Pros: Top class educational exhibits, presentation, interactive features, high-tech features, architecture, clean, modern, hybrid parking.
Cons: Web site, online purchases treacherous, currently too busy, parking not free.
The Perot Museum of Nature and Science is a new museum in Dallas, Texas, that was founded with the help of a donation of 50 million dollars from the five children of the Dallas billionaire (and former Presidential candidate) Ross Perot. Basically what they did was that they built a new building downtown Dallas and closed the main building of the old Museum of Nature & Science at the Fair Park in Dallas. They moved most of the stuff into the new building, and they also acquired a lot of new stuff. The end result is a Nature and Science museum that is much better than the old one. In fact Dallas finally has a Nature and Science museum worthy of a city of this size. Among the three Texas cities Dallas, Houston, and Fort Worth, Dallas used to have the worst Nature and Science museum, now it has the best.
Overview of the Perot Museum of Nature and Science
The Perot Museum opened on December 14 2012 (one month ago). Well technically the Perot Museum is a continuation of the old Museum of Nature & Science that was formed 2006. However, it is with the new building that opened on December 14 2012 that the new museum became the Perot Museum of Nature and Science.
The new building is architecturally a piece of modern art. It has an odd shape like an inverted semi pyramid, almost cubical but not quite, with an outside glass tube with an escalator. The color is grey but the texture is peculiar and looking almost like a cubical wasp nest. At the base there is another modern looking building. The architecture of the Perot Museum of Nature and Science is definitely quite unique, artistic, ultra modern, and it gives the museum a special look and ambiance that adds to the experience and to the look of downtown Dallas. The fact that it is located downtown Dallas and not at the Fair Park, and next to the Dallas World Aquarium and other Dallas attractions, makes it more accessible to visitors.
The museum has four floors, or three and a half floors, or five floors, or maybe six floors, well it depends on how you count. At the bottom, or the basement, there is a children’s museum, a small sports exhibit, and an exhibit showcasing the history and the building of the museum itself. At the bottom floor there are also interactive walls, and musical stairs, and bathrooms. The floor above, the entry floor, includes the lobby, the café, the 3D movie theater, information and ticket booths, etc.
Next follows the exhibit floors starting with a floor featuring the “Discovering Life” and the “Being Human” exhibits. The next floor features some quite impressive exhibits including the "Texas Instruments Engineering and Innovation", "The Rees-Jones Foundation Dynamic Earth Hall", “Tom Hunt Energy”, and “Lyda Hill Gems and Minerals” exhibits. The floor above that is even more impressive featuring two large impressive exhibits including the “Expanding Universe” exhibit and the “T. Boone Pickens Life Then and Now” exhibit. There is one more floor featuring the Rose Hall of Birds, which is easy to miss but it is quite impressive as well.
There are two parking lots. One parking lot is located next to the museum and is reserved for the handicapped and for hybrid cars. The other is across the street, sort of behind the museum if you coming from the north. Unlike how it was at Fair Park, parking is not free.
Admission is $15.00 for adults and $10.00 for kids and the 3D movie is $5.00 to $8.00 depending on movie. Parking is four dollars. You can join the museum and get free entry and discounts on the movie tickets. Family membership is $100.00 and includes guest vouchers. The museum is open 10:00AM to 5:00PM Monday through Saturday and Noon until 5:00PM on Sunday.
This is the address of the Perot Museum of Nature and Science:
2201 N. Field Street
Dallas, Texas 75201-1704
The Perot Museum of Nature and Science Web Site
The Perot Museum of Nature and Science is currently so busy that if you just show up at the museum you may not get a ticket. Therefore you are encouraged to buy a ticket online. That is what we did twice. However, this is not as smooth as it should be. After you have purchased the ticket you need to print it right away, so make sure you have access to a printer. You also need to create an account. You will be sent a confirmation email but it cannot be used as a ticket. There is a link in the email through which you can access your account but this link is broken. Basically if you don’t print the ticket right away you are screwed. Well, it appears that they are willing to work with you at the ticket booth if you bring in your email. In any case the way this works is abysmal.
