May 26, 2023

Explore the Mysteries: Houston Museum of Natural Science

Discover the wonders of Houston Museum of Natural Science with our complete newbie guide. Don't miss out on this amazing…

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Welcome to the Houston Museum of Natural Science, where science and natural wonders come together for an unforgettable experience.

As newbies to this museum, we understand that planning a visit can be overwhelming, which is why we have created this complete newbie guide to help you navigate through all the exciting exhibits and activities.

From prehistoric fossils to outer space exploration, the Houston Museum of Natural Science has something for everyone. With multiple floors filled with interactive exhibits, stunning collections, and live demonstrations, it’s easy to get lost in all the excitement.

But don’t worry; we have got you covered with our insider tips and tricks on how to make the most out of your visit. So buckle up and get ready for an adventure like no other!

Planning Your Visit to the Houston Museum of Natural Science

So, you’re planning your visit to the Houston Museum of Natural Science and want to make the most of it. Well, let me tell you that the visitor experience here is top-notch!

The museum staff is friendly and helpful, making sure that everyone has a great time while learning about science and nature. To avoid any hassle, I highly recommend planning ahead by checking their website for crowd management updates.

You can also book guided tours in advance to ensure that you don’t miss out on any of the interactive exhibits. Speaking of which, there are tons of them! From dinosaur fossils to space exploration displays, there’s something for everyone at this museum.

So, go ahead and plan your visit today!

Ticket Options and Purchasing

Explore the different ticket options available and purchase them with ease. The Houston Museum of Natural Science offers various types of tickets to cater to everyone’s needs.

Here are some of the options you can choose from:

  • General Admission: This option gives you access to all permanent exhibits, including the Burke Baker Planetarium, Cockrell Butterfly Center, and Wortham Giant Screen Theatre.
  • Special Exhibit Admission: If you wish to see a particular exhibit, this ticket is for you. It grants entry to both permanent and temporary exhibitions.
  • Group Rates: If you’re visiting with a large group, purchasing tickets together could save you money. You need at least 20 people in your party to qualify for this discounted rate.
  • Membership Discounts: Members receive exclusive discounts on various products and services offered by the museum.

Purchasing your tickets online is quick and convenient as it saves time and allows you to skip long lines at the entrance. You can also print your tickets or have them scanned directly from your mobile device upon arrival.

Make sure to check their website for any promotions or discounts before making your purchase!

Museum Hours and Availability

You’ll be happy to know that the Houston Museum of Natural Science is open every day of the week, including weekends and holidays. Their regular hours are from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, but they sometimes extend their closing time during special events or exhibitions.

However, please note that there are occasional museum closures for maintenance purposes or private events, so it’s best to check their website or call ahead before your visit.

Speaking of holiday hours, the museum usually operates on a regular schedule during most holidays such as Labor Day and Memorial Day. But they do have modified hours on Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day when they close early at 3:00 pm. On top of that, keep an eye out for any upcoming special exhibits which may have different hours or require separate ticket purchases.

Lastly, if you’re looking for admission discounts, check out their website as they often offer promotions like Free Thursdays where general admission is free after 2:00 pm.

Getting to the Museum

Navigating to this cultural treasure is like embarking on an exhilarating adventure through the winding roads and bustling streets of the city. But don’t worry, we’ve got you covered with multiple transportation options to choose from.

Here are some ways to get to the Houston Museum of Natural Science:

  1. Parking options: If you plan on driving, there are several parking options available at the museum itself, including a garage and surface lots. However, be aware that parking can fill up quickly during peak hours.
  2. Public transportation: The Houston Museum of Natural Science is conveniently located near multiple Metro bus stops and rail lines. Check out their website for route information and schedules.
  3. Ride sharing services: Companies such as Uber and Lyft also provide quick and easy access to the museum with drop-off points right in front of the entrance.
  4. Walking directions: For those who prefer a more active approach, walking directions from nearby attractions such as Hermann Park or Rice University are readily available online.

No matter how you choose to get there, we guarantee that your journey will be worth it once you step inside this fascinating world-class museum!

Museum Layout and Floor Plan

Take a peek at the museum’s layout to get a better understanding of what you’ll experience during your visit.

The Houston Museum of Natural Science is organized into several main exhibit halls, each featuring different themes and topics. These include the Cockrell Butterfly Center, which houses over 60 species of live butterflies; the Morian Hall of Paleontology, which showcases fossils and replicas of prehistoric creatures; and the Wiess Energy Hall, which explores energy sources and conservation methods.

