The Houston Museum of Natural Science is another of the outstanding museums in the Museum District. It is located on the northern edge of Hermann Park and is like five museums in one. They offer the: Burke Baker Planetarium which shows you views of space from earth and from points in outer space; the Cockrell Butterfly Center, a six story glass enclosure showing butterflies in a rain forest type environment; the Hall of Paleontology showing prehistoric beasts in action; the Cullen Gallery of Earth Science showing minerals and gemstones; and the Wortham Giant Screen Theatre which is six stories high and makes things seem to come to life. Hours are 9 AM to 5 PM daily. Admission is $25 for adults 12 to 64; $15 for kids 3 to 11, college students, and seniors (62+); $8 for military; special rates for groups of 10+ and for school groups; FREE on Thursdays from 2 PM to 5 PM (6 PM in the summer).
The museum is Free on Tuesdays and stays open till 8pm on that day. And if you go any other day, they will let you in for free in the last 30 minutes before they close. I always feel like they charge too much but if you follow one of those options you can save money. They also offer student discounts for any kid or teenager that brings a school ID. Anyways, having lived in Houston for most of my life, I have seen the museum grow and really love visiting this place. And they will soon (I believe in May 2012) be adding an extra whole floor dedicated to more dinosaurs and another to astronomy. The best of what they have now is the Gems and Minerals Hall and is definitely worth a visit! As for food, I'd recommend eating outside at nearby & cheap "Bodegas" which is just 2 blocks down Caroline street. They have great burritos and tacos there. The only big cons to the museum are the food options and weekday school crowds in the early mornings. I'd recommend visiting in the afternoon.
One of the advantages of living in such a huge city is the wealth of exhibitions that come through museums. The best come from the Houston Museum of Natural Science. Recently, we just finished the Body Worlds exhibit and a few months later is the Terra Cotta Warrior exhibit. And, yes, friends, the real things. I'm just using these as an example of the Mega-Museum that is in Downtown Houston.
Not only are there killer temporary exhibits but there are great permanent exhibits like the dinos and the Africa exhibit. The hands on physics area is also really fun.
You get into those with an admission ticket of about $25.00. Uh huh, that's right. It's not cheap! And that's not even getting started. Then you have the Kockrell Butterfly Center that costs around $10.00. And you can't pass up the IMAX theatre with their revolving movies for about the same price (maybe $13.00). And the off-site planetarium is a must for all astronomers and star gazers.
The gift shop is absolutely amazing. Good luck getting your kids out of there without pitching a fit. Actually, I'm sure you'll find something yourself!
It's a great family place. There is a McDonald's inside which is the only dining option but it's cheaper than other museums I've seen. Just beware, Houstonians LOVE this place and it can get very crowded, even on a Sunday afternoon.
Park in the garage that is connected to the museum. Parking is also about $10.00 so save your pennies to come here!
The Museum of Natural History of Houston has the usual exhibitions about dinosaurs, gems and minerals, planetarium and temporary exhibits, a lot geared for children. Themes of the permanent exhibits are:
- Gems & Minerals
- Smith Gem Vault
- Texas Wildlife
- African Wildlife
- The Americas
- Discovery Place
- Earth Forum
- Space Science
- The Pendulum
But to me, the most spectacular part is the butterfly greenhouse with its hundreds of beautiful large butterflies, its insects and the big iguana not to be missed!
It's opened Monday - Saturday 9 am - 5 pm and Sunday 11 am - 5 pm
Tickets are quite expensive, especially as the Butterfly exhibit ($8), Planetarium ($6) and Imax ($8) are sold separately from the other permanent exhibits ($9) and from the temporary exhibits. Prices are for adults as of 2006.
I enjoy this museum, and recommend it to new people to town. The Cullen Hall exhibit has the world's largest collection of display-quality gems/minerals. Spectacular (and as an avid mineral collector, I appreciate this). It has some of the nicest specimens I've seen -- lots of Elbaite (Tourmaline -- also called Rainbow or Watermelon Tourmeline), apophyllites from India, including the largest sky-blue Cavansite specimen I've seen, calcites, copper, gold, etc.
They added two huge vault doors, and opened the ?(forgot his name) and Sue Smith Gem Vault. Gems from all over, many from Minais Gerais, Brazil. There's 1,500+ carat Star Rose Quartz from Madagascar. The star-like reflectance is chayotancy. Several gems here exhibit that, there's an opal from Australia that has all the colors of the rainbow.
The Weiss Energy Hall has a lot of excellent exhibits on energy, including a holographic geologist, and a geovater where you "travel" down a borehole 7000 feet, frac the well, and ride the gusher back to the top of the well. I thought it would be hokey, but it was pretty well done. Great for kids. There's two IMAX screens, with three+ shows rotating daily. The Cockrell Butterfly exhibit is very good, and so is the Burke Baker Planetarium.
