Let’s open a mini-museum!

Tap into your creative side and join DMNH’s online diorama exhibition. Here are things to keep in mind as you create your masterpieces.

  1. The theme of the diorama should be based on natural history or nature (examples: ecosystems like the Arctic, the Ocean, the Rainforest or even your local woods; go back in time to the Cretaceous or the Jurassic, or showcase different animals like birds or mollusks. Be creative!)
  2. All ages are welcome to participate and submissions are due by midnight on Friday, May 1
  3. Submissions should be no larger than the size of a shoe box, should include a photo of the diorama, a description of the setting, a list of materials used, and the reason why you picked that particular setting
  4. A toilet paper roll must be incorporated somewhere within your diorama (for example, it can be cut into a shape or pieces to make an animal or tree, etc.)
  5. Email submissions to info@delmnh.org or you may post on Facebook, Instagram and/or Twitter and tag Delaware Museum of Natural History (@delmnh) along with #DMNHminimuseum
  6. Dioramas will be featured in our online gallery on social media and the website.

Ocean Layers

“This diorama represents the sunlight, twilight, and midnight zones of the ocean and an animal that can be found in each layer. I knew I wanted to use the vase for the diorama and therefore had to choose a theme that could be represented vertically. After some research, I found some incredible creatures that live far beneath the ocean surface that would be a lot of fun to create and share with everyone.” – Cathy Perrotto

Supplies Used: 

  • Polymer Clay
  • Glass vase
  • Nail polish
  • Sponge
  • String
  • Hot glue
  • Scissors
  • Toilet paper tube (cut up to make the rocks on the ocean floor and the vampire squid’s webbing)
  • Permanent marker

Woods in Bucks County, Pennsylvania

“I chose the woods in Bucks County Pennsylvania as my theme, because I grew up playing in the woods and they will always have a special place in my heart.” – Emily Cossolini

Supplies Used:

  • Shoe box
  • Parts of different calendar backgrounds (lining the walls of the box)
  • One toilet paper roll (Base of the trees)
  • Cotton fuzz from Q-tips (Clouds)
  • Fake moss I had from decorating (tree tops/ grass)
  • Purple craft fuzz ball pulled apart (flowers)
  • Hot glue/ glue stick to put everything together
  • Colored pencils to color part of the grass

Ocean Floor

“I picked this setting because my nephew is obsessed with baby shark and eating goldfish, so I thought he’d appreciate having a shoe box version of the ocean.” – Hannah Kimani

Supplies Used:

I used a shoe box, construction paper, pipe cleaners, googly eyes, glue, marbles, shells I collected from the beach over the summer, a toilet paper roll (for the rocks), a napkin for the ocean floor, and of course goldfish!

Pond in Delaware

“I was inspired by our museum’s renovation plans.  I decided to make my own interpretation of a pond somewhere in Delaware.  In keeping with our exhibit renovation plans, I have my frog on a lily pad and a turtle sunning on a fallen log!  Lots of invertebrates (bugs).  I’ve incorporated Delaware’s state bug (ladybug), and my closest attempt at our state butterfly (the Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly)!” – Helen Bilinski

Supplies Used: 

I didn’t have much in the way of crafting products to work with, so I relied on a nice selection of animal and plant related pins that were once owned by my grandmother (and I used to play dress-up with).  I also used poly-fil stuffing for my clouds, an empty toilet roll tube for my tree, Easter grass for my own grass and an empty dog “poop” bag roll tube. My pond is made of packing paper and my sky is construction paper.

Pennsylvania Woods on a Winter Night

“The theme of my diorama was inspired by my own backyard and the majority of the materials used were found there!” – Mars Parker

Supplies Used:

  • one toilet paper roll (the tree stump)
  • Large boot box
  • felt (landscape and sky)
  •  Playmobil animals, selenite (the moon)
  • beeswax (the mushrooms)
  •  natural items (bark, moss, leaves, fungus, lichen , etc) found in my backyard!

A Yangchuanosaurus skeleton, complete with a vibrant prehistoric jungle setting

“I missed our dinos at the museum, so I wanted a little one to have at home!” – Matt McGraw

Supplies used: 4 toilet paper rolls, a popsicle stick, some tape, a Styrofoam plate, a sharpie, my succulents.

