Houston Museum of Natural Science: Exploring Earth's Wonders
The Houston Museum of Natural Science (HMNS) is a successful institution recognized for its commitment to showcasing the wonders of natural and cultural history. Founded in 1909, the museum has grown astonishingly over the years and is now one of the top museums in the United States.
- Museum history
- Permanent exhibits
- Special exhibitions
- Museum’s other facilities
- Opening hours and admission fees
- How to get to the museum
With a heartfelt mission to ignite curiosity and foster a lifelong passion for learning, HMNS continuously adapts and expands its offerings, leaving a lasting impact on both the local community and visitors from all corners of the globe.
The Houston Museum of Natural Science (HMNS) has a rich history. Founded in 1909 as the Houston Museum and Scientific Society, it was first housed in Houston City Hall before moving to its current location in Hermann Park in 1969.
The mission of HMNS is to preserve and advance the general understanding of natural science while providing an engaging environment for visitors of all ages. This mission is accomplished through the creation and maintenance of captivating exhibits, educational programs, and research endeavors.
By collaborating with other institutions, experts, and the local community, HMNS remains committed to fostering curiosity, promoting lifelong learning, and preserving our natural and cultural history.
The Houston Museum of Natural Science boasts an incredible array of permanent exhibits that cater to a wide range of interests, showcasing the fascinating world of natural science and cultural history. These exhibits offer visitors the opportunity to explore the wonders of our planet and beyond, capturing the imagination of both young and old.
Morian Hall of Paleontology
The Morian Hall of Paleontology is a true marvel, featuring an extensive collection of dinosaur fossils and prehistoric creatures. Spanning across the entire history of life on Earth, this exhibit invites guests to walk among towering skeletons, such as the fearsome Tyrannosaurus rex and the majestic Triceratops.
The hall also presents a remarkable collection of ancient mammals, marine creatures, and prehistoric plants, offering a comprehensive look into the Earth’s past and the process of evolution.
- The incredible Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton is undoubtedly a highlight of the exhibit, impressing visitors with its massive size and fearsome presence as one of history’s most iconic predators.
- In addition to the T. rex, the exhibit also features the striking Triceratops, a well-known herbivore with a remarkable three-horned skull and a large, bony frill. This display allows visitors to truly appreciate the fascinating details of this amazing dinosaur.
- Another must-see is the immense Quetzalcoatlus, one of the largest flying animals to ever grace the skies. The exhibit includes a life-size model, providing guests with a true understanding of the creature’s massive wingspan and captivating appearance.
- Visitors can also marvel at the Mosasaur, a gigantic marine reptile that ruled the ancient oceans. This awe-inspiring specimen highlights the incredible diversity of marine life that once existed.
- The unique, sail-backed Dimetrodon is another intriguing creature on display. This pre-dinosaur animal lived during the early Permian period and offers insights into the evolutionary journey of life on Earth.
- The hall also includes a collection of exquisitely preserved fossilized plants and trees, allowing visitors to learn about the ancient flora that thrived millions of years ago.
Moreover, the Morian Hall of Paleontology features several predator-prey displays, designed to capture the dramatic interactions that took place in the prehistoric world. These engaging exhibits showcase the fossils in action, bringing to life the thrilling stories of survival from our planet’s distant past.
Hall of Ancient Egypt
The Hall of Ancient Egypt at the Houston Museum of Natural Science is a must-see exhibit for anyone fascinated by the rich history, art, and culture of this ancient civilization.
As you embark on this captivating journey, there are several notable pieces that you simply cannot miss. Here are a few highlights to make your visit truly memorable and enjoyable:
- The Coffin of Neskhons: This beautifully preserved wooden coffin belonged to Neskhons, a noblewoman who lived during the 21st Dynasty of Egypt. Intricately adorned with hieroglyphs, religious texts, and scenes from the afterlife, the coffin offers an intimate glimpse into the beliefs and customs of ancient Egyptians.
