodge.

Continue your journey as you discover how scientists collect and analyze information about the environment and how science can help us make everyday decisions that have important effects on environmental quality.

Complete your expedition with a visit to the Bio-Bulletins Theater for updates from the American Museum of Natural History about current issues in biological science and the global environment.

In Expedition Earth, you will also find:


Presented by American Rock Salt Company, LLC

Experience the story of our region’s abundant natural resources — water, wind, rocks and minerals — in a new, state-of-the-art, multi-media Object Theater located within Expedition Earth.

“Natural Treasures,” our first production, is a 17-minute, fully automated show that choreographs high-definition video, sound and lighting effects with authentic objects from the RMSC’s collections. These objects “magically” appear, weaving an entertaining narrative of the natural processes and human ingenuity that have combined to shape our region’s history and prosperity.

Survey Greater Rochester’s wealth of freshwater resources, created by mile-high glaciers more than 10,000 years ago. Find out why it’s so windy here and travel to a local wind farm to explore the potential of wind power. Where do waterwheels, millstones, windmills and other human innovations fit into the story? Discover Livingston County’s American Rock Salt Mine, the largest operating salt mine in the United States. Where did this huge salt deposit come from — and how do we know?

Admission to the American Rock Salt Company Object Theater is free with Museum admission.


The RMSC is grateful to our principal underwriters:

  • Mrs. William H. Morris
  • The Gleason Foundation

And generous funders:

  • U.S. Congressman Thomas M. Reynolds
  • The Charles Fund, Inc.
  • Edward Charles Eisenhart Trust
  • Halcyon Hill Foundation
  • NY State Senator James S. Alesi
  • NY State Assemblyman Joseph D. Morelle
  • NY State Senator Joseph E. Robach
  • National Endowment for the Humanities
  • Presenting sponsor ESL

Their vision and steadfast support inspired and enabled us to present this spectacular natural science exhibition: Expedition Earth.

About The Exhibit

  • Museum & Science Center