Video: Inside the museums of Harvard University

The most students per square kilometre in all of the USA are in Boston.  It’s big business in the city – students contribute an estimated $4.8 billion a year to the city’s economy.

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One of the many beautiful buildings of Harvard University

And the most prestigious schools of them all is Harvard University. If you say you’re a student from Harvard, everyone will know where you mean.

The grounds of Harvard University

Harvard University is open to the public and if you don’t have time for a guided tour (we didn’t) it’s worth just strolling around the grounds to take in the atmosphere.

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When we were there, it was summer vacation, so not much was going on. Although we still managed to get a sense of student life when Dave was interviewed for a summer programme show!

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The buildings aren’t as old as other universities like Oxford and Cambridge, and therefore to me they’re not as beautiful. But they are still nice to look at, even if the architecture is more modern than the Harry Potter-esque style you see in England.

 The museums of Harvard University

Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnography

Just like at Cambridge and Oxford, there are a number of museums of Harvard University.

We began our tour at the Peabody Museum, which houses artefacts from native people, mostly from the Americas. My favourite exhibit was of an Australian photographer’s work which showed the native Paupa New Guinean people.

Stephen Dupont spent years living amongst the natives and captured everything from portraits of gangsters to the lawlessness in Port Moresby.

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One of the beautiful Myan murals at the Peabody Museum at Harvard University

Harvard Museum of Natural History

My favourite of all the museums of Harvard University was the Harvard Museum of Natural History. Although not as extensive as London’s Natural History Museum, it housed a large number of stuffed animals, fossils and dinosaurs.

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An ancient aardvark ancestor at the Harvard Museum of Natural History

The creepiest thing I saw was a skeleton of the giant sloths that used to roam the earth back in the day. The giant whale-like dinosaur skeleton was impressive too!

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Triceratops skeleton at the Harvard Museum of Natural History

What you need to know:

Cost – Adult tickets cost $12 for each museum and with your ticket you can access the adjacent museums.

When to go – The museums are open everyday from 9am until 5pm.

How to get there – There are a number of parking garages in and around Harvard University, but we found it easy to take the ‘T’ – Boston’s underground rail system.

We were provided with two complimentary passes to the museums, but as always our views are our own.

Please note: Since posting this article, Harvard have contacted us to say that “Virtually every student here is subsidized by the University, as the costs per student  far exceed what even the richest student pays.”

And: “This University is one of the very few which can afford to give a free education, room and board and flights home and all expenses to even kids who’ve grown up homeless.  Thus the diversity of students here far exceeds what most every other college can provide.”

The university weren’t happy with us that we quoted how much a student needs to pay without financial aid, and asked us to check our facts.

I have since re-checked my facts and have taken this quote from the Harvard website where I got my facts from: “The total 2011-2012 cost of attending Harvard College without financial aid is $36,305 for tuition and $52,652 for tuition, room, board and fees combined.”

I therefore stand by the accuracy of what is in our video, but realise that many of their students do receive financial aid that reduces the cost of attending. However, not all students do receive this aid.

Transcript of video – museums at Harvard University

Carmen VO: On a recent trip to Harvard I found myself wondering what it must be like to attend such a prestigious university. There’s perhaps a certain pride in saying you go to Harvard because it’s almost like stating you’re intelligent. Or rich. Without financial aid, you can expect to pay between $36 and $53 grand a year for tuition, room, board and fees.

Dave PTC: Well here we are at Harvard University – one of America’s, if not the world’s, most exclusive, prestigious and expensive universities.

Carmen PTC: And we have come here to learn today but we won’t be paying the extortionate fees – we’re going to go check out the natural history museum. Come on, let’s go!

Dave VO: The Natural History building is also home to the Peabody Museum, and we stopped off there first to take a look at archeological wonders.

There was a large section on native American Indians as well as ancient tribes from South America.

There was tribal jewellery, masks and fascinating Myan artwork. With over 1.2 million artefacts housed in the museum, there’s a lot to look at.

One of our favourite sections was the exhibition of Stephen Dupont, an Australian photographer.

Carmen VO: Next we moved on to the mineral and meteorite collection in the museum. I’m a little obsessed with all things sparkly, so I enjoyed looking at the gems.

Dave VO: Another interesting exhibit is a room full of 3,000 glass flower models that honestly look very real.

Carmen VO: Finally, a natural history museum wouldn’t be complete without stuffed animals, skulls and a number of fossils – all of which the Harvard Natural History Museum has in vast supply. And of course, who could forget the dinosaurs!

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About the author

Carmen has been nomadic since May 2013 and the co-founder of Double-Barrelled Travel. She loves experiencing new cultures and learning new languages. She is having the most fun when skiing down a mountain, scuba diving in the Caribbean or curled up with a good book.

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