Craving Dole Whip

Disney & museum obsessed, homeschooling mom of 3, parenting to focus on experiences, not possessions. Sharing Disney tips, educational adventures and a few reviews. Constantly craving Dole Whip.


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The Mutter Museum in Philadelphia–Experience Adventure 37 of 100

The Mutter Museum of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia delivers one of the most interesting, thought-provoking and unusual museum experiences in the United States.  Housed within a beautiful, national historic landmark, the Mutter Museum showcases the evolution of medical practices and the historical significance of techniques and practitioner procedures.

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It offers a wildly odd, yet universally intriguing, collection of antique medical devices, wax models, vintage drawings, anatomical and pathological specimens, and human oddities–all respectfully and beautifully preserved and displayed.  **No photography is allowed in the main galleries.

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Visitors walk through a nineteenth-century, Victorian collection-like setting full of mysterious medical specimens and the history of diagnosis and treatment of human diseases.

Things you do not want to miss during your visit:

The Hyrtl Skull collection offers viewers the opportunity to stand before 139 human skull specimens, all labeled with the individual’s name, origin, age and means of death (if available).  It is an interesting and moving experience.

My daughter’s favorite exhibit at the Mutter presents several slides with specimens of Albert Einstein’s brain, which can only be viewed in two places in the entire world–one being the Mutter Museum.

2,374 foreign objects that were removed from human airways by Dr. Chevalier Jackson, an otolaryngologist, are on display in large, pull-out drawers.  People swallow weird stuff!

A 360-degree view is available of a life-size cast of the bodies of conjoined twins, Chang and Eng Bunker.

The peaceful Benjamin Rush Medicinal Plant Garden features a beautiful collection of plants, flowers and berries, as well as outdoor seating in a relaxing courtyard.

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We visited the Mutter Museum in March of 2018, and found ourselves completely fascinated by the current, but not permanent, exhibit called Woven Strands.  This unusual display invites visitors to enter the eccentric world of the art of human hair work, something new and foreign to me and my daughters.

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The Mutter Museum’s collection offers visitors a chance to view intimate medical curiosities, while encouraging an understanding of the human experience.

It is certainly one of our favorites.

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The Mutter Museum is located at 19 S. 22nd Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 19103.  Fore more information, visit www.muttermuseum.org or call 215-560-8564.

The museum is open daily from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm.

**Save $2 on tickets for visits on Monday and Tuesday, if you buy tickets online in advance.

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Other things to do in Philadelphia:

The Barnes Foundation

The Rodin Museum

For more science related educational adventures, we recommend:

The Museum of Science and History in Jacksonville, Florida

The Houston Museum of Natural Science

 

 

 

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Fossil Pit Hunt At Montour Preserve–Experience Adventure 34 of 100

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After a super fun morning enjoying all things maple-y sweet at the FREE maple sugaring family program at the beautiful Montour Preserve, my family and I headed over to the fossil pit.

 

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Visitors must park their car and then walk down this beautiful path that leads to the fossil pit.

 

I decided to break our trip to the Montour Preserve into two different adventures because both could easily stand alone and fill a family day full of fun and excitement.

So, for our 34th experience, we spent several hours searching for fossils at the Montour Preserve Fossil Pit.

 

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The Montour Preserve Fossil Pit

 

This hillside fossil “pit” found on the grounds of the Montour Preserve showcases exposed shale and siltstone of the Mahantango Formation.  The fossils found here lived in the Kaskaskia Sea, a warm, shallow body of water, during the Devonian Period, between 400 and 350 million years ago.

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Most fossils found in the pit need to be unearthed by gentle taps with a geologist’s hammer.  **Bring safety goggles.  My daughters also enjoyed looking for treasures on the surface, which resulted in a few finds.

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Brachiopods make up two-thirds of all fossils found at the pit.  The Montour Preserve provides a free fossil hunter’s field guide if you stop at the visitor’s and education center first.  **Use the bathroom there before you head to the pit.

Cehpalopods, corals, gastropods, pelecypods, brachiopods and trilobites are all found on the guide, which features detailed drawings to help with identification.  **The guide is very helpful, but we never found the elusive trilobite.  (BUMMER!)

