Cabinet of Curiosities
Eclectic, privately-owned collections deemed “Cabinet of Curiosity” initially gained popularity during the Renaissance period, peaked during the Victorian era and eventually became the basis for the first public museums. Inspired by these collections, this exhibit displays more than 4,000 unique objects from all over the world for visitors to examine in a homey setting, complete with large leather chairs and a cozy fireplace. There isn’t a specific theme among this collection’s objects, but rather represents man’s curiosity and desire for knowledge through exploration. These treasures include, but are not limited to, exotic taxidermy animals, various shells and other rare marine specimens, religious artifacts and even a Nile crocodile, all of which are immortalized in this collection.
Fabergé: From a Snowflake to an Iceberg
Combining art and history, the McFerrin Collection is one of the world’s largest private collections of Fabergé objects. Many are familiar with Fabergé’s intricate Easter eggs, most of which were designed and crafted for the Russian Imperial family starting in the late 19th century through the early 20th century. While this exhibition does include a few outstanding examples of these creations, it also displays Fabergé’s more practical—yet still ornate—objects such as clocks, hand-held fans, jewelry, cigarette cases and more. This exhibition will temporarily close this fall as it moves to another gallery within the museum and is expected to re-open in its full glory in the spring of 2017.
Cockrell Butterfly Center
Although the grand, three-story rainforest conservatory is a permanent fixture at the museum, it is certainly one of the most well-loved experiences. The conservatory is complete with a 50-foot waterfall, countless live butterflies, exotic tropical plants, insects and more. If you’re lucky, one of the resident butterflies might land on you and join the tour of the conservatory. In addition to self-guided tours, weekly summer events in the Cockrell Butterfly Center are offered through August 19.
Morian Hall of Paleontology
This is another permanent exhibition, but it never fails to impress visitors. The exhibit sets out on a chronological journey of life on Earth—from the relatively small marine Trilobites all the way to the larger-than-life dinosaurs and even early humans. This exhibition is complete with over 450 casts and fossils, including unique specimens such as T-Rexes, Triceratops, rare fossilized dinosaur skin, a 12-foot wide Megalodon jaw and much more. All of these creatures are brought to life, placed in various dynamic action poses—fighting, hunting, and chasing one another as they would during their lives. If you can catch a guided tour of this exhibition, you will discover lesser-known facts and features that are easily missed on a self-guided tour.
Amber Secrets: Feathers from the Age of Dinosaurs
If you’re intrigued by in the Hall of Paleontology, you should also visit the world’s finest collection of Burmese amber currently on display at the museum. With more than 100 pieces in the collection, visitors can view all sorts of organic material preserved inside of amber, including insects, plants, fungi, small animals and more. Most interestingly, feathers have also been preserved within some of these amber pieces, which provides evidence that feathered creatures roamed the Earth as far back as 99 million years ago, much earlier than paleontologists previously thought. This exhibition gives visitors a unique look into the Earth’s history as well as the chance to see contemporary scientific breakthroughs firsthand.
HMNS After Dark
If you’re looking to miss the weekend crowds, the museum will host a HMNS After Dark event on July 27 where museum hours will be extended until 9 p.m. In addition to the permanent and special exhibitions like the Cockrell Butterfly Center, Burke Baker Planetarium and Wortham Giant Screen Theatre, the museum will also offer two tours of the Hall of Ancient Egypt and the Morian Hall of Paleontology at 6 and 7 p.m. Psst: There will also be a cash bar for drinks!
Death by Natural Causes
The museum's newest attraction this fall will be the Death by Natural Causes exhibit (starting October 24). This collection will include a range of potentially deadly animals, mushrooms, vegetables, minerals and other dangers from the natural world. Various urban legends will be explored and debunked alongside unique specimens, elaborate graphics and intriguing visuals for visitors to discover.