What Is the Dallas Museum of Nature and Science?

C. Mitchell

The Dallas Museum of Nature and Science is a collection of natural history and hands-on science exhibits in downtown Dallas, Texas. It is made up of three independent buildings in the Fair Park district of Dallas and is in many ways designed as an all-in-one destination for families and school groups. Each of the buildings hosts exhibits and hands-on activities that are particularly appealing for young people. The museum covers everything from the formation of the earth to the outer reaches of the galaxy, and all creatures and scientific principles in between.

The Dallas Museum of Nature and Science is located in downtown Dallas, Texas,.
The Dallas Museum of Nature and Science is located in downtown Dallas, Texas,.

At one point, each of the buildings held an independent museum. The three joined forces in 2006, however, and are now collectively referred to as the Dallas Museum of Nature and Science. Each building still maintains many of the characteristics of its former independence, but operates under unified leadership, with shared staff and a single admission ticket.

The former Dallas Museum of Natural History is widely seen as the anchor of the new Dallas Museum of Nature and Science. This space, known now as The Nature Building, contains an array of displays on natural history, including life-size dinosaur reproductions and numerous artifacts on animal life throughout the world. It is home to galleries documenting life on Earth from prehistoric times all the up to the present through a mix of three-dimensional displays and interactive learning stations.

Next door is the Science Building, formerly the Dallas Health Museum. Here, visitors can explore a range of permanent hands-on exhibits on many aspects of science, from astronomy and chemistry to physics and the kinetics of motion. Curators in this museum are usually well-versed in basic scientific principles, and are on hand to help children and their families and teachers understand the theories at play in each exhibit. The Science Building is one of the most interactive parts of the Dallas Museum of Nature and Science, as nearly all displays, whether permanent or temporary, are designed to be hands-on and exploratory.

Also housed in the Science Building is an IMAX® theater, a movie theater supporting a screen spanning several stories in height that is used to show nature documentaries, science films, and other educational features. The Dallas Museum of Nature and Science is one of many American museums to host this sort of film capability. Movies shown in this theater draw visitors to the museum from throughout the Dallas region.

The Science Building is also home to many of the collections from the former Dallas Children’s Place, a museum that focused on early childhood education and development while providing stimulating activities for young children and their families. When the Dallas Museum of Nature and Science assumed the Children’s Place, that facility essentially merged into the Science Building. It is no longer its own space, but rather is a collection of permanent galleries adjacent to the science exhibits. The condensation makes for a great combination of museums and kids, as there is a lot to do and see for everyone in the family.

Adjacent to the Science Building is the Planetarium Building, the third and final building of the Dallas Museum of Nature and Science. The planetarium is active, meaning that astronomers work there year-round to chart and study the stars. Most parts of the facility are open to the public, and visitors are encouraged to learn about stargazing through a host of exhibits and hands-on activities. Organized groups can also tour the planetarium and participate in sessions led by working astronomers.

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