- The Mummy of Ankh Hap: Ankh Hap was a high-ranking official during the Middle Kingdom, and his well-preserved mummy allows visitors to come face-to-face with someone who lived over 3,500 years ago. The exhibit also offers insights into the mummification process and the significance of preserving the body for the afterlife.
- The Canopic Jars: Canopic jars were used by ancient Egyptians to store the internal organs of the deceased, and the examples on display showcase the intricate artistry that went into their creation. Each jar features a protective deity and offers a fascinating look into the rituals associated with the journey to the afterlife.
- The Statue of Horus: This stunning statue of Horus, the falcon-headed god of the sky and kingship, is a striking example of ancient Egyptian craftsmanship. Standing guard in the exhibit, the statue embodies the power and mystique of ancient Egyptian mythology.
- The Senet Game Board: Senet was a popular board game in ancient Egypt, and the exhibit features a beautifully carved example made from wood and ivory. This piece not only highlights the leisure activities enjoyed by ancient Egyptians, but it also showcases their exquisite artistry and skill.
As you explore The Hall of Ancient Egypt, these must-see pieces will undoubtedly enrich your experience and provide a deeper understanding of the lives, beliefs, and customs of this fascinating civilization.
Farish Hall of Texas Wildlife
The Farish Hall of Texas Wildlife provides an immersive experience into the diverse ecosystems found within the Lone Star State. Through meticulously crafted dioramas, visitors can explore various habitats and the rich array of species that call Texas home.
From the arid deserts and grasslands to the lush forests and coastal wetlands, this exhibit highlights the unique environmental tapestry of Texas and the importance of conservation efforts.
Wiess Energy Hall
The Wiess Energy Hall at the Houston Museum of Natural Science is an enthralling and interactive exhibit that delves into the captivating world of energy production, consumption, and innovation. As you venture through this engaging space, you’ll encounter several must-see pieces that promise to enhance your understanding of the energy industry and its impact on our lives.
- The Energy City: Immerse yourself in the astonishing 2,500-square-foot 3D model that showcases Houston and its surrounding energy infrastructure. The Energy City comes alive with an impressive light show and intricate animations, demonstrating the processes and technologies that power our daily lives. This exhibit offers a unique visual experience, allowing visitors to grasp the complexity of the energy industry.
- The Geovator: Embark on an exhilarating simulated journey to the depths of the Earth’s crust as you step inside the Geovator. This immersive experience takes you on a thrilling ride through layers of rock and sediment, uncovering the geological processes that have shaped our planet and revealing the secrets hidden beneath our feet. An unforgettable adventure that blends education and entertainment.
- The Dynamic Drilling Rig: Get up close and personal with the inner workings of a drilling rig in this life-sized, hands-on exhibit. The Dynamic Drilling Rig enables visitors to interact with various components of the drilling process, learning about cutting-edge technology and engineering techniques used to extract valuable resources from the Earth.
- Renewable Energy Sources: Uncover the potential of renewable energy sources like solar, wind, and hydropower in this informative and visually appealing display. Learn about the benefits and challenges of incorporating these clean energy options into our daily lives, and witness firsthand the innovative technologies driving the transition towards a more sustainable future.
- The Energy Jukebox: Discover the diverse range of energy sources that power our world with the Energy Jukebox, an interactive touchscreen display that delves into the science, technology, and history behind various forms of energy production. From solar and wind to nuclear and fossil fuels, this exhibit offers a comprehensive look at the pros and cons of each energy source.
Cullen Hall of Gems and Minerals
The Cullen Hall of Gems and Minerals is a mesmerizing exhibit that features an extensive array of precious gemstones, striking minerals, and impressive crystal formations.
Visitors can marvel at the vivid colors, intricate patterns, and the sheer beauty of these natural treasures. From the tiniest gems used in intricate jewelry to the awe-inspiring Empress of Uruguay amethyst geode, this exhibit captures the stunning artistry of the Earth’s geological processes.