There are other things I don’t like about the web site as well. It is a pretty web site but not very functional. It could have more content and it has functionality issues. The web site gets my thumbs down.
This is their web site
Experiencing the Perot Museum of Nature and Science
As we entered the museum we were impressed by the interior design, the modern architecture, the glass encased escalator that was partially outside, etc. We started on the fourth floor and as we entered we saw a big room full of large dinosaur skeletons, Tyrannosaurus Rex, Alamosaurus (100+ feet), a Ceratopsid (Torosaurus), Deinonychus, Troodon, Mososaurus, Edmontosaurus, as well as small ones like Archaeopteryx and Dallasaurus. There was a huge 40 feet Quetzalcoatlus hanging in the ceiling. The room was also full of other fossils including a prehistoric giant turtle, a mammoth, giant crocodiles, lots of dinosaur foot prints and much more. This was the “T. Boone Pickens Life Then and Now” exhibit.
However, what was impressive was not that they expanded on the collection of dinosaur fossils and models but the way it was organized. It was well organized, lights, interactive features, there were explanatory signs, and TV monitors everywhere that helped kids understand what they were looking at. There were comparisons between the skeletons of bird like dinosaurs and birds and evolutionary trees with skeletons. The movies also explained what paleontologists do and how the artifacts you were looking at were found, dug out, and brought to this place. This was much better than the old museum and much better done than at most large natural history and science museums around the country (that I’ve been to).
I was impressed by the “Expanding Universe” exhibit with its dynamic 3D Big Bang display, the various movies depicting the planets, the history of the Universe, the explanation of the different kinds of stars, and how they are born and how they end up. There were several hundred impressive interactive displays utilizing the latest sensor and computer technology. One of them, in the Rose Hall of Birds, allowed you to control the flight of a bird simply by moving in front of a screen. As you moved your upper body you flew through landscapes with mountains. Maybe this could turn out to be the games of the future, no remote controls at all, just sensor sensing your motion. One interactive ride, the “Shale Voyager”, a ride that takes you into an oil borehole (virtually) seemed to be really cool but it was broken. Overall the interactive features were modern, advanced and more fun than what is typical at science museums.
I was also quite impressed by the “Lyda Hill Gems and Minerals” exhibit. It featured lots of different kinds of minerals and crystals including corundum (rubys), sapphires, topaz, emeralds, gold (a 52 pound solid gold nugget), a ten foot tall Geode with thousands of large Amethyst crystals, gem quality opals big as footballs, and thousands of others crystals. It must have been worth millions of dollars.
Another thing I appreciated is that they put some effort into explaining evolution. Despite being a core concept in so many disciplines in modern science, including biology, it is so misunderstood among the general public, which is something religious zealots have taken advantage of in their attacks and distortions of science. We need better understanding of science and less superstition. A nature and science museum that not just displays artifacts but makes an effort to explain concepts is doing the world a favor.
We ended our first visit to the Perot Museum of Nature and Science by watching a 3D movie called Sea Monsters. The 3D effects were extremely realistic. 3D has come a long way the last couple of years. I liked the fact that you could bring in snacks and drinks into the theater. It was like a regular 3D movie theater in many respects.
The café was also nice. It had the typical fast food items, pizza, Mexican, burgers, hot dogs, sandwiches, etc, but it also had a salad buffet, and lots of healthy items. No clam chowder though. The café was OK but it does not beat the one at the New England Aquarium. The restrooms were clean, modern and well kept.
The Perot Museum of Nature and Science may not be America’s biggest nature and science museum. The Field museum in Chicago is bigger and has more stuff, and so does the museums in New York and Washington DC. However, your expectations should be realistic. This is a new museum in Dallas. The Perot Museum of Nature and Science excel with respect to presentation, organization, education, and with its high-tech interactive displays. I can also get great parking using my Toyota Prius. Finally Dallas has a nature and science museum it can be proud of and I highly recommend it.
Finally I would like to thank Di (SurgRN911) lead in travel for adding this to epinions.