The permanent exhibitions are split into two halves: Art and science. The science galleries span much of the museum, and aim to impart new knowledge onto visitors. Exhibits take in the entire universe in the Universe Gallery, then focus somewhat closer to home with the Solar System and Planet Tower exhibitions. Finally, the Ancient Egypt gallery provides a fascinating insight into one of our planet’s most interesting civilizations.
The Universe Gallery features stunning photographs from space, as collected from the Hubble Space Telescope, JPL Spacecraft and NASA. Exhibits are updated regularly to reflect new cosmic discoveries and to stay up to date with the latest astronomical news. Also of note are the collection of meteorites which the museum owns, such as the Campo del Cielo iron meteorite, which weighs more than 250 pounds and is more than a billion years older than any natural rock found on earth. It was discovered in 1576, and is slightly larger than the Gibeon iron meteorite also on display, which was founded in 1836 and weighs around 239 pounds.
Standing in the center of one gallery is the Planet Tower, an architectural feat which spans over two floors and is prominently displayed in the Museum’s windows. The tower features scale models of the planets in the solar system, while the planetarium dome is used to represent the sun. Saturn’s rings stretch over fourteen feet wide and, in comparison, Earth is the size of a bowling ball.
The Solar System space contains both of these striking exhibits, as well as galleries of its own and two hands-on interactive stations: The Discovery Depot and the Science Station. The Discovery Depot is aimed at children up to nine years old to help them connect with art and science through play and creation. The Science Station is designed for kids aged seven to twelve, and offers interactive exhibits and games focused on science and math. Puzzles are designed to tease and stretch their minds while they learn about everything from calorie contents to the ethics of nanoscience and engineering.
The most interesting exhibit currently on display may be the Museum’s new triceratops skull. It’s more than 65 million years old, 86 inches long, weighs over 1,500 pounds and was unearthed in Montana. Many triceratops fossils have been found in America, as North and South America had split off from the historic land mass of Pangaea and started to become its own continent. Triceratops were larger than even African elephants are, and the skull serves as a reminder of just how far life on Earth has come.
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