Herzstein Foucault Pendulum
The Herzstein Foucault Pendulum, located in the museum’s grand entrance, is an elegant and captivating demonstration of Earth’s rotation. Named after French physicist Léon Foucault, the pendulum gracefully swings back and forth, gradually rotating in a predictable pattern due to the Earth’s movement.
This seemingly simple yet powerful exhibit offers visitors a chance to witness the forces at play in our everyday lives, serving as a testament to the beauty of science and discovery.
Morian Cabinet of Curiosities
The Morian Cabinet of Curiosities is a delightful exhibit that harks back to the curiosity cabinets of the Renaissance, a time when collectors sought to display the wonders of the natural and man-made worlds.
Within this enchanting space, visitors can explore a diverse range of artifacts, from exquisite works of art and intricate scientific instruments to exotic specimens and historical relics. This exhibit sparks the imagination and celebrates the human spirit of inquiry and exploration.
The Houston Museum of Natural Science (HMNS) frequently hosts a variety of special exhibitions that offer visitors the chance to explore unique and captivating topics in greater depth.
These temporary exhibits cover a wide range of subjects and are often highly immersive, providing a memorable experience for guests. Some examples of recent special exhibitions at HMNS include King Tut’s Tomb Discovery Experience, Dreher Masterworks, and Gaia – Earth by Luke Jerram.
King Tut’s Tomb Discovery Experience
Embark on an enthralling adventure with the King Tut’s Tomb Discovery Experience, which highlights the incredible discovery of King Tutankhamun’s tomb by British archaeologist Howard Carter in 1922.
This unique exhibit provides an intriguing look into the life and era of the young pharaoh, presenting an impressive collection of replica treasures and artifacts from the tomb, as well as comprehensive information on the historical context and importance of the find.
Through engaging displays and interactive features, visitors can delve into ancient Egyptian culture, discover the rich history of the period, and share in the excitement of one of the most significant archaeological discoveries of the 20th century.
Immerse yourself in the fascinating realm of gem carving at the Dreher Masterworks exhibition. This captivating display features the exceptional creations of the talented Patrick Dreher and his family, who have honed their gem-carving skills over five generations.
As you explore the exhibit, you’ll be treated to a breathtaking collection of intricately carved gemstones and minerals, each a shining example of the Drehers’ masterful artistry.
Delve into the world of gem carving as you admire the astonishing details and fine craftsmanship of these singular masterpieces, gaining a deeper understanding of this remarkable art form and the creative journey behind these stunning works.
Gaia – Earth by Luke Jerram
Experience the wonder and vulnerability of our planet through the Gaia – Earth by Luke Jerram exhibition, a truly unique and awe-inspiring installation.
At the heart of this exhibit is an enormous, 23-foot diameter, highly detailed replica of Earth, gracefully suspended in mid-air and lit from within. Harnessing high-resolution NASA imagery, this installation presents an extraordinary view of our planet as if seen from space, prompting visitors to ponder Earth’s exquisite beauty, fragility, and interconnected nature.
Alongside the central display, you’ll find additional educational materials and interactive components that encourage reflection on the challenges our planet faces and the vital role of conservation efforts.
Museum’s other facilities
The Houston Museum of Natural Science (HMNS) offers several additional facilities that complement its main exhibits and further enhance the visitor experience. These facilities provide immersive, interactive, and educational experiences that cater to a wide range of interests.
Burke Baker Planetarium
The Burke Baker Planetarium, one of the most advanced planetariums in the United States, invites visitors on an awe-inspiring journey through the cosmos.
Equipped with state-of-the-art technology, including a high-resolution digital projection system and a cutting-edge surround sound system, the planetarium presents breathtaking shows exploring our solar system, galaxy, and the universe beyond.
The engaging presentations cater to all age groups, offering a unique and memorable experience for anyone interested in astronomy and space exploration.