Recently, there was a very good new dinosaur exhibit, with new specimens from the U.S., China, and S. America, and Body Worlds 3.
Body Worlds 3 ran through or Sept., and is exhibits in which the artist/creator has taken cadavers and sliced off skin or muscles or bone, etc. and then immersed the corpse in plasticene so you can see amazing details. There are diseased as well as normal organs -- smoker's lung, emphysema lung, enlarged heart, tumors, etc. Most of the corpses are male, there are a few animals, and there are two women, one a young gymnast showing the musculature and facial structures. One is of a man on a horse, and he holds the horse's brain in his left hand and his own brain (about twice as large) in his right hand. Very popular exhibit.
Being the biggest museum in the Houston Museum District, as well as the city, the Houston Museum of Natural Science is one the city's most popular tourist atttractions. Within the main museum itself, there are many permanent exhibits, including one dedicated to prehistoric life and paleontology, with several huge dinosaur fossil displays. Also displays and exhibits of Ancient Egypt, Africa, precious stones and gems, and of course ones of space exploration and the energy and oil industry, two Houston icons. Throughout the year there are also may interesting temporary exhibits on display as well. But the Museum of Natural Science is more than just a museum! There is also an IMAX theater, the Burke-Baker Planetarium, and the Cockrell Butterfly Center, which is a huge rainforest-like natural exhibit that has thousands of butterflies and insects on display as if in their own natural enviornment. The museum is open 7 days a week, everyday of the year except Thanksgiving & Christmas Day. Admission to the permanent exhibits is $8 for adults, $4 for children, and admission to the other areas of the museum varies. Check out their website for exact pricing.
Found my way to the Museum District in Downtown Houston. Very nicely organized, and appeared traffic congested, but somehow found easy parking off Hermann Drive and wandered through the Houston Garden Center into Houston Museum of Natural Science. Large building with lots of exhibits ... Imax, The Cockrell Butterfly Center, Live Insect Zoo, Burke Baker Planetarium (and rides), George Observatory, Paleontology, Gems & Minerals, Energy, Texas Wildlife, Malacology, African Wildlife, The Americas, Chemistry, Discovery Place, Earth Forum, Space Science, The Pendulum, and Egypt. Special Exhibit on Gold ith an Imax to accompany it. So I selected that admission. $12 - Gold Exhibit, All Exhibits, and the Imax screening of "Gold Rush". Wandered around the Exhibits ... very nicely done. Really enjoyed "Egypt", Paleontology, and Gems & Minerals in the regular exhibit halls. I'll review about the Gold Exhibit in the next post. I really enjoyed the giant Pendulum they have extending several floors and acting like a 24 hour clock knocking over pegs to mark time. Unfortunately didn't have the amount of time I really need to go through the whole museum. I would place this Museum amongst one of the better Natural Science Museums I've been to.
Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5.
The Houston Museum of Natural Science is a great place to spend a morning or afternoon.
I went specifically to see the Dead Sea Scrolls which was a temporary exhibition between October 2004 and January 2005. It was excellent - really well presented!
At the same time there was also an exhitbition on Tibetan Treasures. I didn't see this exhibition however I heard it was equally as good.
The Houston Museum of Natural Science is at the edge of Hermann Park and within the Museum district of Houston. If you're in Houston for business or pleasure - this is one of the areas to get to first.
Check out the website link as well - excellent!
Prices: $6 for adult general admission
Special exhibitions may be extra.
The Muesum of Natural History in Houston isn't near as big as what you'd see in NYC or Washington DC, but provides a nice half-day activity nonetheless. It has a very in-depth display of minerals and gems and a good amount of dinosaur skeletons and fossils. There is also an IMAX theater and frequent special exhibitions that are very worthwhile (at an extra cost, of course).
Since we lived in Houston we bought membership passes so we could go to the museum anytime and see the IMAX movies at a big discount. The museum has lots of great exhibits, and the travelling exhibits that come through are magnificent. While we were there the jewels of the Russian royal family were on exhibit, and they are unbelievable! One of the pieces was a vase about 10" tall and 6"+ in diameter made of a single gemstone! The IMAX theater always has several shows going on at convenient times.
Houston Museum of Natural Science - I would say without a doubt that every visit to HMNS is an opportunity to experience the wonders of science and nature firsthand. Its the museum I visit the most and I love it. The spectacular exhibit halls and state-of-the-art venues offer remarkable insight into the world around us, from the age of dinosaurs to the era of space exploration.
The exhibit halls here include:
Gems and Minerals
Texas Wild Life
There is a planetarium, an observatory, an Imax theater, a butterfly center (pictured here,) a challenger center and all kinds of special events.