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Devonian Devotion: The Orton Geological Museum at The Ohio State University

There are doormen, and there are bouncers acting as doormen. And then there's Jeff.


Jeff is the seven-foot-tall skeleton of Megaloynx Jeffersonii, a giant ground sloth that once roamed North American lands. Despite being believed to be a plant-eater in real life, Jeff's menacing pose will smack you to attention as you enter this somewhat hidden destination spot smack dab in the middle of The Ohio State University campus.
Unlike other recently touted refurbished OSU facilities such as the Billy Irelamd Cartoon Museum (see my post about the Cartoon Museum here) and the OSU Planetarium, the Orton Geological Museum remains firmly ensconced in the old-school. While funds for a bigger and better facility are being raised (admission is free, but a donation box can be found near the entrance,) these displays, despite showing some age, couple with the tiny dimensions (the room barely creaks out over 1,000 sq. feet, if that) to lend this place a certain charm and intimacy. 

Despite these tight quarters, the Museum squeezes a goodly amount of artifacts and information into their exhibits, and even sports a little gift shop with a selection of fossils, minerals and other items that will make the geology-loving person in your life happy.




Some of the exhibits found at the Geological Museum
The building where the museum is located itself also has a fascinating history. Established in 1893, Orton Hall is currently the second oldest building on the OSU Campus and home (naturally) to the School of Earth Sciences. A unique feature of this building,which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, include the Bell Tower (added in 1915): its 25,000 lbs of bells can be heard tolling across campus on a regular basis and gargoyle-like figures (in reality, restorations of fossil animals) that encircle the tower top. Another feature (there are several; their website lists them all) lies in the foyer just outside the museum entrance: along with some very stylish stained-glass and interior design work, numbered columns indicative of the Ohio-based sandstone of which they were constructed can be found.


The Orton Geological Museum is open to the public on weekdays from 9 AM - 5 PM; tours and visits on weekends and evenings are available through prior special arrangement.

Orton Geological Museum
Orton Hall
155 S. Oval Mall
The Ohio State University
Columbus, OH 43210
(614) 292-6896
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