Families and family travelers alike will love the new Perot Museum of Nature and Science in Dallas.
The museum, which opened in December, boasts 11 different exhibit halls, including some that spotlight the science behind sports, being human, engineering and innovation and the expanding universe.
Also in the mix: the Moody Family Children’s Museum, in which kids ages 0-5 can dig for fossils with a team of junior paleontologists, explore a simulated forest, pretend to be a vendor or customer at a mock farmers market, and crawl on (and in some cases through) a replica of the Dallas skyline.
“[Our country is] 22nd in the world in math and science education so at the museum we’re really striving to offer something for learners of all ages,” says Nicole Small, who serves as CEO. “Kids learn by doing, and we’re trying to open their eyes to a variety of things.”
In the Lyda Hill Gems & Minerals Hall, for instance, one child recently was overheard describing a 5-foot-tall Grape Jelly Geode as “an enormous egg full of diamonds.”
In the Rees-Jones Foundation Dynamic Earth Hall, visitors can learn all about weather and Earth science; an earthquake exhibit enables visitors to feel what it’s like during temblors of different magnitudes, while another exhibit enables families to reach into a tube and feel the power of a tornado (funnels are common in Texas).
There’s even a three-dimensional flying simulator in the Rose Hall of Birds.
Overall, the museum’s most popular exhibit among family visitors is something in the Sports Hall called a “Running Wall.” The exhibit incorporates a running track and a life-size video wall to give visitors the opportunity to “race” a virtual cheetah, T-Rex or Dallas Cowboy.
Small says the exhibit usually inspires families to hold their own races—to see who is the fastest of the clan.
“It’s fun to watch families really get into it,” she says.
Like most new museums, the “Perot” (as it’s called colloquially) also offers daily family-friendly art programs, as well as educational opportunities for students pre-K through 12, (including early childhood development), as well as for their families and teachers.
If you’re planning a trip to the Dallas area, be sure to buy tickets ahead of time; demand in these first few months has been so high that the museum has experienced long lines and a handful of sellouts. Advance tickets are for timed entry at 30-minute intervals starting at 10 a.m. For more information, click here.