Skeletons: Museum of Osteology

Imagine tens of thousands of bones, all bright white and nearly gleaming in the light. Scary? Maybe in other places… but Skeletons: Museum of Osteology wasn’t scary at all.

Owned by the company Skulls Unlimited International, the attraction was the sister to the original Museum of Osteology in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Skeletons opened on Orlando’s International Drive in 2015 in the same complex as the Wheel at ICON Park (commonly known as the Orlando Eye).

When first opened, the museum contained the skeletons of 400 animals but over a few years they expanded to over 500. The skeletons were largely grouped based on species relations – mammalian carnivores together for instance – but also by habitat relationships. Therefore Florida natives were grouped together as are animals from the great African plains.

Other displays showed various human skulls (the only reproductions in the museum) over the past few million years as well as how skeletons provide a great deal of animal adaptations such as speed and strength.

The museum also detailed how they got the skeletons and cleaned them for presentation. Ironically, the use of dermestid insects to do much of the intricate “meat” removal was possibly the only semi-queasy display!

This was one of my favorite “small” museums in the state. The presentation of the skeletons was high-quality, the staff was knowledgeable and it was stunning to see hundreds of skeletons, all arranged in believable poses. I’ve been there multiple times and was lucky to have a guided tour at one point.

Everything was brightly lit and there were plenty of signs to explain everything in basic terms. It’s so rare to have a museum with such a narrow focus, but it was great to easily see all the similarities and differences between skeletons.

It was such a shame when the museum announced its closing at the beginning of 2020. Open less than 5 years, it’s clear that the attendance never reached the numbers needed to make Skeletons a financial success. What a lost to Orlando and to Florida.