This is quite a lot more than your average natural history museum. Yes, it has everything you expect (and some you might not): dinosaur skeletons, displays of Texas wildlife, a stunning gem and mineral collection, and exhibits on early cultures of the Americas, climatology, chemistry, and oil and gas exploration. But what gets most of the buzz is the miniature rainforest environment created in the Butterfly Center. You can walk among hundreds of living butterflies as they dance about in the steamy air amid a small waterfall. As you enter, you pass through the insect zoo, which holds some fascinating and bizarre living specimens of beetles, spiders, and other bugs that you wouldn't necessarily want running around freely with you.
Also in the museum are an IMAX theater and a planetarium. The museum recently equipped the planetarium with computer-animation projectors that enhance the quality of its programs about stars, galaxies, nebulae, and other astral bodies. In years past, the directors have assembled some great temporary exhibits, so ask about any that might be open during your visit. The museum occupies a corner of the Hermann Park about 3 blocks from the Museum of Fine Arts next to the equestrian statue of Sam Houston.
- © Frommer's 2013
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