Let’s back up a little bit. For those that may not know me, i.e. almost all of you, my first true love was paleontology. So once I read about the museum’s “World’s Largest Dinosaurs” showcase, this place quickly shot to number 1 on my to-do list in my new city. Around two weeks after I moved to Dallas, my mom came on vacation from West Virginia so I seized the opportunity for us to do something fantastic together. This would allow me to share my new passion with my biggest supporter. From the time, I walked in the door, I wasn’t disappointed. We stopped in for a quick bite at their first-floor cafe and I was pleasantly surprised to find healthy options on the menu. I wholeheartedly believe in giving people quality nutrition choices, especially when said visitors need to ‘brain food’ before they embark on an eye-opening journey through all of existence. As stated in the title, it wasn’t long before I saw the inadvertent correlations between this place and my favorite T.V. show. It wouldn’t be hard to make the show and the museum a dual experience. Perhaps a project for another day, eh? (For more info, check out my article on the series in the documentaries section here.)
The first thing you’ll notice venturing the museum is all the smiling faces willing to guide you in the right direction, dispense valuable information, or generally make you feel at home. Since the “World’s Largest Dinosaurs” exhibit is what drew me, we started there. I’ll admit, it was the only time I was little underwhelmed…at first. Realizing the exhibit almost solely focused on *the* largest dinosaurs, and not different groups of them like I’d wrongly assumed, I was worried it would be the only preserved prehistoric animals I’d get to see. My worries were unfounded, as I would soon find out
Oh. My. God…er…Science.
Right here and now, I’ll raise the challenge to any other “Astronut” to explore this room and NOT grin like the Cheshire Cat as you wander in a nearly involuntarily daze past the vast amounts of perfectly represented visual stimuli on display here. A large-scale model of the entire Observable Universe hovers over an expertly narrated video of the Universe — I’ll let you discover the voice-over artist for yourself– before giving way to a wall-mounted timeline adorned with information on trail-blazers like Newton and Hubble. Being locked in this part of the room for a week or two with open access would be just about the best vacation imaginable for someone like me.
Part of the room you may ask? I’d noticed my mom had disappeared and when I went looking for her, I noticed I’d missed a turn. I had been so enamored by all the outstanding Universe work, that I hadn’t even noticed I’d walked by the main part of the hall until almost 90 minutes later. There, right in front of me, was the T Boone Pickens “Life Then and Now” hall. What’s that mean for you, dear reader? Frackin’ Dinosaurs. I lightly mentioned my love for dinosaurs earlier so let me explain a little further. You see, growing up for me, there was nothing more fascinating than dinosaurs. Truth be told, my goal was to be a Paleontologist before the D.J. booth called my name. There’s still a very big part of me that wouldn’t mind searching for these so-called Terrible Lizards for the rest of my days. So when I found myself standing in between the two great science loves of my life, you can see how I could have been a bit…emotional. On a broken phone sitting in my closet is a video where I recorded as I realized just exactly what all surrounded me. I was Charlie in Wonka’s chocolate factory, boys and girls. As I proceeded down the hallway and into this main room floor, I noticed it expanding out to both sides, presenting visitors with a fantastic array of paleontological finds. Spread out of over all of the major Dinosauria epochs, I found myself stunned to silence yet again. Me, the dinonut, had never laid eyes on these ancient bones in real life. The obsessed teen in me– the one that walked around with a copy of The Lost World: Jurassic Park for a few years–took over for the next hour. It felt like…home. A place of pure, unadulterated joy. Even my talented photographer, David Gifford, had a blast trying to figure out how to frame photos because there was just SO much to put into each shot. As previously mentioned, I didn’t get off this floor the first few times I visited. The top floor may very well be my most favorite place on earth. This piece is only scratching the surface of such a source of pride for residents and visitors alike.
I implore you all to visit and let the experience wash over you. I’ve taken a handful of friends so far and plan on taking as many as I can in the future. I build up this experience every time before taking them and no one’s ever disappointed. This is what our society needs more of. This is what future generations are missing from their childhoods. You may not know that you are missing out, now you do. Snag the Upportunity. Make a difference. Change the world!!
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