A look at... UMU's Fossil Hunt

Utrecht University Museum is currently being renovated and innovated. In the meantime, it is organising a variety of (online) activities, including for residents of the city of Utrecht. Working with Prof. Jelle Reumer, Lore Smit and her colleagues devised a family-oriented audio tour of fossils in the city centre. To date, about 400 families have participated in the Fossil Hunt. Mark Pen, who did the tour with his family, remarks:

The Fossil Hunt is a real family activity and a quest of discovery that takes you to special, often hidden places and forgotten fossils. Some of them will be on display in the new museum. It’s an enjoyable way of connecting the city and the museum. Families get a sampling of how you can learn together through playful exploration. Utrecht University Museum will open in the summer of 2023 as the premier research museum of the Netherlands.

Lore Smit is a marketing and communications staff member at the museum.

Although we’re pretty familiar with Utrecht, we were still surprised by the fossils we encountered. Thanks to the app’s clear hints, they weren’t too hard to find. The quiz questions linked to the fossils were also quite doable, at least if you paid attention to the explanations. So do take the time to really listen or read via the app. Fossils don’t just have a long history; they’ve also travelled impressive distances. And all of this is right under our noses, visible in the street and in the facades of buildings. The tour changed the way we see the world quite a bit. We’ve since been finding fossils in more and more parts of other cities, too.

Mark Pen and his family went in search of fossils in the city of Utrecht.


The Fossil Hunt starts and ends at Utrecht University Museum. It’s suitable for young (ages 8-14) and old. 

Download the app


This article also appears in the second edition of the magazine Close-up, full of inspiring columns, background stories and experiences of researchers and support staff.

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Iemand maakt een foto van een fossiel tijdens de fossielenjact van het UMU