Now that summer is here, families are planning their schedules and deciding what to do in between picnics, sleepovers, camp, and other fun outings. This season, add a visit to the only premier science center in the Pocono Mountains region, where people of all ages can discover nature and astronomy under one roof.
At the Schisler Museum of Wildlife and Natural History and the McMunn Planetarium at East Stroudsburg University (ESU), there are engaging collections, innovative programs, and excitement for the curious and adventurous. This is partly in thanks to ESU alums Art and Fannie Schisler, who decided to donate their big game trophies to the university so students could learn about the animals and the habitats they live in.
The museum was completed in 2014 and has been officially open to the public for three years. Curator Cathy Klingler says the facility is mostly staffed by university students and is an ideal “learning laboratory” for them. They lead the tours, work at the front desk, and run the films.
Wander through the museum and study the exhibits for an up-close understanding of many animals, including birds, fish, raptors, and other wildlife. Gaze in wonder and let your imagination soar inside the 30-foot planetarium dome.
The museum features more than 130 wildlife species from around the globe in world class habitat recreations. In addition, there is a display of insects, touchable items, and a tropical waters aquarium. The planetarium launches stargazers into the depths of space through a state-of-the-art digital projection system.
The SPITZ system is used for commercial films and custom star shows. The planetarium currently shows 11 films, with up to six different films shown each day.
As you walk down the hallway toward the museum, you’re immediately greeted by Oscar, the 1300-pound Alaskan grizzly bear. Once you enter the museum, impressive exhibits in different biomes are lined throughout the space. Full body dioramas include The Frozen North, The Verdant East, The Cold Forest, African Bush, and Canyon Country. The 350-gallon tropical waters aquarium showcases a variety of fish as well as sharks and blue lobsters.
According to Ms. Klingler, last year 9,000 visitors came to the museum and planetarium. With additional educational programs and events added each year, she expects continued interest and participation.
An upcoming event is Nature by Night—a flashlight tour held on the first Friday of the month from 6 to 8 p.m. Children ages four to 13 can wear their favorite pajamas and explore the world’s habitats in the dark, guided by the light from their flashlights. “We’ll talk about how animals use their five senses in the dark,” says Ms. Klingler. One adult per family is required to remain throughout the visit. The event includes the flashlight tour, a planetarium film, craft, and goody bag. Flashlights are provided, but people can bring their own or use a cellphone. The tour runs through the summer on June 7th, July 12th, and August 2nd. Visit the website or call for pricing.
An outing here this summer is also ideal on a rainy day, since it’s based indoors. Admission includes both the museum and planetarium, which are on the ground floor of the Warren E. ’55 and Sandra Hoeffner Science and Technology Center on Normal Street and Ransberry Avenue. The price is $10 for adults, $7 for children and seniors, and free for ESU students and museum members.
Summer hours are Wednesday-Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and closed Sunday-Tuesday. For more information on ongoing family programs and special events, call (570) 422-2705 or visit www.esu.edu/museum
Schisler Museum of Wildlife & Natural History
and McMunn Planetarium
Normal St. & Ransberry Ave, East Stroudsburg, PA
By: Allison Mowatt