What We are Today

What is the Paleontological Research Institution?

The Paleontological Research Institution, or "PRI," is a natural history museum with a mission incluing both research and education.

In research, PRI's claim-to-fame is one of the largest research collections of fossils in North America, publication of one of the longest running technical journals in paleontology in the Western Hemisphere, and a large interdisciplinary library.

In education, PRI provides outreach to age groups from preschoolers to seniors, both locally and nationally, using a wide variety of media such as exhibits, presentations, books, video, and what you see here on the internet. Our newest and most exciting excursion in education is the new Museum of the Earth.


PRI is a member society of the American Geological Institute and an afiliate society of the Geological Society of America.

How is it that an institution of paleontological research provides educational outreach in Earth science and natural history?

While paleontology may seem at first glance a narrow subfield of geology, it is in fact an interdisciplinary field at the interface of the Earth and life sciences. PRI does often use fossils, which are of great intrinsic interest to children and adults alike, as a point of departure for discussing a wide spectrum of concepts in natural history. PRI aims more generally, however, ot provide quality educational programming in Earth science.

What's special about PRI educational programming?

PRI educational outreach is based on the philosophy that concepts are more important than "facts", that hands-on, inquiry-based teaching is more effective than traditional lecturing, and that application to local rocks and issues is more influential than idealized textbook descriptions. This approach ot education is consistent with new national and state science education standards.

What about those of us who don't live in Central New York?

PRI offers teacher training for teachers at regional and national meetings and by arrangement, and sets up workshops and fieldtrips for teachers visiting Central New York from elsewhere. PRI is a regional training center for the new AGI high school Earth Science curriculum EarthComm. Look for Teacher Friendly Guides to Geology for other regions of the nation in the future.

Funding for PRI

PRI is a private non-profit 501(c)3 organization. PRI gratefully acknowledges funding from the following sources over the past three years that have enabled PRI to offer programming:

  • American Association of Petroleum Geologists Foundation
  • Arthur Vining Davis Foundations
  • Chevron Corporation
  • Exxon (ExxonMobil) Foundation
  • GE Fund
  • National Science Foundation
  • New York State Council for the Arts
  • Shell Oil Company Foundation
The Paleontological Research Institution
1259 Trumansburg Road
Ithaca, NY 14850 phone: 607-273-6623 fax: 607-273-6620
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