Texas Memorial Museum

We celebrated the first “official” day of summer (June 20) by spending the afternoon visiting the cool and inviting Texas Memorial Museum on The University of Texas at Austin campus at 2400 Trinity Street. The museum serves as an “exhibit hall” for the Texas Natural Science Center.

We parked in the San Jacinto Parking Garage and followed the signs to the front of the museum. This mighty saber-toothed cat welcomed us!

wpid-img_1741-2012-06-20-17-57.jpg

The entrance takes you to the Great Hall, featuring the museum’s most valuable specimens like Quetzalcoatalus northropi, the Texas Pterosaur.

wpid-img_1748-2012-06-20-17-57.jpg

Also in the Great Hall, you can view the E.M. Barron Exhibit of Minerals and Gem Collections. You might be surprised by how much your children enjoy looking at these “rocks.”

On the third floor, we saw this beautiful display in the Hall of Texas Wildlife.

wpid-img_1753-2012-06-20-17-57.jpg

The Hall of Texas Wildlife also includes wildlife dioramas, which are models (or examples) of different creatures that live in Texas, from ducks to snakes to fish.

We took the stairs to the fourth floor exhibit, the Hall of Biodiversity, where you will find an interactive learning center focused on the understanding of biological evolution. My 6-year-old son was interested in this computer exhibit about diatoms.

wpid-img_1760-2012-06-20-17-57.jpg

We took the elevator down to the first floor, the Hall of Geology and Paleontology, which holds over 500 dinosaur and fossil specimens. This is our favorite part of the museum!

wpid-img_1768-2012-06-20-17-57.jpg

(You better not hit that armadillo with your car!)

The museum has a cell phone audio tour so you can learn more about featured exhibits, like this giant ground sloth.

wpid-img_1769-2012-06-20-17-57.jpg

Kids love the Discovery Drawers. All sorts of irresistible items are stored within!

wpid-img_1775-2012-06-20-17-57.jpg

A “real life” paleontologist was on hand in the Paleo Lab to talk with visitors about fossils.

wpid-img_1777-2012-06-20-17-57.jpg

The Texas Memorial Museum has a unique history: it was built in celebration of Texas’ centennial in 1936. The University of Texas, the State of Texas, and the Texas American Legion joined forces to establish this state museum. “Erected to commemorate the heroic period of early Texas history and to celebrate a century of the independence and progress of Texas as a republic and state and dedicated to the study of the natural sciences and civic history” is engraved on the western facade of the building.

wpid-img_1785-2012-06-20-17-57.jpg

Architecture aficionados will note the building’s 1930s Art Deco style, exemplified in the bronze front doors.

wpid-img_1783-2012-06-20-17-57.jpg

After exiting the doors on the west side of the building, we walked toward the Mustangs statue, across San Jacinto Boulevard, and down to Waller Creek. The boys spent about 30 minutes exploring around the creek bed and taking a “hands on” approach to their natural science education!

wpid-img_1788-2012-06-20-17-57.jpg

THE RUNDOWN:
Austin Active Kids Opinion: An educational indoor escape for a sweltering afternoon!
Outing Time: About 2 hours 15 minutes
Reminders: Admission to the museum is free. (Donations accepted.) There is a gift shop on the 2nd floor, adjacent to the Great Hall. The parking garage costs $9 for 2 hours on a weekday. On weekends, you might be able to find street parking and avoid the garage expense.

Advertisements

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: