The Natural Philosopher and his Cabinet of Curiosities

The Natural Philosopher and his Cabinet of Curiosities
A living history presentation by Dean Howarth and Melinda McCalley
A family program suitable for all ages, best for ages 8-16.

Monday, August 8, 2016
Coulter Performance Plaza, 1 West
National Museum of American History
14th Street and Constitution Ave NW, Washington, DC

For access services, please contact us at or 202.633.2241, preferably two weeks prior to the program. To help us plan, please RSVP by clicking here

Modern museums had their beginnings in the 17th and 18th century with the advent of cabinets of curious and wondrous specimens collected by men and women who considered themselves naturalists. Exotic animals, plants, and oddities adorned exhibit halls that were meant to entertain and educate. The classification of species, as popularized by Carl Linnaeus and Joseph Banks, became a popular and profitable enterprise. The “seed trade” and naval explorations made the world a smaller place and natural philosophers sought to catalog and understand it.

Dean Howarth, in his role as the Natural Philosopher, incorporates a large collection of fossils, skeletons, and varied specimens of flora and fauna from the Americas and the farther reaches of the globe.  His collection, inspired by that of the 18th century museum of Charles W. Peale, even features the American Incognitum…the famed Mammoth which so fascinated Thomas Jefferson. Dean also appears with colleague and biologist, Melinda McCalley, who portrays the young Mary Anning, the United Kingdom’s’ first female paleontologist.  Their narratives include pre-evolutionary theory, exploration, and the commerce behind botany and biology.