Orton Geological Museum

Located in iconic Orton Hall, one of the two oldest remaining original campus buildings, also home of Orton Hall chimes. Opened, 1893. Named for Ohio State’s first president and geologist, Edward Orton Sr. First floor exhibit hall + gift shop. Free/open to public, 8 a.m.–5 p.m., M–F. Tours by appointment.

Founded in 1893 by Edward Orton, Sr., the museum’s first 10,000 specimens came from Orton’s own teaching collection.

Orton Geological Museum has played a vital role in Ohio State’s teaching, outreach and research for more than 120 years, hosting 13,000 + visitors annually, from near and far. Some are faculty or student researchers interested in very specific areas. Others are Ohio State students from diverse disciplines, including English majors, who have been known to come, soak up the atmosphere and write poems. Many are members of various clubs or the general public from all across Ohio. All have the opportunity to view the extraordinary geological history displayed in carefully arranged exhibits selected from a treasure-trove of 500,000 + rocks, minerals, fossils—from Ohio and around the world— Antarctica to Siberia.

Most of the carefully curated collection, which continues to grow thanks to the efforts of faculty, staff, students and generous donors, is kept in cabinets and drawers in Orton’s basement.

One of Orton’s most celebrated denizens is always on display. “Jeff,” the 7-foot fossil skeleton of the giant ground sloth, Megalonyx jeffersoni — excavated on an Ohio farm — has been greeting visitors one and all since his installation on Thomas Jefferson’s birthday, April, 13, 1896.

A 24-foot dinosaur skeleton, molded from a fossil discovered by Ohio State professor David Elliot, now stands guard in Orton Hall's lobby. The Cryolophosaurus provides valuable evolutionary insight to scientists and will increase enthusiasm and support for the museum exponentially, according to curators. To bring Cryolophosaurus to campus, the team at Orton raised the necessary funds through a crowdfunding campaign that drew donors from all over the world. The installation will be part of a larger renovation that plans to incorporate technology into the museum’s other exciting exhibits.


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