Wortham Giant Screen Theatre
The Wortham Giant Screen Theater offers an immersive cinematic experience with a huge 60 foot by 80 foot screen and a powerful sound system.
The theater shows a variety of educational films and documentaries covering topics such as nature, science, history and culture. With comfortable seating and stunning picture and sound quality, the Wortham Giant Screen Theater takes audiences on unforgettable journeys through the wonders of our world and beyond.
Cockrell Butterfly Center
The Cockrell Butterfly Center is a lush, three-story glass-enclosed conservatory that transports visitors to a tropical rainforest teeming with life. The center is home to thousands of butterflies representing numerous species from around the world, as well as a variety of exotic plants, insects, and even small birds.
Guests can walk along the winding paths, observing the butterflies as they flutter about, and learn about their life cycle and the importance of conservation efforts. The Cockrell Butterfly Center offers an enchanting, immersive experience that is both educational and visually stunning.
Opening hours and admission fees
The Houston Museum of Natural Science typically operates from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM on weekdays. However, these hours may be subject to change during special events or holidays.
General admission prices range from $13 to $25, with discounts available for children, seniors, and military personnel. If you’re planning to visit multiple attractions in Houston, consider purchasing the Houston CityPASS, which provides discounted admission to several popular destinations, including HMNS.
How long does it take to walk through the museum?
The time it takes to explore the Houston Museum of Natural Science varies depending on each visitor’s interests and the depth to which they wish to delve into the exhibits. On average, guests can expect to spend anywhere from 2 to 4 hours at the museum.
However, those looking to immerse themselves more fully in the exhibits or participate in additional experiences, such as the planetarium or butterfly center, may find that a full day is needed to truly appreciate all that the museum has to offer.
How to get to the museum
Reaching the Houston Museum of Natural Science (HMNS) is relatively straightforward. The museum is conveniently located in Houston’s beautiful Hermann Park at 5555 Hermann Park Drive, Houston, TX 77030.
- By car
Reaching the museum by car is a breeze, with easy access from several major highways such as Highway 59, Highway 288, and Interstate 45.
From Highway 59, take the Fannin Street exit and head south until you reach Hermann Park. From Highway 288, take the Southmore Boulevard/Calumet Street exit, and from Interstate 45, take the Scott Street exit. In both instances, simply follow the signs to the museum.
Parking: HMNS provides convenient parking options for visitors. The museum’s six-story parking garage, situated at 1617 Fannin Street, offers ample space for guests.
The Houston Museum of Natural Science offers various free parking options for visitors, making it even more convenient to enjoy the museum’s exhibits. Guests can take advantage of free 3-hour parking at the McGovern Centennial Gardens (Lot C) and the lot directly off the traffic circle, near the statue of Sam Houston (Lot A).
Additional free daily parking is available near the Zoo (Lots D, E, F, G, and H). Limited free parking spots can also be found in front of HMNS on Caroline Street, as well as a few Handicap Reserved parking spots along Hermann Park Drive. These free parking options ensure that visitors can spend their time at the museum without worrying about parking fees.
- By public transportation
Houston’s METRORail is another convenient option for reaching the museum. The Red Line, which runs between the Northline Transit Center and the Fannin South Transit Center, has a stop at the Hermann Park/Rice University Station. From there, it’s just a short walk to the museum.
Alternatively, several METRO bus routes, such as routes 56 and 84, also stop near the museum.
- By bike
If you prefer to bike, the museum is easily accessible through Houston’s extensive network of bike lanes and trails. Hermann Park features several bike racks near the museum’s entrance for safe and convenient bike storage.
Additionally, the Houston BCycle bike-sharing program has a station near the museum, making it simple to rent a bike for your visit.
A visit to the Houston Museum of Natural Science is a memorable experience, offering a wealth of knowledge and unique exhibits for guests to explore. With convenient access, parking, and dining options, a trip to HMNS is enjoyable for all ages.