The Museum's permanent collections provide myriad opportunities for education and exploration. These collections are split between two primary areas: the Nature Exploration Center and the Nature Research center. These exhibits provide an engaging environment through which to learn about the wonders of the natural world.
Nature Exploration Center
The Nature Exploration Center at the Museum of Natural Sciences host an abundance of exhibits to see and explore. Most of the exhibits focus on the natural wonders of North Carolina, highlighting the world in the community's own backyard. These include Natural Treasures of North Carolina and Mountain Cove, which examine some species found only in this particular area, and Nature's Explorers, which highlights the region's past.
From the near to the distant past, the Nature Exploration Center covers it all. Guests will want to be sure to check out Prehistoric North Carolina and Terror of the South, two exhibits highlighting the flora and fauna of the area in time before man. This includes the only full Acrocanthosaurus skeleton on display in the world, and a 1.5 million-year old sloth. The journey back in time continues in Underground North Carolina, an exhibit dedicated to the geology of the area, including highlights of the four major gemstones that can be found there - diamonds, rubies, emeralds and sapphires - the only state that can claim to be home to all four.
After digging beneath the surface, visitors can return to the waters' edge, to explore several exhibits highlighting the North Carolina Coast. These include Mountains to Sea, where guests explore habitat recreations and learn more about the flora and fauna found right at home. Coastal North Carolina and its Overlook above, highlight the coastal zones of the state, which include saltmarshes, barrier islands and maritime forests. The view from the overlook features an extraordinary blue whale skeleton, one of the finest on display in the country.
Moving from skeletonized animals to the real live things, the Nature Exploration Center features several exhibits with creatures of all shapes and sizes. The Living Conservatory highlights distinctive habitats, particularly the unique tropical dry forest and its inhabitants. The Arthropod Zoo showcases creatures that creep and crawl, and the Snakes of North Carolina exhibit live ups to its name - featuring some of the 40 species of snakes found in the state.