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We also read the very informative sign which marks the entrance to the pit.

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**There is little to no shade at the pit (no trees and no man made structures.  There are also no restroom facilities at the pit–you must use the restroom found in the visitor’s center.

We recommend wearing closed-toe shoes, with a thick sole, preferably rubber boots.  The ground is made of shale, sharp edges and rocks.

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Helpful items for your fossil hunt:

Sunscreen, lots of water, small hammer, goggles for eye protection, a small, soft brush, bucket, containers and baggies, newspaper or foil to wrap treasures, closed-toe shoes, long pants so you can sit down on the rocky shale semi-comfortably and the field guide–study it before you start hunting.  🙂

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The fossil pit can be found on the grounds of the Montour Preserve located at 374 Preserve Road, Danville, Pennsylvania, 17821.  For more information, visit www.MontourPreserve.org or call 507-336-2060.

To read about our morning adventures at the Montour Preserve maple program, read this!

Are you fossil fanatic like me?  Here is a post all about my favorite spot to find fossilized shark’s teeth!  Read it here!


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The State Museum of Pennsylvania–Experience Adventure 22 of 100

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On Valentine’s Day of 2018, and for our 22nd of 100 adventures, my daughters and I spent the day exploring the remarkable State Museum of Pennsylvania.  Established in 1905 and adjacent to the breathtaking and beautiful State Capitol Building, the historical institution is the commonwealth’s official museum located in the state’s important capital city of Harrisburg.

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The museum takes visitors through a full range of fascinating regional history, focusing on Pennsylvania’s multi-faceted culture and prominent figures, beginning with prehistoric geology and archeological exhibits and continuing to present time pop culture influences and art showcases.

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Four impressive exhibit floors and a full-dome planetarium chronologically organize and display over 3 million items in the museum’s expansive collection.

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Interesting and permanent exhibit halls include Life Through Time, Geology, Mammals, Ecology, a Memorial Hall dedicated to William Penn, and Objects of Valor, which features Civil War artifacts.

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**Fun Fact:  Pennsylvania was named by King Charles II, who took the Penn family name and combined it with the Latin word “silva”, which means “woods”.

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The Memorial Hall features an enormous mural, state map, and a monumental bronze statue of William Penn, the founder of Pennsylvania.

**Fun Fact:  William Penn’s forward-thinking policy of religious tolerance and acceptance created a diverse religious and ethnic culture in the state of Pennsylvania.

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My daughters and I spent most of our time in the noteworthy exhibits of Pennsylvania Icons, Village Square, the Anthropology and Archeology Gallery, and the Transportation and Industry hall.

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**Fun Fact:  Pennsylvania is the nation’s #1 producer of mushrooms, #2 producer of apples and ranks 3rd for eggs and Christmas trees!

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**Fun Fact:  Pennsylvania produces 80% of the nation’s hard pretzels.

More than 350 unusual and thought-provoking items fill the Pennsylvania Icons hall, where visitors learn about the national influence of Pennsylvania’s unique places, people and products.

 

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**Fun Fact:  20% of the United States’ production of craft beer is produced in Pennsylvania.

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True-to-life historical facades, buildings, a summer kitchen and a general store represent a 19th century Pennsylvania town in the walk-through Village Square Hall.  I wanted to find some hands-on activities, but unfortunately, this is a purely visual exhibit.

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The creation and historical significance of the Pennsylvania Turnpike is thoroughly explored within the Transportation and Industry hall.  Focusing on the tools, vehicles and the history of innovative machines, the exhibit gives viewers a fantastic and engaging glimpse into transportation industry and commerce.

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**Fun Fact:  In October of 1940, the nations first modern superhighway birthed a new interest in cross-country travel for post-WWII Americans.  That superhighway is the Pennsylvania Turnpike.

Native American artifacts and archeological methods are explored in great detail inside the Anthropology and Archeology Gallery.

