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History of Asheville Museum of Science

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The doors to the Asheville Museum of Science (AMOS) opened on November 11th, 2016, but the story of AMOS begins with one man’s extensive mineral collection. From personal mineral collection to full scale science museum, the journey began almost a century ago.

Burnham Colburn Quote

AMOS is the legacy of engineer and bank president Burnham Standish Colburn, who retired in the 1920s to Biltmore Forest near Asheville. Colburn moved to the area to be close to Western North Carolina’s rich mineral fields and the diverse specimens they held. In 1931, Burnham S. Colburn and his brother, William B. Colburn, helped found the Southern Appalachian Mineral Society (aka S.A.M.S.). After Burnham S. Colburn died in 1959, the Colburn family shared many of Colburn’s specimens with S.A.M.S. so they could be displayed to the public. S.A.M.S. members added items from their own collections and, in July 1960, they opened the Burnham S. Colburn Memorial Museum on Coxe Avenue in Asheville.

In 1972, the museum relocated to the lower level of the Asheville Civic Center. The museum’s collections continued to grow, and in 1982, the museum became an independent nonprofit and changed its name to the Colburn Gem and Mineral Museum. In July 1992, the museum moved to the Pack Place Education, Arts and Science Center in downtown Asheville. The museum changed its name for a third time to the Colburn Earth Science Museum in 2002, and in late 2016, after another move, it opened its doors as the Asheville Museum of Science to reflect its broadening mission. The exhibits in AMOS explore the connections between astronomy, geology, weather, climate, ecology, and paleontology to form the beautiful landscape we call home.

In our new space, we host special events and educational programs in addition to our permanent and traveling exhibits and displays. Discover geology in the Colburn Hall of Minerals, where the Burnham S. Colburn’s Collection lives on. Manipulate topography in real time with our Terra Box exhibit; dig for fossils and say hello to our Teratophoneus curriei dinosaur skeleton. Watch the waters of our French Broad River table change paths as you uncover the methods of ecology within you. Explore new hands-on activities and demonstrations done daily in our STEM Lab! Wonder and explore, find your STEM passion at AMOS!