Additionally, there are interactive displays throughout the museum that allow visitors to engage with science in a hands-on way.

If you want to learn even more about specific exhibits or areas within the museum, guided tours are available for an additional fee. These tours offer an in-depth look at certain collections or themes within the museum, led by knowledgeable guides who can answer questions and provide insider information.

If you prefer to explore on your own but still want some guidance, audio guides are also available for rent that provide commentary on various exhibits as you move through them.

Overall, whether you’re interested in dinosaurs or gems or space exploration (or all three!), there’s something for everyone at the Houston Museum of Natural Science.

The Morian Hall of Paleontology

Get up close and personal with prehistoric creatures in the Morian Hall of Paleontology – you’ll feel like you’re walking among giants!

This exhibit is one of the most popular at the Houston Museum of Natural Science, featuring an impressive collection of dinosaur fossils and other paleontological specimens.

As we walked through the hall, we couldn’t help but marvel at the diversity of life that once roamed our planet.

In addition to showcasing a variety of fossilized creatures from different geological periods, the Morian Hall also provides visitors with a glimpse into their evolutionary history.

The exhibit highlights how these ancient animals adapted to changing environments over millions of years, providing insight into the complex processes that shaped life on Earth.

We were particularly impressed by the intricate fossil preparation techniques used in creating these displays – it truly felt like an art form!

The Cullen Hall of Gems and Minerals

You’re in for a real treat as you explore the Cullen Hall of Gems and Minerals – it’s like finding a diamond in the rough! This exhibit showcases an impressive collection of gemstone varieties and mineral formations that will leave you awestruck. The exhibit design is well-thought-out, with interactive displays that make learning about geology fun and engaging.

As you walk through the exhibit, you’ll encounter a variety of gemstones such as diamonds, rubies, sapphires, emeralds, and topaz. The three-column table below gives examples of some other gemstones found in this hall along with their chemical compositions and colors. You’ll also learn how minerals form and what factors affect their formation. One interesting display shows how heat and pressure can transform graphite into diamonds. Overall, the Cullen Hall of Gems and Minerals is an educational experience that will leave you feeling enriched with knowledge about geology.

Gemstone VarietyChemical CompositionColor
AmethystSiO2 (Silicon Dioxide)Purple
AquamarineBe3Al2Si6O18 (Beryllium Aluminum Silicate)Blue-green
GarnetX3Y2(SiO4)3 (X=Ca,Mg,Mn,Y=Al,Cr,Fe)Red

The Wiess Energy Hall

The Wiess Energy Hall is a must-see exhibit for anyone interested in the science behind energy and its impact on our world. This exhibit is one of the largest displays of energy-related exhibits in the world, covering everything from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources.

The hall features interactive exhibits that allow visitors to explore various aspects of energy production, distribution, and consumption. One of the highlights of the Wiess Energy Hall is its extensive collection of fossil displays. These fossils offer a glimpse into the history of life on Earth and how it has evolved over millions of years.

Additionally, visitors can learn about the history of the energy industry and how technological advancements have shaped it over time. With so much to see and learn, a visit to this exhibit is sure to be an educational experience for all ages.

The Cockrell Butterfly Center

Step into a world of vibrant colors and fluttering wings as you explore the Cockrell Butterfly Center. This exhibit is home to over 50 species of butterflies from around the world, including monarchs, swallowtails, and blue morphos.

As you walk through the lush Rainforest exhibit, you’ll be surrounded by hundreds of these beautiful creatures flying freely around you. Not only is the Cockrell Butterfly Center a stunning visual experience, it also showcases the ecological importance of butterflies.

Interactive exhibits allow visitors to learn about their life cycle, habitat requirements, and how they contribute to pollination. You can even witness live butterfly releases and see firsthand how they help maintain biodiversity in our ecosystems.

Don’t miss out on this unique opportunity to learn about one of nature’s most fascinating creatures!

The Burke Baker Planetarium

Moving on from the beautiful and colorful butterflies at the Cockrell Butterfly Center, let’s delve into the depths of space and explore the wonders of our universe at the Burke Baker Planetarium.

This state-of-the-art digital planetarium is a must-visit attraction at Houston Museum of Natural Science, offering an immersive experience that will leave you in awe.

The planetarium shows are not your typical movie screenings; they’re interactive experiences that take you on a journey through space and time. You’ll witness stunning visuals of celestial objects, learn about different constellations, and even travel to other planets!

