Fake gold, dinosaur bones, and pictures of Attila the Hun are no longer the only objects you can take home from the American Museum of Natural History. Now, scholars can be awarded a Ph.D. in comparative biology from the Museum’s newly created Richard Gilder Graduate School, America's first doctoral program at a museum.
The first class of students will enroll in the fall 2008. John Flynn, the lead curator at the AMNH who recently discovered South America's oldest and best-preserved primate skull and rodent skulls with colleagues, was named Dean of the school.

Gothamist wonders if Night At the Museum will be required viewing for the first class of students. The film released in December 2006 has already boosted attendance at the museum. In the first ten days after the movie's opening, the museum reported a twenty percent attendance increase compared to the same period last year.

The museum is currently renovating space to house the Ph.D. program. If the graduate students have to pull an all-nighter for research, what will they see or be tempted to try while on the job? Back in 2004, one keeper mentioned his secret dream: "To tell you the truth. I'd love to ride my skateboard around the elephants, but there are all those security cameras."

Photograph from one of the Museum of Natural History's dioramas by Bluejake