Get excited: In just 5 weeks, the Perot Museum of Nature and Science will open its doors (and glass-sided elevators) to families in the DFW area. With 11 permanent exhibit halls and a traveling exhibition gallery, the museum promises the best in scientific fun for families. Today we got a sneak peak of the state-of-the-art Hoglund Foundation Theater and two exhibit halls on Level 4 of the Museum.
The 298-seat theater is gorgeous; the design reflects the textured façade of the museum. But the magic really begins when you don your 3D glasses and watch everything from prehistoric predators to animated turtles come to life on the screen. Today we saw previews of two National Geographic films, Sea Monsters and Meerkats, both showing this winter (and both looking spectacular in that in-your-face mode of the latest 3D technology). The Perot Museum will be keeping prices low, with $5 tickets for short films in the morning and $6–$8 tickets for longer films in the afternoon and evening. Expect exclusive Nat-Geo reels, animated stories, live streaming and anything else you could watch from the comfort of a gently-reclining theater seat.
What I love about this museum is that no space is wasted. Just about every space in the museum provides an experience, from the musical stairs to the elevators that reveal their mechanisms, from the dancing water molecules in the Level 4 atrium to the solar-powered hanging sculpture by Daniel Chadwick. You and the kiddos will discover something new everywhere you look. This place is an explorer’s dream – and the whimsy will please kids and kids-at-heart alike (you should have seen me ogling those molecules).
But if you can drag the kiddos away from the musical stairs, the T. Boone Pickens Life Then and Now Hall and the adjoining Rose Hall of Birds will be must-sees. And once the young ones spy the monstrous Alamosaurus towering over the exhibit hall, I don’t think you’ll have any trouble luring them in. The Pickens Hall houses other dinosaur skeletons, many, like the relatively small Dallasaurus, unearthed locally – which may have your kids begging to go fossil-hunting. You will also find contemporary specimens, such as moose and bison, that are used to make comparisons to prehistoric animal lifestyles.
The Hall of Birds is one I wish existed when I was growing up. It’s all about interactive learning, including a station-by-station Build Your Own Bird activity where kids can design everything from feathers to songs of their very own species – and then see it fly. Or they can stand in front of a 3D screen and maneuver an eagle through mountainous terrain using their own body movements. Think Wii, but without the remote and with more educational value.
Though we only toured a small part of the 180,000-square-foot museum, I’m already excited to return when the whole thing opens up. This is exactly the kind of museum I would have loved when I was a kid – and that I know I will still enjoy now. It’s snazzy, it’s scientific and it’s all about making connections to the here-and-now.
Patience, my friends. December 1 will be here soon enough. In the meantime, visit perotmuseum.org for more information.
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