The planetarium also has telescopes for visitors to explore the night sky with experts on hand to guide you. With digital projections and surround sound, this planetarium truly brings space to life.

Special Exhibitions and Events

You don’t want to miss out on the unique and exciting exhibits and events offered at this section. The Houston Museum of Natural Science has a wide range of special exhibitions that rotate throughout the year, giving visitors new experiences each time they visit. These special exhibitions showcase everything from ancient civilizations to space exploration, offering visitors an opportunity to expand their knowledge and engage with different concepts beyond what they may expect from a typical museum visit.

In addition to special exhibitions, the museum also hosts a variety of upcoming events that cater to all ages. From lectures by experts in their field to hands-on workshops for children, there’s always something new happening at the Houston Museum of Natural Science.

Don’t forget about the featured collections either! These interactive experiences allow visitors to get up close and personal with some of the museum’s most prized possessions while learning more about them through interactive displays.

With so much going on, it’s easy to see why the Houston Museum of Natural Science is one of the most popular destinations in Houston for locals and tourists alike.

Educational Programs and Activities

You’ll love exploring the educational programs and activities available here, with opportunities to learn and engage in unique experiences beyond what you might expect from a typical museum visit.

Here are four exciting examples of what you can find:

  1. Hands-on Workshops: Get your hands dirty and delve into science experiments with interactive workshops that allow visitors to explore topics like chemistry, physics, and biology.
  2. Interactive Exhibits: From dinosaur skeletons to live animal habitats, there are plenty of exhibits that will keep you engaged and learning through interactive displays.
  3. Outreach Programs: Take part in community outreach programs that bring science education directly to schools, libraries, and other locations throughout Houston.
  4. Virtual Learning: Even if you can’t make it to the museum in person, there are virtual learning options available so you can still experience some of the incredible educational resources on offer.

No matter what your age or interests may be, there’s something for everyone when it comes to educational programming at the Houston Museum of Natural Science!

Dining Options at the Museum

You’re in for a treat with the delicious dining options available here at the Houston Museum of Natural Science. The museum has two main dining areas – the McDonald’s and the Elements Café.

The McDonald’s offers classic fast food fare such as burgers, fries, and chicken nuggets at reasonable prices. On the other hand, if you’re looking for a more upscale dining experience, then Elements Café is your go-to spot. With its modern décor and spacious seating area, it offers an elegant ambiance that’s perfect for a romantic dinner or an intimate gathering with friends.

The menu options at Elements Café are diverse and cater to different dietary restrictions – vegan, gluten-free, vegetarian dishes are all available. The prices may be on the higher side compared to other museum cafes but they’re worth it considering how good the food is! For instance, their salmon poke bowl is priced at $16 which might seem steep but it’s definitely one of the best poke bowls I’ve ever tasted.

Overall, whether you want fast food or fine dining experience while visiting this fantastic museum, there’s something for everyone here!

Museum Gift Shop

Don’t forget to check out the gift shop, where you’ll find unique souvenirs and educational toys for all ages. The museum’s gift shop offers a wide range of items that are perfect for commemorating your visit or finding the perfect gift for a science-loving friend or family member.

Here are four items you won’t want to miss:

  1. Museum Exclusive Items: The gift shop stocks up on exclusive merchandise that can only be found at the Houston Museum of Natural Science. From t-shirts to tote bags, these items feature unique designs that showcase the museum’s exhibits and collections.
  2. Souvenirs and Memorabilia: Take home a piece of your favorite exhibit with souvenirs and memorabilia from the museum’s gift shop. Choose from dinosaur figurines, fossils, and even replicas of artifacts from ancient civilizations.
  3. Educational Toys: Give your child a fun way to learn about science with educational toys available in the gift shop. From chemistry sets to telescopes, these toys encourage exploration and discovery.
  4. Shopping Experience: The museum’s gift shop provides an enjoyable shopping experience with knowledgeable staff who can help you find the perfect item for yourself or as a gift. Plus, proceeds from sales support the museum’s mission of education and outreach programs in science education throughout Texas and beyond!

Accessibility and Accommodations

The accessibility and accommodations section provides important information for visitors with disabilities, including wheelchair accessibility and sensory-friendly options. The museum is committed to ensuring that all visitors feel welcome and comfortable during their visit.

Visitors who use wheelchairs can access all areas of the museum, including exhibits, restrooms, and the planetarium. Additionally, the museum offers sensory-friendly experiences for individuals with autism or other sensory sensitivities. These experiences include quieter environments with reduced lighting and sound levels.

