Conference Host

About our Host Institution

ASTC’s 2014 Annual Conference is hosted by the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, located in the heart of downtown Raleigh. In addition to being the largest institution of its kind in the Southeast, the Museum was recently awarded the 2014 National Medal for Museum and Library Service, the nation’s highest honor conferred on museums and libraries for service to the community. Within North Carolina, the Museum is annually the most visited museum and one of the top overall attractions, welcoming more than 1 million visitors for the second year in a row in 2013. 

The mission of the Museum is to enhance the public’s understanding and appreciation of the environment in ways that emphasize the natural diversity of North Carolina and the southeastern United States and relate the region to the world as a whole.  Throughout its 135-year history, the Museum has engaged generations of families with informal science education.  Using permanent and traveling exhibits, programs, special events and films, the Museum provides a better understanding of the science that affects the public’s lives as it encourages environmental stewardship. Its goals include inspiring youth to seek careers in science, motivating educators to be passionate about teaching science, and demystifying science and the process of research for the public.

Through it all, the Museum is guided by the principle of its founder, H.H. Brimley, who stated, “The building of a museum is a never-ending work. A finished museum is a dead museum, and such a one must deteriorate and begin to lose usefulness from the time its growth stops.” 

In 2000, the Museum opened its current, seven-story, 200,000 square-foot facility.  It features a 265-seat high-definition 3D theater, the most complete Acrocanthosaurus skeleton on display in the world, a distance learning theater that facilitates statewide outreach, and is home to enough live animals (used in programming and incorporated into permanent exhibits) to qualify it as a small-sized zoo. 

In 2005, the Museum expanded to include Prairie Ridge Ecostation, a 46-acre field station located a short drive from the Museum and used as an outdoor classroom to reconnect the public with nature.  Comprised of restored prairies, ponds, other habitats and walking trails, Prairie Ridge is an environmental oasis nestled in northwest Raleigh. 

In April 2012, the Museum expanded again by opening a new wing, the Nature Research Center (NRC).  The NRC is an 80,000 square-foot “public laboratory” where visitors can experience science in action by visiting state-of-the-art labs and participating in real scientific research (such as sequencing DNA), observing veterinary staff perform medical procedures on Museum animals and listening to presentations by scientists on their ongoing research. 

The Museum is also the only science museum in the state with a full-time research staff. Museum scientists in eight disciplines constantly build and enhance the Museum’s zoological collections, which were begun in 1879 and have now reached more than 3 million specimens.

We invite you to visit the Museum and talk with a scientist, work alongside researchers in a state-of-the-art lab, experience an interactive program, watch live veterinary procedures and find out why the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) is recognizing the Museum as one of the nation’s top museums in 2014!

For more information about the Museum, visit