Natural History Museum

PLEASE NOTE: Facilities at the nature center will be open through the winter, Monday through Saturday from 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM. The only building that will remain closed is the new museum due to its current renovations.

The Calkins Nature Center is home to a nearly 2,000 square foot Native American and Natural History Museum that explores the story of Hardin County's ecological and cultural past. A question that one may ask is “Why would a nature center have exhibits about human history?” It is because human are, and have always been a part of nature. Human activities over the past 13,000 years have had a tremendous impact on the processes that shape our natural environments.
Archaeology displays as the museum.Archaeology displays in the museum show some of the tools and clothing used by Native Americans over the past few hundred years.

Our museum space was expanded in 2015 and is currently in the process of having new displays designed and built. We expect the project to be completed in the spring of 2017. Once completed, the museum will have one room primarily dedicated to displaying Native American artifacts ranging from stone tools of the Clovis people (the first inhabitants of North America which are approximately 13,000 years old) all the way up to bone, leather and beaded artifacts from the era of written history which started at the time of European settlement.

Native American Artifacts Native American Artifacts
Native American Artifacts Native American Artifacts


Just a sampling of the museum's new collection, including a variety of arrowheads, spear points, stone axes, and pottery. These artifacts tell the story of the human inhabitants of the region going back as far as 13,000 years ago.

The second room in the museum will be dedicated to telling the story of Iowa’s ecological past primarily focusing on the period of time starting with end of the last ice age and ending with modern conservation and ecology. It will focus on prairie, forest, and wetland ecosystems, native wildlife, fire ecology, and the Iowa River ecosystem.

Kids watching a program about Native Americans.
A group of kids learn about how Native American children would have lived on the plains.