Translation services are also available for non-native English speakers, including American Sign Language interpretation upon request. Service animals are allowed in all areas of the museum as well, but visitors should be aware that certain exhibits may not be suitable for them due to loud noises or flashing lights.

Photography and Filming Guidelines

If you’re planning on capturing memories of your museum visit, check out the photography and filming guidelines section for tips and rules to follow.

The Houston Museum of Natural Science encourages visitors to take photos throughout the exhibits, but there are some restrictions to keep in mind.

Flash photography is not permitted in certain areas due to preservation concerns, so be sure to check signage before snapping away.

Filming policies allow for personal use only, meaning that any footage captured cannot be used for commercial purposes without prior approval from the museum.

Additionally, tripods and other large equipment may only be used with special permission from the museum staff.

Don’t worry though, there are still plenty of photo opportunities available throughout the museum’s various exhibits!

From dinosaur skeletons to gemstones and beyond, there’s no shortage of fascinating subjects worth capturing during your visit.

Museum Policies and Rules

You may be wondering about the policies and rules in place at this fascinating establishment, but rest assured that these guidelines are in place to ensure the preservation of the exhibits for future generations to enjoy. It’s important to follow these rules not only for the sake of preserving the artifacts, but also for maintaining a respectful and safe environment for all visitors.

Here are some important policies and rules to keep in mind when visiting Houston Museum of Natural Science:

  • Prohibited items include weapons, outside food or drink, and pets (except service animals).
  • Visitors are expected to dress appropriately, with shirts and shoes required at all times.
  • Photography restrictions vary depending on the exhibit, so it’s best to check with museum staff before taking any pictures or videos.
  • Visitor conduct should always be respectful towards other guests and staff members, with no running or yelling allowed.
  • Any damage caused by a visitor will result in immediate removal from the museum premises.

Museum Membership Benefits

Now that we know the policies and rules of the Houston Museum of Natural Science, let’s talk about their membership benefits.

Membership perks include free admission to all permanent exhibits, discounted tickets to special exhibits and events, early access to select exhibitions, and discounts at the museum store and cafe. As someone who loves visiting museums frequently, I highly recommend considering a membership if you plan on visiting HMNS more than once or twice a year.

When it comes to cost comparison, purchasing a membership is definitely more cost-effective in the long run compared to buying individual admissions each visit. Plus, there are different levels of membership available depending on your needs and budget. And if you’re worried about committing for too long, renewal options are always available so you can decide whether or not to continue your membership after it expires.

Another great perk of being a member is exclusive events such as exhibit previews and behind-the-scenes tours – something non-members won’t have access to.

Overall, becoming a member at the Houston Museum of Natural Science can provide many benefits beyond just free admission!

Volunteering and Internship Opportunities

Looking to get involved with HMNS? Check out the volunteering and internship opportunities available.

Volunteering at the museum is a great way to gain experience in various fields such as education, hospitality, or science while also giving back to the community. The volunteer program offers different positions ranging from exhibit interpreters to special event assistants. Volunteers are asked to commit a minimum of 100 hours per year, which can be completed on weekdays or weekends depending on their availability.

Not only do volunteers have access to exclusive events and training programs, but they also receive discounts at the museum store and café.

For those looking for more formal skill development opportunities, HMNS offers internship programs that provide hands-on experience in departments such as collections management, marketing and public relations, or exhibit design. These internships are usually reserved for students who are pursuing degrees related to these fields but can also be open to anyone interested in gaining professional experience in a non-profit environment.

Interns work closely with staff members on specific projects that contribute directly to promoting science education and conservation efforts within the museum’s mission. By participating in these programs, interns not only enhance their resumes but also get a chance to make meaningful contributions towards scientific research and community outreach initiatives.

Supporting the Museum and its Mission

Get involved in preserving the wonders of our world by supporting the HMNS mission. There are several ways to become a vital part of an organization dedicated to protecting the beauty and mysteries of our planet.

One way is through donations. The museum accepts various types of donations ranging from one-time gifts to planned giving options that help support their research, exhibits, and educational programs.

Another way to support the HMNS is through volunteering. The museum offers a variety of volunteer opportunities for individuals interested in science education and outreach. From working with visitors in the exhibit halls to assisting behind-the-scenes with collections, volunteers play an important role in helping the museum achieve its goals.

Additionally, becoming a member or sponsor is another way to support the museum’s mission. Members enjoy exclusive benefits such as free admission, discounts on special events, and priority access to exhibits while sponsors provide crucial funding for special projects and initiatives that would not be possible without their support.

