UW Geology Museum - Madison

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UW Geology Museum - Madison WI
UW Geology Museum - Madison WI
Hidden in the back corner of the UW Madison campus and within an imperious institutional building that appears to turn a cold shoulder to the street and human activity is one of Madison's better kept secrets - The University of Wisconsin Geology Museum.

It's a museum of natural history open to the public and curated with the public in mind. Here you can explore full dinasour skeletons, be dazzled by glittering gems and minerals, touch a meteorite, awe at intricate fossils, and marvel at one of the few martian rocks on display in the world. Any curious kid or adult will be delighted. Oh, and by-the-way, it's free.





UW Geology Museum - Madison WI
UW Geology Museum - Madison WI


The cold of winter has limited my hiking trips, and well, most of my other outdoor hobbies. I went in search of indoor activities that would get me out of the house that were in my hometown, and were free ... and I found more things to do than I could accomplish in one weekend.

One highlight was a trip to the Geology Museum. I've meant to drop in on this museum for more than a decade. But, it has always been pushed to the bottom of my to-do list. I assumed it would be a hallway in a classroom building that had some display cases stuffed with rocks. It turns out they do have display cases stuffed with rocks. But, this museum is much more than a hallway display case.

UW Geology Museum - Madison WI
UW Geology Museum - Madison WI
I'm not a rock guy, a fossil hunter, or a rock hound. I mean, when I was a kid I had a rock tumbler and I polished up some stones - but that was about the limit of my interest in Earth Science.

My niece and nephew, on the other hand, are hard core rock hounds. They have won so many fossil contests that it's just expected that the next stone they pick up off the ground will have some enormously rare remnant of a primordial period. The result of this for me is that I've been dragged to beaches in Maryland to hunt for fossilized sharks teeth and through natural history museums including most recently the Smithsonian. Seeing the Hope Diamond and an entire exhibit hall of meteorites must have had an affect on me. Or at least I'm starting to learn the difference between a gem and a mineral deposit.

I was pretty stunned by the collection on view at the UW Geology museum. It's not right to compare its collection to the Smithsonian Natural History Museum, but some parallels can be made. The gems, minerals, and fossils on display in Madison are first rate. And, it is a substantial collection.

A Piece of Mars - UW Geology Museum
A Piece of Mars - UW Geology Museum
The most interesting exhibit for me was a fragment of martian stone. This is an extremely rare thing to see. Humankind has sent rovers to Mars, but those robots don't make a return trip. So, to get a Martian rock, it needs to be blown off the planet by a volcano eruption, then it needs to fly through space, fall into Earth's orbit and survive the entry into Earth's atmosphere ... and then be found and identified by a human. I mean wow! What are the chances?

In the last year I have been to the Natural History Museum in New York and the Smithsonian in Washington D.C. But, it wasn't until I visited the UW Geology Museum in Madison that I had ever touched a meteorite or seen a piece of another planet. Since I'm a novelty hunter - that means I have to put the UW Geology Museum in my list of top museum experiences.


Directions, Map, and Information


HOURS: M-F 8:30AM-4:30PM; SAT: 9AM-1PM; SUN: CLOSED
ENTRANCE FEE: Free

PARKING: Park in the garage below Union South

TRANSIT:
Transit: The Route 80 Madison Metro Bus is a free campus bus. Just step on.
Campus Bus Routes
"The UW Campus Bus is free to all riders. Click on the route number below for schedules and maps. All campus routes are also on the official UW campus map. When riding the campus bus, be sure to remain behind the yellow standee line at the front of the bus for safety. Standing beyond this line obscures the driver's view and can lead to crashes.

Routes 80 and 84 provide daytime service. Service calendar for Routes 80 and 84.

Routes 80, 81, and 82 provide nighttime service. Service calendar for Routes 81 and 82."




Address for your GPS: 1215 West Dayton Street Madison, WI 53715
| coordinates: 43.070980, -89.405942 |

From Milwaukee1 Hour 40 Minutes
From Madisonn/a
From Green Bay2.5 Hours
From Wausau2.5 Hours
From Minneapolis4.5 Hours
From Chicago3 Hours



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UW Geology Museum - Madison WI
UW Geology Museum - Madison WI

UW Geology Museum - Madison WI

UW Geology Museum - Madison WI
UW Geology Museum - Madison WI

UW Geology Museum - Madison WI
UW Geology Museum - Madison WI


UW Geology Museum - Madison WI
UW Geology Museum - Madison WI



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