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**Fun Fact:  The Meadowcroft Rockshelter, located near Avella in Washington County, Pennsylvania, boasts the earliest signs of human habitation in North America and has been continually inhabited for the past 19,000 years.

As a lover of the visual arts, we greatly enjoyed the engaging, rotating art exhibit, which featured unique art pieces bought and acquired by the museum through the years.

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Overall, we found The State Museum of Pennsylvania educational, interesting and thought-provoking.  It was clean, well organized, thorough, and visually stimulating.  Of course, I prefer a hands-on approach and appreciate exhibits with interactive components, but the museum’s extensive collection makes up for its lack of experiential learning.  My daughters and I left with massive amounts of new and relevant Pennsylvania state knowledge and a greater historical understanding of our nation.

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Kudos to The State Museum of Pennsylvania.  As a museum-obsessed, homeschooling mom, I give it a “B++”!

Hours of operation:  Wed-Sat 9:00 am to 5:00 pm and Sunday 12:00 to 5:00 pm.

Please note:  The museum is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.

Adults:  $7.00

Children ages 1-11 years:  $5.00

The museum is FREE for military members and military families with ID’s.  THANK YOU!

The State Museum of Pennsylvania is located at 300 North Street, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, 17120.  For more information, call 717-787-4980 or visit www.statemuseumpa.org.

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For some other fun and educational adventures in the great state of Pennsylvania, check out:

The Turkey Hill Experience

George’s Furniture

The Pennsylvania Farm Show

The National Watch and Clock Museum

The Lancaster Central Market

 

 

 


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Hunting For Fossilized Sharks’ Teeth in Florida–Experience Adventure 16 of 100

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One of my daughters loves paleontology and she collects all kinds of things–seeds, nuts, leaves, bones, feathers, fossils, rocks and crystals.  My other daughter wants to pursue a career in marine biology–her current passion focuses on cephalopods and a desire to discover a reversal for tetrodotoxin poisoning.  Yep, I can’t make that up.

Read all about my unique family here.

And here.

And here.

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We chose to homeschool 6.5 years ago–it provides the freedom for my children to study and pursue their unique passions on their own timelines.

Read this.

And this.

And this, too.

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The freedom to do education “our way” partners with the freedom to travel and explore some super cool things, hence our crazy attempt to complete 100 adventures in just 6 short months.

My daughters and I recently took a 3 week road trip that included awesome experiences in Richmond, Virginia, Savannah, Georgia, Jacksonville, Florida and some much needed “playtime” at Walt Disney World and Universal Studios.

What did we do in Richmond?  Read this.  And this. Oh!  And this, too.

Curious about what we did Savannah?  Hint:  It’s a museum with a speakeasy!  WHAT?!?Click here.

Before we headed to Orlando, I booked a few days of hunting in Nokomis, Florida.

What were we hunting???

SHARKS’ TEETH!

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Searching for fossilized sharks’ teeth is the perfect activity for both of my daughters.  Obviously, it connects one of my daughters to the ocean, but it also fulfills the need to be connected to the past so prevalent in my other daughter.  A WIN/WIN!  This mom RULES!

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Surprise, surprise–Before hitting the road, I did some extensive research looking for the best beaches to find sharks’ teeth.  Venice Beach kept coming up, so I joined a Facebook page for that area of Florida.  I asked the locals for personal recommendations and Nokomis Beach was the winner.  Next, I booked a hotel within walking distance of the ocean.  Done and done.

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Nokomis Beach sits on the Gulf of Mexico, south of Sarasota and north of Venice, near Casey Key, an 1.6 miles barrier island.

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This particular area of Florida features an abundant amount of fossilized sharks’ teeth because the Gulf coast tides carry ancient sediment and the converging currents deposit the treasures on the beautiful shore.  Significant storms and hurricanes erode the beach, so the city dredges sand from the ocean floor to replace and replenish what is lost.

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What sinks down into the sand at the bottom of the ocean becomes fossilized over millions of years.   That’s right my friends.  I am talking about dead sharks. 

Most sharks possess 4 rows of sharp, triangular teeth and the state of Florida was once under water.  Those amazing creatures swam on top of what we now call Nokomis Beach and only the fossilized teeth remain.  Millions of them.  Millions of years old.