No matter how you choose to get involved, your contribution helps ensure that future generations can continue to learn about our planet’s natural history and appreciate its beauty.

Nearby Attractions and Activities

You can easily enhance your experience by exploring the various attractions and activities in the surrounding area of HMNS.

If you’re looking for outdoor activities, Memorial Park is just a few miles away from the Museum and offers over 1,500 acres of green space for hiking, biking, golfing, and more. Additionally, Hermann Park is located near the Museum as well and features picnic areas, a Japanese garden, pedal boats on McGovern Lake, and even a miniature train that takes visitors on a tour through the park.

If you’re interested in art museums or cultural institutions nearby, The Menil Collection is within walking distance of HMNS. This museum houses an extensive collection of modern art as well as antiquities from around the world.

For sports fans, NRG Stadium (home to NFL’s Houston Texans), Minute Maid Park (home to MLB’s Houston Astros), and Toyota Center (home to NBA’s Houston Rockets) are all just a short drive from HMNS.

And lastly, for those who love shopping districts with unique boutiques and restaurants, Rice Village is only about 5 miles away from the Museum and offers plenty of options to explore.

Tips for Visiting with Kids

If you’re bringing your little ones along for a fun and educational day, this section will give you some helpful tips to ensure they have a blast while exploring the wonders of HMNS.

First and foremost, be sure to check out the kid-friendly exhibits that are specifically designed with children in mind. From the interactive dinosaur exhibit to the hands-on butterfly garden, there’s something for every age group.

In addition to the exhibits, make sure to take advantage of all the interactive experiences available at HMNS. These range from virtual reality simulations to live animal encounters, and are a great way for kids to get up close and personal with science in action.

Don’t forget about the many educational resources offered by HMNS as well, such as activity guides and scavenger hunts that can help your child learn even more during their visit.

And finally, be sure to keep an eye out for family-friendly events happening throughout the year – these special programs often feature exciting activities like science experiments or behind-the-scenes tours that are perfect for kids of all ages!

Frequently Asked Questions

Let’s dive into some common questions visitors have about the HMNS experience.

First up, parking options. There are two main parking areas available for visitors – the museum garage and the Hermann Park lot. The museum garage is located directly next to the museum entrance and offers convenient access, but can fill up quickly on busy days. The Hermann Park lot is a bit further away, but offers more spaces and is often less crowded.

Moving onto museum exhibits, there are a wide variety of collections to explore at HMNS. From fossils and gems to space exploration and natural history, there truly is something for everyone.

Some of our most popular exhibits include the Morian Hall of Paleontology, Burke Baker Planetarium, and Cockrell Butterfly Center. And if you’re looking for a more in-depth experience, consider booking one of our guided tours with an expert educator who can provide additional insights and context on your favorite exhibits.

Don’t forget to stop by our gift shop on your way out to pick up some unique merchandise related to your favorite exhibitions!

Conclusion: Your Adventure Awaits at the Houston Museum of Natural Science

So now that all your questions have been answered, are you ready to embark on an adventure at the Houston Museum of Natural Science? We can’t wait to share with you some insider tips on how to make the most out of your visit.

Apart from visiting the must-see exhibits like the Hall of Paleontology and Hall of Ancient Egypt, there are also plenty of adventure activities waiting for you and your family.

One hidden gem that we highly recommend is the Burke Baker Planetarium. Here, you can immerse yourself in a stunning display of stars and galaxies through their state-of-the-art technology. Make sure to check out their show schedule beforehand so you don’t miss any exciting presentations.

And if you’re feeling more adventurous, take a stroll through their Cockrell Butterfly Center where you can get up close and personal with hundreds of fluttering butterflies!

With so much to explore, we guarantee that your day at the Houston Museum of Natural Science will be one for the books.


So, there you have it! Our complete newbie guide to the Houston Museum of Natural Science. This museum has something for everyone and is a must-visit destination when in Houston.

From the stunning gemstone collection to the awe-inspiring dinosaur exhibits, you’ll be transported into a world of wonder and excitement. And with so many ticket options available, there’s no excuse not to experience all that this incredible museum has to offer.

So, what’re you waiting for? Start planning your visit now and prepare to be amazed by the wonders of science and nature. Your adventure awaits at the Houston Museum of Natural Science!

Discover Space City is a Houston blog by Josh and Jaime, a married couple that loves to discover new things at home and around the world.