Experience the world outside at the Houston Museum of Natural Science
We are lucky in Houston. In addition to having an exceptional symphony, an entertaining free outdoor theater and a top-notch ballet company, we have world-class museums that offer innovative permanent exhibits, as well as traveling exhibits from around the world. The Houston Museum of Natural Science resides in the company of the Smithsonian Institution, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the American Museum of Natural History as one of the most heavily attended museums in the country. The museum is constantly providing fresh, engaging educational exhibits and films, so visitors always have something new to discover.
Located on four floors of the museum, there are wonderful permanent exhibit halls offering inspiring education. From the age-old carnivores in the Paleontology Hall to the exceptional display of minerals in the world-renowned Cullen Hall of Gems and Minerals, guests find a wealth of enlightening opportunities. In addition, the John P. McGovern Hall of the Americas, the expansive Wiess Energy Hall and the interactive displays of the Welch Chemistry Hall are also available to visitors all year long.
The Houston Museum of Natural Science offers a look into an array of traveling exhibits from all over the globe that stop in Houston for only a short while. To Houstonians’ delight, some of these have included The Dead Sea Scrolls, Tibet: Treasures from the Roof of the World, and Secret World of the Forbidden City. The museum also creates temporary exhibits of its own – to much acclaim – including Gold! Natural Treasure, Cultural Obsession and The Human Genome: Reading the Book of Life. The wonderful temporary exhibits offer the museum’s many regular visitors something new and exciting.
Big screen discoveries
As one of only two museums in the world that produce and distribute large-format films, the Houston Museum of Natural Science offers a unique IMAX experience. The museum has distributed five films since 1994, including “Africa: The Serengeti,” “Amazing Journeys,” “Kilimanjaro: To the Roof of Africa” and “Australia: Land Beyond Time.” The film “Alaska: Spirit of the Wild” was nominated for an Academy Award in 1997. The IMAX films offer both adults and children the opportunity to feel they are inside the films and are a part of the action.
On the wings of a butterfly
A unique feature of the Houston Museum of Natural Science is the live exhibit in the Cockrell Butterfly Center. Featured in a naturalistic rainforest setting, hundreds of live butterflies surround visitors upon entering the center. Filled with tropical plants and exotic butterflies, the three-story glass cone serves as a central conservatory. Visitors can expect to view 50-60 species of the largest and most colorful butterflies from around the world – one might even land on you. Raised in Asia and North, Central and South America on butterfly farms, the museum receives each butterfly in its chrysalis form. If you’re lucky, you can see a butterfly emerge in the Chrysalis Corner!
An Insect Zoo is also included in the Butterfly Center, which houses an array of creepy-crawly relatives of the butterfly. Hundreds of butterfly, moth, beetle and other insect specimens are preserved and housed in the center’s Entomology Hall, as well.
One of the center’s main goals is to promote butterfly watching, gardening and conservation. You can learn how to grow a garden that provides sweet nectar to attract the many butterfly species here in Houston.
Science comes alive
The museum offers a variety of programs for children and families to bring science alive for school children. From special events to birthday parties, Saturday Xplorations to VIP overnight events, there is always an assortment of activities for children and families at the Houston Museum of Natural Science. In fact, students in fourth through seventh grade in the Houston Independent School District enjoy instructional field trips to the museum as part of their school curriculum. Many of the special exhibitions offer Xplorations Stations designed to capture the childrens’ interest in the various exhibits.
One Hermann Circle Drive,
(713) 639-4629, www.hmns.org