Houston Museum of Natural Science

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Why I Chose This Museum

Today, I wanted to feature a museum about science located in the state of Texas. As we move around the country, I continually search for a diversity, not only in type of museum, but also in the size and scope of institution featured.

About

The Houston Museum of Natural Science-one of the nation’s most heavily attended museums-is a centerpiece of the Houston Museum District. With four floors of permanent exhibit halls, and the Wortham Giant Screen Theatre, Cockrell Butterfly Center, Burke Baker Planetarium, George Observatory, and HMNS at Sugar Land and as host to world-class and ever-changing touring exhibitions, the Museum has something to delight every age group. With such diverse and extraordinary offerings, a trip to the Houston Museum of Natural Science, located at 5555 Hermann Park Drive in the heart of the Museum District, is always an adventure.

What to expect

Visitors enjoy a world-class facility that includes the Wortham Giant Screen Theatre; the Burke Baker Planetarium; the Cockrell Butterfly Center; the George Observatory; HMNS at Sugar Land; and the Museum’s permanent exhibit halls.

The Museum strives to continually offer new, entertaining and innovative educational films, exhibits and halls. Through the funding raised by a capital campaign, the Museum expanded its exhibit halls into the Dan L Duncan Family Wing and opened a newly designed Morian Hall of Paleontology in 2012 followed by the Hall of Ancient Egypt in 2013. The permanent exhibit halls, located on four floors, add additional science topics that range from the world-renowned Cullen Hall of Gems and Minerals, whose mineral collection is widely considered to be the best in the world; the John P. McGovern Hall of the Americas; the Texas-size Wiess Energy Hall, which is now a model for all others; the Welch Chemistry Hall with interactive, hands-on displays, exhibits, and a live demonstration theater; and more.

In addition to creating its own exhibits like Lucy’s Legacy: The Hidden Treasures of Ethiopia ; Kremlin Gold: 1000 Years of Russian Gems and Jewels and The Human Genome: Reading the Book of Life , the Museum is host to a great variety of traveling exhibits from around the world that encourage visitors to return often. Some of these exhibits have included Body Worlds 3: The Anatomical Exhibition of Real Human Bodies ; Dead Sea Scrolls ; Terra Cotta Warriors: Guardians of China’s First Emperor ; Fabergé: Imperial Jeweler to the Tsars ; Titanic: The Artifact Exhibit and Saint Peter and the Vatican: The Legacy of the Popes .

The Burke Baker Planetarium features immersive action technology called “Sky Vision” with high-resolution full color images completely controlled by computers. This projector system enhances images, giving them a “wrap-around” full-dome effect, putting audiences in the middle of the action. The Museum is one of two museums world-wide that produce and distribute large format films. Since 1994, the Museum has distributed five films, including Africa: The Serengeti (1994), the Academy Award™ nominated Alaska: Spirit of the Wild (1997), Amazing Journeys (1999), Kilimanjaro: To the Roof of Africa (2002) and Australia: Land Beyond Time (2002).

Technology

The museum offers free WiFi. No audio tours and no mobile technology has been implemented. The museum has a very active and interesting blog, and it’s digital footprint can be found through most social media outlets. The museum website is not mobile-friendly (on the date of publication).

Tours

There are different guided tours provided by the museum docents in some of the exhibit halls. Some are regularly scheduled tours, others require reservations and cost $5. To get more specific information, please visit this museum webpage.

Collection/Exhibit Highlights

From the Museum Blog

Accessibility

Prices and Membership information is available online. The museum is accredited by the AAM, so I am confident that their ADA accessibility is in compliance with the AAM guidelines. There is no statement available from the website.

Accreditation

American Alliance of Museums – includes accreditation for The George Observatory, Brazos Bend State Park and the HMNS at Sugarland

Special Note

Fundraising Needs: Save Our Scope: The George Observatory’s Research Dome houses the world-class 10-ton Gueymard Telescope, the largest in the country dedicated to public education. It’s designed by the same folks that created the Hubble telescope. But unlike ANY other meter-class telescopes — you can actually look into the Gueymard! With other telescopes, your view comes through attached cameras or computer screens – with the Gueymard, you OWN the experience as you gaze into the wonder of deep space, and actually see a planet or galaxy with your own eyes. Want to help donate to the needed $80,000 technical updates? Visit this webpage.

I enjoyed this video of the de-installation of “Dipsy” – it shows how museum work takes place in a fun and creative way.

Social Networks

WEBSITE

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