Houston Museum of Natural Science
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Founded in 1909, the purpose of the Houston Museum of Natural Science has always been to "enhance in individuals the knowledge and delight in natural science and related subjects..." To this very day, this purpose is carried out in every project, program and exhibition associated with the museum.
As one of the most heavily attended museums in the United States, and one of the most attended venues in Houston, the Museum is in the distinguished company of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C., the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the American Museum of Natural History, both in New York City.
The Museum is a five-venue complex housing the Burke Baker Dome Theatre, Wortham IMAX Theatre, Cockrell Butterfly Center and four floors of natural science halls and exhibits. Over a dozen permanent exhibit areas cover subjects on astronomy, space science, Native Americans, paleontology, energy, chemistry, gems and minerals, seashells, and Texas wildlife. Rotating special exhibits are a constant occurrence. There is also the huge Fondren Discovery Place on the first floor that is filled with hands-on exhibits that will delight children and adults of all ages.
The Museum is also a major science learning center with over a half million school children visiting annually, including every fourth grade and eighth grade class in the Houston Independent School District. Just one of many unique educational opportunities available to these students and others is the Challenger Learning Center, the first in a national network, which allows students to experience the teamwork necessary to complete a variety of space tasks. Modeled after NASA, the two-part center houses Mission Control on the Lower Level, which is linked via monitors, microphones and computers to a space simulator located in the Museum's penthouse.