The Houston Museum of Natural Science is located in Hermann Park, one of the city's most popular outdoor destinations. The museum consists of four floors that are home to a butterfly center, planetarium, IMAX theatre, special exhibits, and a few permanent exhibits. The museum has a long history and was established back in 1909. The original vision of the museum to was to enhance public knowledge about natural science and related subjects. Today, the museum is one of the most heavily attended in the United States and comparable to the Smithsonian Institution in D.C. and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Over a half million school children visit the museum annually creating a major science learning environment. The mission of the museum is to preserve and advance knowledge of natural science and its mission has placed it at the center of the Houston Museum District.
There are thirteen permanent exhibits at the Houston Museum of Natural Science. The museum offers a diverse assortment of things to do and see. Each exhibit is divided into a hall, room, or gallery. For example, the Paleontology Hall gives visitors the chance to study dinosaur fossils. The area contains more than 450 original fossils and replicas. The Cullen Hall has a collection of the world's finest gems and minerals. The earth's rarest and most beautiful examples of crystallized specimens is one of the many reasons the Houston Museum of Natural Science has been ranked so highly in the nation. The Weiss Energy Hall is another comprehensive exhibit that is considered the world's most sophisticated. The hall educates about scientific concepts involving the oil and gas industry. Visitors to the hall can learn about the process of energy development. Other exhibits in the museum involve a broad range of subjects such as Chemistry, Space Science, Egyptian history, African Wildlife, Texas Wildlife, The Americas, and Earth.
A visit to the Houston Museum of Natural Science could take hours because of all the artifacts, exhibits, and halls that are available to the visitors. One interesting space at the museum is called the 100 Years - 100 Objects collection. The museum has been established for over a hundred years and has one exceptional specimen or artifact for each year of the history on display. Visitors who are interested in movies can attend the museum's IMAX Theatre. Each movie has a theme related to earth and natural science. Movies range in sophistication so that they appeal to both younger and older audiences.
Part of the Houston Museum of Natural Science is a satellite facility located an hour away from Houston. The facility is called the George Observatory and is home to three domed telescopes and observatory houses for Space Science education. One of the largest telescopes at the Observatory is a 36-inch Gueymard Research Telescope and is the largest telescope open to the public regularly. The telescopes allows visitors to see flares, sunspots, and gas prominences caused by the sun. The George Observatory is designed for professional and amateur astronomers who have an interest in the solar system.
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