 

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We found 311 fossilized sharks’ teeth in 2 days.  The most common of these were from sand sharks, reef sharks, lemon sharks and extinct species such as giant makos and snaggletooths.  These teeth represent current and prehistoric sharks that lived during the Cenozoic Era–66 million years ago to present time.

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Unfortunately, we never found a megalodon tooth, much to my youngest daughter’s disappointment, but it is not unheard of in the area.  (It was certainly not from a lack of trying.  LOL)

We visited several beaches along the Gulf of Mexico:  Venice, Casey Key, Nokomis and Sarasota. We only found sharks’ teeth at the Nokomis public beach, which also offered a breathtaking ocean view and access to free parking and clean restrooms.  I appreciate that!  Thank you Nokomis public beach!  🙂

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Nokomis Beach gives visitors a beautiful ocean view, with a peaceful and relaxing small-town vibe.

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At Casey’s Pass, we found a plethora of beautiful seashells. (But, no sharks’ teeth.)

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Views at Casey’s Pass are mesmerizing.

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So, how did we find so many sharks’ teeth?

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Quite honestly, it was super easy.  🙂

We took buckets and Ziploc baggies to hold all of our treasures.  Those were our only “tools”.  Some people prefer to use a large scoop, sometimes called a Florida snow shovel, but we never needed that.

Of course my daughters tackled the experience in a scientific manner, marking off the searchable areas.  LOL

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This method proved quite effective while searching in the drier areas of the sandy beach.

They also looked in the water, which mostly resulted in discovering shells, not teeth.

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I prefer to search at the water’s edge in the collection of tiny shells brought in by the gentle waves.

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The three of us “trained” our eyes to only seek dark, triangle-shaped objects.  Once our eyes committed to the search, the hunt was on and the sharks’ teeth were unbelievably easy to spot.

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We really enjoyed the thrilling (and oddly relaxing!) experience and hope we can return when it is a tiny bit warmer.  🙂

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Where have you found fossilized sharks’ teeth?

Share your proven methods!

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Curious about what we did in Jacksonville, FL?  Click here.

Check out this museum in Florida!  Click here!

How about a company that hires refugee women?  Yep.  That is pretty awesome!

Read this!

This is cool.  Read this.

 


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The Museum of History and Science–Experience Adventure 15 of 100

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For our 15th experience adventure, we explored the Museum of Science and History (The MOSH) in Jacksonville, Florida.

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The museum sits on the scenic edge of the Southbank River Walk and opened to the public at the current location in 1969.  A planetarium was added in 1988.  The most recent renovation came in 1994, even though the planetarium received a technology refresh in 2010.

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The colorful, outdoor space represents a natural habitat setting for insects and butterflies and several signs with information are posted so that the learning begins before visitors enter the building.  🙂  I like that!

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82,200 square feet of museum space is divided into three levels of exhibits, including the Bryan-Gooding Planetarium and the Hixon Native Plant Courtyard.  The main exhibit constantly changes and highlights different topics, while the other halls are permanent.

My daughters and I chose this museum because the main exhibit (which rotates) showcased ancient Rome and Roman history until January 28, 2018.

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The massive exhibit featured a wide array of Roman history, culture, simple machines, weaponry, statues, art, clothing and architectural engineering.

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We found the area clean, organized, well maintained and everything in working order within the main hall, which changes its display often.

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Though I always appreciate hands-on, interactive exhibits, this one lacked information and left me wanting more explanation.  Some “stations” offered awesome gadgets and instruments to touch and examine, but the educational material was minimal, insignificant, or missing altogether.

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We enjoyed the permanent Jacksonville and Northeast Florida history hall called Currents of Time.  It leads visitors through an extensive and visual timeline beginning with the Timucuas and ending in the 1960’s, which represents 12,000 years of Floridian history.  We spent the most time in this section.IMG_20180123_111021.jpg

 

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The Jacksonville, Florida history exhibit showcases one of the best visual and educational timelines we have experienced in a museum.  However, the other halls appear gloomy, dark, dingy and significantly lacked updating.

