The Skeletons Museum of Osteology is all treats, no tricks. An October visit to this unusual stop in OKC will surely put you in the Halloween spirit.
If you’re the type of person who finds typical museums a drag – “You call that art?!”… “Seen one dinosaur, you’ve seen them all.”… “How many signed guitars are in this place?” – you’re in for a Halloween treat.
While most science museums reserve a gallery for large skeletons like the ubiquitous dinosaur display, the Skeletons Museum of Osteology, a deceptively small museum in Oklahoma City, is all bones, all the time. Dubbed “America’s Only Skeleton Museum,” the entire facility is dedicated to displaying over 800 real animal skeletons – not fabrications.
The skeletons are authentic, complete, and arranged in positions that can only be described as artful. Curated for realism, the postures of some animals deliver a shiver while others elicit a laugh. The fine and plentiful bones of a rattlesnake in his trademark coil make you take an involuntary step back. The long arms of an ape easily reach the perch where a primate squats, his facial structure suggesting a playful grin. Salamanders crawl up a wall, their bodies forming an S, and featherless birds suspend in mid-air, their flight cut short.
The museum is easy to navigate – it is essentially one very large room, so no worries about missing anything. A typical visit lasts about 60-90 visits, depending on your level of interest – there’s much to read and learn as you stroll. Exhibits line the perimeter, with larger animals taking up the central space and allowing for 365-degree viewing. Each exhibit is clearly marked and engagingly informative. Marsupials, carnivores, flightless birds, and even native animals of Oklahoma are all here.
Kids will love the Explorer’s Corner where they can touch and manipulate real animal skulls. They’ll also appreciate the display dedicated to Homo Sapiens, where they’ll get the best lesson in anatomy they could ever imagine.
Depending on the time of your visit, you might want to register your kids for one of the rotating programs on the museum calendar. They are designed to grab ahold of their natural curiosity and teach them about various bone-related subjects. A forensic science option – Tooth & “Eye”dentification – is a good example of how this museum takes the macabre and turns it into a science lesson your kids won’t forget.
For adults, the museum hosts everything from yoga under a 40-foot humpback whale skeleton to a mystery night where participants solve real crime cases through bone-based exploration.
And if you want to attend a class that the whole family will appreciate, the Halloween Owl Pellet Dissection may be just what you’re looking for. Spoiler Alert: owls swallow their prey whole, bones intact, so you don’t know what you might discover.
This year, a Dungeons & Dragons event on October 30 leads up to the Halloween festivities on October 31, a dance party with a live DJ and plenty of treats.
For general admission to the museum, it’s always best to purchase tickets online to ensure availability, especially during October when skeletons are in their heyday. It will also save you a buck or two from the walk-in cost, a very reasonable $13 for adults and $11 for youth. But no matter what you do, don’t walk past the ticket booth in the atrium without looking to your right.
There, you’ll get one of the grossest sites of your visit, and one that makes for great videos and lots of “Eww, nasty!” comments from friends and family. A large display case houses a skull, and thousands of black beetles and bugs crawl through its eye sockets and nostrils, feeding off the decaying skeleton.
It sets the tone for this museum – what many would consider foul becomes can’t-look-away fascinating.