Thursday, November 2, 2017

Evening with an Expert

How Modern Research Illuminates Our Fossil Collection

with Dr. Jason Downs

Tour starts promptly at 6:00

Doors open at 5:30 for a wine and cheese reception

Wagner Museum Case 60B; photo by John Woodin.

See the Wagner’s collections as you’ve never seen them before in our Evening with an Expert tour series, featuring intimate, scholar-led tours that highlight specific areas of our collection.

The Wagner’s fossil collection is vast and diverse—it started with William Wagner’s extensive European trading in the mid-19th century and grew with the Institute’s later expeditions in the Southeastern U.S.

Experience it firsthand during our November 2nd Evening with an Expert gallery tour led by Dr. Jason Downs, a paleontologist and popular Wagner faculty member. He will guide a small group of participants through our fossil collection, pointing out important specimens and offering context beyond our hand-written Victorian labels. Dr. Downs' tour will share historic and contemporary information about specific fossils, including our ichthyosaurs and dinosaurs, to reveal how our understanding of the prehistoric life has changed from the 19th century to now. There will be plenty of opportunities to ask questions and engage with Dr. Downs throughout the tour.

The tour begins at 6 pm on November 2nd, but please join us at 5:30 pm for a wine and cheese reception and opportunity to mingle with fellow participants and Dr. Downs.

Tour is limited to 20 participants.

Cost: $30; $20 for members*

Purchase tickets online here:

You do not need a PayPal account to purchase tickets online.

General $30


Members $20

Or call Cara Scharf at 215-763-6529 x24 to purchase tickets over the phone.

About Evening with an Expert: Our Evening with an Expert series brings in local scholars to guide small groups of people through specific areas of our collection, reviving our museum’s original purpose as a teaching collection. In our impressive array of minerals, fossils, corals, and taxidermy, there is not much in the way of interpretation. This is because the Wagner was primarily an educational institution, not a museum like the museums you might visit today. Historically, professors gave talks in the auditorium and used the specimens in our collection to illuminate what they were teaching. Our museum was designed to be experienced with a guide, a specialist who could stand beside the specimens with you and explain how they all fit together. Now, just as in the 1890s, Evening with an Expert allows you to explore the collections with a specialist (and you can enjoy wine, cheese, and good company while you do it).

About the Expert: Dr. Jason Downs is Assistant Professor of Biology at Delaware Valley University and a Research Associate at the Academy of Natural Sciences in the Vertebrate Paleontology Group. With the Academy, Downs has been an active researcher and done extensive fieldwork, including being part of the team who discovered Tiktaalik roseae, a specimen that shed new light on the vertebrate transition to land. He has a PhD from Yale University in Geology and Geophysics and BAs in Biology and Geology from Penn. Jason grew up in Philadelphia and came to the Wagner as a child, an experience that he says led to his becoming a paleontologist. He is an extremely popular member of the Wagner’s faculty, teaching courses about paleontology, evolution, and more!


*Refund policy: If you cancel up until a week before the event, you will be refunded tour price minus a $5.00 processing fee. The week before the event, no refunds will be issued for cancellations.








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