Coral Reef

by Darcie and Jocelyn Martin

Supplies used: 

  • Shoe box
  • scrap construction paper
  • Toilet paper roll (giant clam)
  • sea shells
  • blue tulle
  • Foam stickers (turtle, sea stars and coral)
  • plastic bracelet stuff (I don’t know what it is called)


Amazon Rainforest

“I chose the Amazon rainforest because of my love for our Boa constrictor, Lady Gaga! She is native to South America, where she can live in the rainforest, among many other habitats.” – Morgan Lyons

Supplies used:

  • hot glue
  • paper towel and toilet tissue tubes
  • construction paper
  • pom poms
  • paper bag
  • twine
  • tape
  • crayons
  • polymer clay
  • flowers

Cretaceous Delaware

Sixty-six million years ago, Delaware was the bottom of a shallow sea. Squid-like Belemnites swam in schools by the thousands amid plants and soft-bodied creatures that are now long lost from any fossil record. Snails like Acteon, fed on the plants. Baby oysters like Exogyra clung to the rocks. Sea urchins scavenged the floor. Off in the distance, hungry Mossasaurs chased their prey and Plesiosaurs drifted in the deep. Fossils of all these creatures’ ancestors, unburied by borrowing crabs, lie mixed in with the stone, silt, and sand.

“The Cretaceous fossils of Delaware have a special place in my heart. The dredge spoils from the C & D Canal were the first site my family explored together over 15 years ago. My children grew up picking out Belemnites, corals, sponges, and sea shells from the loose sand. We took friends there to explore. I still visit the site a couple times a year.

As a DMNH Collections and Research Volunteer, my primary project for the last couple years has been to identify everything in a recent donation that we believe is the most extensive and diverse collection of C & D Canal fossils ever assembled. The bulk of the species in this collection have never been documented in the region and there are probably some species in there that have yet to be described. Every time I come to the museum, I get to see animals that I have never seen before!” – Heather Siple, Collections & Research Volunteer

1 Sea urchins

2 Acteon sp

  1. Belemnites americanus

4 Exogyra cancellata (actual fossils)

5 Belemnites americanus rostrum (similar to a skull) fossil

6 Anomia sp. fossil shell

Supplies used:

  • Shoe box (hinged lid extended out)
  • A shirt
  • Pins
  • Masking tape
  • Sandpaper
  • Image printed from the web
  • Homemade bread clay
  • Acrylic paint
  • Nail polish
  • Food dye
  • Bamboo skewers
  • Toilet paper tube
  • Tissue paper
  • Plastic plant from my fish tank
  • Pompoms
  • Sprouting potatoes
  • Fossils from the C&D Canal, Delaware City, Delaware

DT’s Project Chest: The Late Jurassic

by Danny Tate

Our Solar System

“I picked that setting because my two favorite themes of natural history are dinosaurs and space, but I figured more people would be doing dinosaurs.” – Zack Zajaczkowski

Supplies used (mostly recyclable cardboard):

  • Shoebox as space
  • Pizza box as Mercury
  • Cheese curd box as Venus
  • Ginger ale & tissue box as Earth
  • Oreo ice cream bar box as our moon
  • Mayochup box as Mars
  • Special K box as Jupiter
  • Almond ice cream bar box as Saturn
  • Oreo ice cream bar box as Uranus
  • Tissue box as Neptune
  • Cheerio box as Pluto
  • Lemonade box as our Sun
  • Toilet paper roll (shredded) as the asteroid belt and other smaller debris around the solar system

Delaware Tidal Salt Marsh

“I have always loved the salt marsh and how it is such an important ecosystem. There are so many different species that rely on it for food, a home, and a place to nest. I only included a few in the diorama. The trees are made out of empty toilet paper rolls. Animals included: Marsh wren, Marsh wren nest, Green-winged teal, muskrat, diamondback terrapin, horseshoe crab, bullfrog, Pintail, Great blue heron.” – Sydney Richter

Supplies used: 

  • Tupperware container
  • Printer and paper
  • Wide clear tape (to laminate the pictures and names)
  • Pen
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Sticks
  • Straw-type plant
  • Moss and grass
  • Mud
  • Water
  • Toilet paper