Scroll to continue

April 2, 2023-August 6, 2023

Penguins! Past and Present

April 2, 2023-August 6, 2023

The journey starts over 60 million years ago, with fossils of the ancient ancestors of today’s penguins.

Penguins! Past and Present will showcase the story of the most remarkable birds on Earth. Immersive dioramas, breathtaking videos, and interactive displays will entertain guests and reveal how penguins evolved, how they adapted to some of the most extreme environments in the world, and how they continue to survive in the face of ongoing threats, natural and man-made. This exhibition was chosen as the opening science show for the New Bruce and is curated by Dr. Daniel Ksepka, an internationally recognized expert in penguin evolution who has published groundbreaking research on penguin fossils, feathers, and genomes.

The journey starts over 60 million years ago, with fossils of the ancient ancestors of today’s penguins. Visitors will marvel over a life reconstruction of the giant extinct penguin Kairuku, which weighed over 160lbs, compare the bones of flying seabirds and diving penguins, and examine fossils of species that plied the oceans long before humans appeared.

Moving to the present day, guests will encounter a series of innovative dioramas that illuminate the amazing lives of penguins. Ten different species, ranging from the pint-sized Little Blue Penguin to the towering King Penguin will be featured in scenes depicting penguins diving to pursue their prey, building nests out of stones, and raising their chicks in frozen Antarctica.

Penguins! Past and Present will explore “the inside story”, including an interactive 3D life-size model of a penguin visitors can take apart and put back together. Real taxidermy specimens, feathers, and eggs will be used to highlight the ways penguins use bright colors, insulation, and clever behaviors to thrive from the deserts of the Galapagos Islands to the ice sheets of Antarctica.

Finally, the exhibition will delve into the many positive and negative ways that penguins and humans interact. Visitors will encounter artifacts from wars fought over penguin guano, learn the sad tale of Warham’s Crested Penguin being hunted to extinction 700 years ago, and test their luck on a “Wheel of Survival” illustrating the stark odds a newly hatched penguin faces of not making it through its first year. They will also learn how penguins are being used as models for autonomous submarines and airships, how scientists are using new technologies to count penguins from space, and how “critter cam” cameras spy on penguins underwater. At the end of the exhibition guests can stop at “Emperor Theater” to enjoy breathtaking footage of Emperor Penguins in Antarctica.

All text for this exhibition will be available in both English and Spanish. (Todo los textos de esta exposición estaran disponibles en Inglés y en Español).

Penguins! Past and Present is generously underwritten by

JPMorgan Chase staccked logo JPG


The Charles M. and Deborah G. Royce Exhibition Fund

Edward John Noble Foundation, Inc.

S & L Marx Foundation

CT Economic - 2


Penguin logo-small

Committee of Honor and Co-Chaired by: Ellen Flanagan, Rebecca A. Gillan, Erin and Taylor Glasebrook, Lisette Henrey, Jan Rogers Kniffen and Kathleen Metinko, Gale and Bob Lawrence, Caity and Matt Lischick, Cricket and Jim Lockhart, Virginia and JB Lockhart, Betsey Ruprecht, Suzanne Storr

Leader: Vicki and Bill Fitzgerald, Ellen Flanagan and Joanne Flanagan, Pamela J. Hoiles, Michelle and Mark Horgan, Jan Rogers Kniffen and Kathleen Metinko, Gale and Bob Lawrence, Cricket and Jim Lockhart, Virginia and J.B. Lockhart, Nancy and Bob Selander, Suzanne Storr, Angela and Ratmir Timashev, and Marei von Saher

Master: Rebecca A. Gillan, Erin and Taylor Glasebrook, Le Penguin, Lisette and Robert Henrey, Susan E. Lynch, Stephen and Naomi Schiff Myers, Betsey Ruprecht, Larry and Anna Simon

Champion: Mitzi and Bernard Armstrong, Sue H. Baker, Owen and Katie Biglin, Dr. and Mrs. M. Donald Blaufox, Dorothy M. Cholnoky, Carolyn and Maurice Cunniffe, Alexandra and Adam Friedman, Tracy and Mark Holton, Michelle and Mark Horgan, Karen and Dennis Keegan, Nisha Kumar and Michael Behringer, Catherine Ladnier and J.M. Robinson, Caity and Matt Lischick, Anshu Vidyarthi and Antoine Blech, Le Penguin, Deborah Simon, Judy and Steven Stein, Clare Stone, Peter and Bug Sutton, Martha and Charles Zoubek

King Tut

King Penguin (Bruce Museum Collection)

Emperor Penguin Egg

Emperor Penguin Egg (Bruce Museum Collection)

Adelie Penguin

Adélie Penguin buildng pebble nest (Bruce Museum Collection)

Little Blue Penguin (Otago Museum)

Little Blue Penguin (Otago Museum)

Share with a friend