Houston Museum of Natural Science

The Houston Museum of Natural Science (abbreviated as HMNS) is a natural history museum located on the northern border of Hermann Park in Houston, Texas, United States. The museum was founded in 1909 by the Houston Museum and Science Society, an organization whose goal was to provide Houstonians with a free institution focused on education and science. More than two million visitors visit the museum every year. The museum complex consists of a central facility with four floors of nature rooms and exhibits, the Burke Baker Planetarium, the Cockrell Butterfly Center, and the Wortham Giant Screen Theater (formerly the Wortham IMAX Theater). The museum is one of the most popular in the United States and is located directly below the American Museum of Natural History in New York and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, as well as the M. The H. de Young Memorial Museum in San Francisco has the most visitors among non-Smithsonian museums. Much of the museum’s popularity is due to a large number of special or guest exhibitions.

The original museum organization was called the Houston Museum and Scientific Society, Inc. and was founded in 1909. The core collection of the museum was acquired between 1914 and 1930. This included the purchase of a natural history collection compiled by Henry Philemon Attwater and a gift from collector John Milsaps, the latter of which formed the core of the gem and mineral collection of the museum. The collection was first housed in the Houston City Auditorium, then for seven years at the Central Library, and then in 1929 at the Houston Zoo. The museum’s now extensive educational programs began in 1947, hosting 12,000 children in its second year. The museum was officially named the Houston Museum of Natural Science in 1960. Construction on the current Hermann Park building began in 1964 and was completed in 1969. In the 1980s, the museum’s permanent exhibits included a dinosaur exhibit, a space museum, and geology, biology, petroleum science, technology, and geography exhibits. In 1988, the Challenger Learning Center was opened in memory of the Challenger crew lost on the space shuttle’s tenth mission. The center aims to teach visitors about space exploration. The Wortham IMAX Theater and George Observatory, located elsewhere, opened in 1989. In 1990, the museum had more than a million visitors. HMNS trustees recognized that the increased number of participants required new state-of-the-art facilities, additional space and renovation of existing exhibits. Between 1991 and 1994, several exhibition halls were renovated and an addition to the Sterling Research Hall was completed. The Cockrell Butterfly Center and Brown Hall of Entomology opened in July 1994. Don’t forget to check out this place in Houston too.

In March 2007, the museum opened the HMNS Woodlands X cry station located in the Woodlands Mall. The facility featured an interactive fossil pit where children could dig for Triceratops, various live exhibits, fossils and minerals. The Woodlands location closed on September 7, 2009, less than a month before HMNS opened a satellite museum in Sugar Land, Texas. In 2009, HMNS celebrated its 100th anniversary. This year, the museum offered many family programs, lectures, free events and children’s classes as part of the “Funtime” celebration. On October 3, 2009, HMNS opened its satellite museum in Telfair, Sugar Land. The building and surrounding land that became HMNS Sugar Land was once part of the Central Unit, a prison for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice that had been vacant for decades. In March 2012, the Wortham IMAX Theater was converted from 70mm film to 3D digital and renamed the Wortham Giant Screen Theatre. In June 2012, HMNS opened a new 230,000-square-foot wing to its paleontology hall, more than doubling the size of the original museum. Paleoartist Julius Csotonyi created fourteen murals for the new paleontology hall based on conceptual drawings by HMNS Curator of Paleontology Robert Bakker. The Moriana Hall of Paleontology contains more than 60 large skeletons, including three Tyrannosaurus rex and three large Quetzalcoatlus.

The Houston Museum of Natural Science features the Burke Baker Planetarium, the Wortham Giant Screen Theater, the Cockrell Butterfly Center, and more than a dozen permanent exhibits that explore astronomy, space, science, Native Americans, paleontology, energy, chemistry, gems and minerals, shellfish, Texas Wildlife and more. In addition, the museum often has changing exhibitions on different subjects. The museum also has two satellite facilities: the George Observatory in Fort Bend County, home to one of the nation’s largest telescopes open to the public, and the Houston Museum of Natural Science in Sugar Land, home to exhibits on dinosaurs, mineralogy and exotic live insects and more. If you are ever in need of home renovation or repair, click here.


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