North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences: Celebrating Nature, Advancing Science

Mission: To illuminate the natural world and inspire its conservation

Vision: A knowledgeable and empowered society, making decisions informed by science

The state’s museum devoted to science and nature, the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences in central Raleigh is the largest institution of its kind in the Southeastern United States and, with over a million visitors a year, the state’s most visited museum. Its 300,000 square-foot downtown campus is augmented by Prairie Ridge Ecostation and satellite facilities in Whiteville, Greenville and Contentnea Creek. Together, they provide a variety of curriculum-focused classes onsite, offsite, outdoors and online for pre-kindergarten through graduate students across the state.

As a museum of nature, we integrate the dual concepts of illumination and inspiration with the work we do and the many stories we tell. In a time of unprecedented environmental challenges, nothing could be more critical. This nexus of ideas makes us unique. Across three vibrant floors of laboratories and exhibitions, our Nature Research Center provides an unparalleled opportunity to see science in action by watching Museum researchers studying the natural world in real time. In the Nature Exploration Center, exhibits and live animal displays reveal North Carolina’s rich natural habitats, wildlife and geology from the Appalachian Mountains to the Atlantic Ocean.

Our programs and activities impact people in all of the state’s 100 counties. We develop a variety of exhibits to share with institutions across North Carolina and support other museums by administering the North Carolina Science Museums Grant Program. We also engage the state’s students indirectly by providing professional development training for teachers, research opportunities for classrooms, and outdoor learning environments on school campuses.

In 2023, we will open “Dueling Dinosaurs,” a major permanent exhibition and laboratory devoted to a truly important paleontological discovery: the most complete fossils of a T. rex and Triceratops ever found, locked together at the time of death. This unique find will advance our understanding of these species and their behavior in ways we now can only begin to guess at. When open, Dueling Dinosaurs will allow the public to unravel the mystery behind their deaths in a state-of-the art interactive exhibit, while witnessing these remarkable fossils up close as they are studied by researchers in a scientific setting.


Strategic Outlooks

2021–2023 Strategic Plan

2022–2023 Annual Plan


Annual Reports

2020–2021 Annual Report


Best Practices

Environmental Sustainability Guidelines


Past Documents

2021–2022 Annual Plan