The Atlantic Tails and Hixon Native Plant Courtyard both present dated and “well-loved” displays and need a good cleaning, repairs, updates, and/or re-tweaking.  Even though the touch tank was supposed to be available from 11 am to 2 pm, there was nothing in it except slime.

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Other exhibits are simple and very limited, though each section did present several hands-on activities.

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The entire third floor focused on a tiny area with brain teaser stations.  My daughters enjoyed the problem solving, but the exhibit is not substantial and only a fraction of what it could and should be.

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Overall, I give the Museum of Science and History a mediocre “C” rating.  The regional history hall and Roman exhibit saved it from a failing grade, in my opinion.  Our tickets included general admission and 1 program at the planetarium, but my daughters grew bored quickly and did not want to wait around for the show.  If my girls want to leave a museum, there is a problem.  We left feeling unfulfilled.

Visit the museum for the Jacksonville and Northeast Florida walkthrough-history timeline.

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The Museum of Science and History (MOSH) is located at 1025 Museum Circle, Jacksonville, Florida, 32207.  It is open 7 days a week and until 8pm on Friday nights.  For more information, visit www.themosh.org or call 904-396-6674.

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Want to check out some other museums in Florida?  Read this!  And this!

Heading to Walt Disney World?  This is a MUST read!

Everything you need to know about the 2018 Disney dining plan is right here!

 


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Morian Hall of Paleontology at the Houston Museum of Natural Science

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Ranked as one of the most-visited museums in North America, The Houston Museum of Natural Science (HMNS) showcases a plethora of traveling educational exhibits and features an impressive assembly of permanent collections, worthy of topping any must-see lists for Houston, Texas.

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Permanent exhibitions include a comprehensive Farish Hall of Texas Wildlife, an extraordinary Hall of Ancient Egypt and the stunning Cullen Hall of Gems and Minerals, just to name a few.

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With 30,000 square feet of modern, clean lines, chalky white alcoves and chronological classifications, The Morian Hall of Paleontology houses the extraordinary and one of the most monumental permanent collections found inside the HMNS.

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World-renowned paleontologist and author, Robert T. Bakker, Ph.D., curates the substantial exhibit.  The collection walks visitors through prehistoric eras and human evolution, presenting predators and prey in active, natural poses.

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450 exquisite fossils and authentic replicas narrate the story of the flora and fauna that dominated our Earth for 200 million years.

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Descriptive and informative labels, comprehensive explanations and epoch timelines guide museum visitors through thought-provoking and educational displays.

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Several realistic-looking representations portray early humanoids and Neanderthals.

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The Morian Hall of Paleontology at the Houston Museum of Natural Science presents a thorough and breathtaking view into a prehistoric and extinct world brimming with unusual biology, enormous dinosaurs, massive tress and an ever-changing environment.

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Put this museum and specifically, the Morian Hall of Paleontology, on your “Things to do in Houston” list.

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The Houston Museum of Natural Science is located at 5555 Hermann Park Drive, Houston, Texas, 77030.

Hours of operation:

Monday-Sunday 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

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Ticket pricing for all permanent exhibits and collections:

Adults–$25

Children ages 3-11–$15

Seniors ages 62+–$15

College students with ID–$15

Military with ID–$8

Members are always free.

Parking is available in the museum parking garage.

Parking for non-members–$20

Parking for members–$5

Discounts, Groupons and CityPass cards are sometimes available.

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Dining options while at the museum:

McDonald’s is in the museum’s Grand Entry Hall and several restaurants exist within walking distance.  I recommend the MFA Café, located inside the Museum of Fine Arts, just a few blocks from the Museum of Natural Science.

Visit www.hmns.org or call 713-639-4629 to purchase tickets and for more information.

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Do you love museums?

Click here to read about my favorite museum in Oklahoma.

Click here to read about the Salvador Dali museum in Florida.

Traveling to Houston soon?  Check out Cirque du Soleil’s Kurios, currently performing in Houston, Texas.  Click here to read a full review of the amazing show!