DALLAS – When you drive through Dallas, there’s a Texas treasure that’s pretty hard to miss. You can see it from the Woodall Rodgers Freeway, and it’s filled with all sorts of amazing stuff. We urge you to go inside-just make sure you have your walking shoes.
The Perot Museum of Nature and Science is truly an incredible museum for all ages.
“It’s a gorgeous museum and not only for what is inside, but architecturally we get recognized around the world because it’s a very unique space,” said Krista Villarreal- Moore, Director of PR and Communications at the Perot Museum.
Villarreal-Moore is a former TV meteorologist who kept her calling for science and nature alive by taking a job at the museum dedicated to it.
“A lot of people think, ‘Oh, science isn’t for me,’ but if you’re curious about your world, that’s science,” Villarreal-Moore said.
The massive complex is a combination of three, long-time Dallas museums in one. The Dallas Museum of Natural History, The Science Place, and The Dallas Children’s Museum. The three united in 2012 to form the Perot Museum of Nature and Science. With five levels and 180,000 square feet, this museum takes a big bite out of all sorts of subjects in a fun, interactive and inspiring way.
“Our mission is to inspire minds through nature and science, but the reason that’s important is that STEM Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math careers are going to be central to, not just our region’s economy, but the nation’s economy going forward,” Villarreal-Moore said.
The learning starts as soon as you walk in and head up an escalator.
“So this is the ride up to the T. rex (Tyrannosaurus rex). We have a new T. rex that greets visitors at the top. His name is Stan,” Villarreal-Moore said. “We did not name him, but he came to us that way. He’s the second most complete T. rex ever discovered. It’s a neat way for visitors to get their sort of first dinosaur experience as they’re coming up our escalator, which sticks on the outside of the building.
He’s friendly though, harmless. He’s from South Dakota. Lots of dinosaurs, especially T. rex were found there in the Badlands.”
Don’t expect just dinosaurs. The museum has it all. We rocked out in a gallery that knocks out two birds with one stone, telling the history of our Earth while showcasing some amazing beauty.
“This is our gems and minerals hall and I’ve got to show you what we call our grape jelly geode.” Villarreal-Moore said. “You’ll see why. It’s a 2000 pound amethyst. This was the first piece installed in the Perot Museum because we wanted to make sure that we got it installed and that it would be safe, as everything else was starting to move in. What I find fascinating about this is that this is how it was naturally found. This is just nature. A lot of times you’ll find minerals in the ground, but when you see it in a piece of jewelry, it’s because it’s been cut and polished and faceted, but no, this is just nature’s beauty.”
You’ll also find a new, birthstone exhibit inside the museum and a dazzling display of gems from around the world.
But learning about our bodies and what it takes to make us tick is what we found totally mind blowing.
“This is a real, human brain,” Villarreal-Moore said. “This is one of the only places in the world to see a brain still connected to its spinal column with the nerve ending displayed this way. It’s so interesting t
o be able to see it up close, because we all see photos and pictures, but to be able to see the intricacies of what’s making us all tick, I think is just a really unusual, unique experience.”
After learning about the human body, Villarreal-Moore takes us to Dinosaur Hall. Not only will you see real dinosaur bones found in Texas, but you get to see an actual paleontologist in their element-finding fossils.
Dr. Ron Tykoski knew from an early age that he wanted to work with dinosaurs and it all started when his parents took him to museum. Imagine that!
“I remember when I was five years old, they said, ‘Maybe someday if you do really well in school, you can come and work here and work on the dinosaurs’ I said, “Okay,” Tykoski said.
Today he’s living the dream, a rock star when it comes to digging into rocks. Folks get to watch him work all day.
“You can watch, in real time, our paleontologists and volunteers doing their research so they may be right in front of your eyes discovering a new species of dinosaur because our paleontologists have thus far identified several new species that were previously not known to science,” Villarreal-Moore said.
“We really don’t know what comes out of these rocks any given moment, any given day, something can appear out of here. You can be the first human being to ever see some element that appears out of one of these rocks,” Tykoski said.
Being able to see the exhibits and exhilarating history of the Perot Museum of Nature and Science is the perfect family outing, but getting to see actual science is a bonus big enough to make this wonderful world of all things wondrous well worth a stop.
“I’m pushing science and knowledge forward,” Tykoski said. “What greater contribution is there than that?”