With special exhibits rotating in and out of the Houston Museum of Natural Science throughout the year, it's easy to overlook the permanent exhibits. The Morian Hall of Paleontology is one constant you don't want to miss. This is no ordinary collection of dinosaur bones on display; it's an in-depth encounter with creatures of the past that is sure to enthrall even the youngest visitors.
It's been a long time since I've visited the dinosaurs at the Houston Museum of Natural Science, but it has changed since my childhood visits. In 2012, the Morian Hall of Paleontology was revamped into the 30,000-square-foot space visitors see today, complete with massive replicas of prehistoric creatures. My toddler is currently dinosaur obsessed, so we decided a trip to visit the dinosaurs was in order. And what a trip it was!
Long gone are the stand-alone dinosaur bones, and in their place are stunning recreations of dinosaurs and their extinct habitat. Be prepared to embark on a journey 3.5 billion years into the past when you enter the paleontology hall starting with the dawn of the dinosaurs and following them through time to their demise. Most of the displays recreate a scene of predator and prey with dinosaurs running for their lives and fighting for their food. Behind each of these displays are vibrant murals that illustrate what the scene would have looked like billions of years ago, and it was artwork that tied everything together for my toddler. He loved pointing out which set of bones corresponded with the dinosaurs in the murals after thoroughly examining each one. It brought the whole collection to life for him.
In addition to the impressive dinosaur scenes, the hall is also filled with prehistoric skeletons suspended from the ceiling, fossils of all shapes and sizes and slabs of petrified wood. It's a wealth of information displayed so creatively that it left my normally over-zealous 2.5-year-old entranced.
Walking through the exhibit isn't enough, though. Once we were finished seeing everything at eye level, we headed up a floor to the second level of the museum where the Morian Overlook is located. The overlook offered the proverbial icing on the cake for my son because we were able to see the entire exhibit from a birds-eye view. Gazing down at the dinosaurs after seeing them up close and personal was an impressive end to our trip and something I highly recommend for anyone visiting the paleontology hall.
- Entrance to the Morian Hall of Paleontology is free for Museum Members, as is the entrance to all permanent exhibits.
- Non-member tickets are $25 for adults (12 and up), $15 for children (3-11). Children 2 and under are free.
- While photography is allowed in the Morian Hall of Paleontology, flash photography is not.
- The exhibit is open during regular museum hours (9 a.m. to 5 p.m.).
- Entrance to the permanent exhibits at the museum is free 2-5 p.m. on Thursdays.
All photos by Rachael Cherry