The Texas Memorial Museum, located on the University of Texas at Austin campus, focuses on natural history. Exhibits include the fields of geology, paleontology, ichthyology, and biology. In 1936, politicians as well as other citizens realized there was no state museum in Texas during the state's Centennial Celebrations. This was first noticed, however, in the 1910's when institutions on the East Coast took collections out of the state due to its lack of facilities. James E. Pearce from the University of Texas at Austin and A. Garland Adair from the Texas American Legion worked together in the 1930's to create the first state museum in Texas. Their idea was that the museum would contribute the conservation of the state's historic treasures, as well as serve as an educational resource for Texas. The Texas Memorial Museum was originally a state museum, but was later given to the University of Texas at Austin.

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The Texas Memorial Museum's Great Hall displays the most valuable specimens in the museum, many of which have the public has never seen before. The hall's highlight is the Texas Pterosaur, Quetzalcoatalus northropi, which was flying reptile unearthed by scientists from The University of Texas at Austin in West Texas. The reptile is the largest flying creature discovered, with a wingspan of forty feet. The Natural Wonders: Treasures of the Texas Memorial Museum exhibit is based directly on the research done by university scientists. Creature specimens are rotated out from collections several times throughout the year, allowing a broader diversity of specimens to be seen by the public.

The Hall of Texas Wildlife showcases the various animals found throughout the state through dioramas, as well as mounted specimens of amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals. The Fishes of Texas exhibit area features collected specimens, underwater photographs, and multimedia displays to help visitors learn more about the value and diversity of fish in Texas. Visitors can also learn about different insects and how flight has been influential in the success of Earth's most dominant group of animals in the museum's Winged Wonders exhibit area.

The museum's Hall of Geology and Paleontology showcases more than five hundred specimens of dinosaurs and other fossils. Included in the collection is the Onion Creek Mosasaur, an aquatic reptile of thirty feet in length that once existed during the Cretaceous Period in the seas of Texas. Visitors can learn about fossils found in the Austin area in the Discover Drawers area. However, the exhibit's main highlight is the Paleo Lab, at which interns and paleontologists answer questions from guests while preparing fossils for research, education, and display.

The Texas Memorial Museum's Hall of Biodiversity features an interactive learning center called Explore Evolution. Th exhibit includes interactive and multimedia displays that explain the recent contributions the understanding of biological evolution. Major discoveries and present-day scientific research by internationally-renowned scientist are also included in the exhibit.

2400 Trinity Street, Austin, Texas, website, Phone: 512-471-1604

Back to: Austin, TX

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