Recently, I read that the Houston Museum of Natural Science is one the Top 10 most attended museums in the United States. Really? A museum filled with nature? I was skeptical, but wanted to see what it was all about. With the exception of the recently opened Perot Museum of Nature & Science in Dallas, the Houston Museum of Natural Science is one of the best natural science museums I have ever visited.
Located in Hermann Park near downtown Houston, you can easily spend hours here in amazement of the size of the dinosaurs, star-struck by the sparkling gems, and peering eye-to-eye with Texas wildlife.
Here are some of our favorites of the Houston Museum of Natural Science:
Morian Hall of Paleontology: We made a bee-line to this exhibit, as my son is very into dinosaurs right now. The enormity of the exhibit is amazing. The hall is packed with life-sized fossils, dinosaur bones, and replicas. And they are all set in different situations. You shake your head in amazement when you see the Megalodon chasing the mammoth – the size comparison is unbelievable. This exhibit is excellent. We could have spent hours in here.
Farish Hall of Texas Wildlife: Featuring realistic displays of all animals unique to our great state, the kids really enjoyed seeing the mountain lions, the Gulf Coast birds, and southwest Texas reptiles. You can walk completely around the displays, they are not your typical set-in-the-wall diorama displays.
African Wildlife Display: Similar to the Texas Wildlife, species from the African continent are on display. You can compare your size to a gorilla like my daughter did.
Gems & Minerals and Gem Vault: This display is darkened to see the sparkling gems in all their glory. It also offered a hushed and respectful tone that my kids appreciated. They would whisper in excited tons to show me one gorgeous mineral after another. It was amazing for the kids to understand how all of these items of beauty were made in nature. The Gem Vault features some exquisite pieces of jewelry as well.
Strake Hall of Malacology: We learned that the study of mollusks is malacology and it is fascinating. The day we visited, we lucked upon some museum employees that brought this study to life for us. We learned how shells grow and what they use as defense mechanisms. My kids were ready to pass this display by if it hadn’t been for the employees bringing it to life for us.
Welch Chemistry Hall: This display had lots of hands-on activities that my kids took their time with. Here you can learn about the weights of different elements, different states of matter, polymers and more – all stuff I learned in college, but never in this fun way.
There is so much more to do at the Houston Museum of Natural Science, including a planetarium, Butterfly Center and IMAX theatre. Plus they have several traveling exhibits they host through out the year. Basically, this museum is not a one time thing. I can see how each visit can be vastly different, based on what activities are available, where museum employees are displaying, and what interests you.
Don’t hesitate going with children! My 12 & 10 year old were fascinated through out and the 3 year old was happy viewing it all from a stroller and getting out to see what his older siblings were interested in. All of us enjoyed our time there.