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Big Bone Lick: Birthplace of American Paleontology

Presented by Cincinnati Museum Center at Cincinnati Museum Center, OH

Big Bone Lick: Birthplace of American Paleontology

Big Bone Lick State Historic Site, located in Northern Kentucky, has figured prominently in the history of science and in the early cultural development of the United States. The area’s salt licks attracted many large, now extinct, animals during the Ice Age. Discoveries of their “big bones” led to the first organized vertebrate paleontological excavation in the Western Hemisphere in 1807, conducted by William Clark at the request of Thomas Jefferson. Several extinct Ice Age animals were discovered here for the first time and fossils from the site can be found worldwide.

Big Bone Lick State Historic Site’s rich history includes such important figures as Lewis and Clark, Benjamin Franklin, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. More recently, the area was home to a number of health spas as people flocked to the site to take advantage of the “healing properties” of its mineral springs.

Through objects and photographs, this exhibit will highlight Big Bone Lick’s unique place in paleontological and archaeological history and the advancement of science in the 18th and 19th centuries – including the first glimpses into the concepts of evolution and climate change that are still important today.


Free and open to the public

    Official Website


Additional time info:

Located in the Ruthven Gallery on the lower level across from the Duke Energy Children's Museum

Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Sunday, 11 a.m.-6 p.m.

* Event durations (if noted) are approximate. Please check with the presenting organization or venue to confirm start times and duration.


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Cincinnati Museum Center parking is $6 per vehicle (cash or credit) , $4 after 4:30 p.m. and free for Members. The parking lot is located in front of Union Terminal and accessed from our main drive off Western Ave.

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