The Wagner Free Institute of Science  
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Lecture Hall
Lecture Hall circa 1900

The Institute began in 1855 as one of the earliest free adult science education programs in the United States. From the beginning it has combined public access to natural history and science materials with lively educational programs taught by acknowledged scholars. That agenda has altered little over time except to incorporate new fields of science and new theories of older disciplines. Today, the Institute offers a wide range of educational opportunities for people of all ages.

Adults may select from a broad range of college-level courses in the natural sciences taught by faculty from Philadelphia’s outstanding colleges, universities, and research institutions. Special lecture series and symposia, including the Weeknights at the Wagner evening lecture series and the Westbrook Free Lectureship, regularly bring nationally-known scientists to the Institute for academic programs which are open to the public.

In addition, the Institute serves more than 10,000 children each year.

Groups of students from colleges and universities also make use of opportunities afforded by the Institute's diverse collection of natural history specimens.