Ice Age Glacial Exhibit

Useful Information

Location: The Museum of the Earth, Ithaca, New York
(42.4665, -76.5359)
Open: Memorial Day to Labor Day Sat-Mon 10-12, 13-17.
Local school breaks daily 10-12, 13-17.
Closed Thanksgiving, 24-DEC. 25-DEC, 01-JAN.
Fee: Adults USD 9, Children (4-17) USD 6, Children (0-3) free, Students USD 7, Seniors (65+) USD 7.
Classification: SubterraneaCave Replica
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Guided tours: self guided. Online audio tours for download on website.
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: yes
Address: Museum of the Earth, 1259 Trumansburg Rd, Ithaca, New York, 14850, Tel: +1-607-273-6623. E-mail:
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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1932 PRI founded by Cornell University geology professor Gilbert Dennison Harris.
1994 beginning of planning for museum.
2001 beginning of construction.
SEP-2003 museum opened to the public.


Ice Age Glacial Exhibit is a natural history exhibition about the last cold age and its effects on the landscape of New York. The centerpiece of the exhibition is a replica of a glacier cave with translucent blue walls that almost seem to glow from within. Just to say it once more: that's a glacier cave, a type of cave which forms naturally in glaciers. It is not an ice cave, which is a cave inside rock which contains ice.

The Museum of the Earth is a natural history museum, which is part of the Paleontological Research Institution (PRI) in Ithaca. The permanent exhibitions explain the natural history of earth, all 4.5 Billion years. The institute has a collection of more than seven million specimens, one of the largest in the United States. Obviously not all of them are on display.

The ice age exhibition has much to explain about the state of New York. During the last cold age the state was covered by a three kilometer thick glacier. The slow southward movement of this glacier scratched the underground, created huge scars which are today filled by the Finger Lakes. The melting water at its end created caves, valleys and alluvial fans.

The exhibition shows pictures and maps, but also a reconstructed Hyde Mastodon. Those animals roamed the tundra in the south of the retreating glaciers. It explains glaciers all over the world and their connection to the climate and the current global warming. But the most impressive exhibit is the glacier cave replica. The blue light and the ambient sounds of dripping water played throughout the tunnel make it quite realistic. Typical are the scallops at the ice walls, which are formed by the water flowing through the cave. Kids can crawl through small spaces and learn about the inside and outside of glaciers. Its even possible to touch glacial ice.