Traveling Around - Ft. Worth, TX - Museum of Science and History
Within a four or five block square area in the west central area of downtown Fort Worth are located 8 or 9 museums. One of these is the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History. It is perhaps the largest in the area. There is a lot of parking both public and private in the area. The area is served by both the Trinity Railway Express and the T Bus Route 7.
In addition to the museum exhibits it houses an IMAX theater that is the largest IMAX dome west of the Mississippi River. In 2005, it upgraded its equipment enabling it to show 2 1/2 hour length films. It took immediate advantage of that time allotment and is currently showing the blockbuster movie "Interstellar" with Mathew McConaughey that has been digitally remastered to take advantage of the IMAX screen.
The exhibit areas of the museum trace the growth of the state from its inception. It is clear that the state started as a cattle ranching state and grew into the energy discovery industry. This history is shown in its 3 areas: the Cattle Raisers Museum, the Fort Worth Children's Museum, and Energy Blast. In addition there are more generalized areas and special exhibits about Texas history and science. One of the larger exhibits is the Dino Lab.
There is an admission charge to both the museum and separately to the IMAX theater. Further information about those charges, schedules, and the museum hours can be found at the museum's website.
The Second Floor
After passing the Admissions Desk, there is a welcoming stairway on the left to the 2nd floor. On that floor, immediately to the left of the staircase is the Noble Planetarium while to the right is The Cattle Raisers Museum.
The Noble Planetarium features a 40 foot dome cover that is used to portray visits to the limitless outer space. There are current shows about the Milky Way and about Black Holes. There is a program covering travel to the moon anticipating a permanent settlement there. Showtimes normally are less than one hour in length and a schedule is posted.
The Cattle Raisers Museum begins with a full size diorama of cattle passing in a line next to the spectator. It winds to the left to a separate entrance to the planetarium where a production is shown on the overhead dome about nighttime on the range. The entertaining production ends with a thundering herd of cattle racing across the screen. Outside the theater a large collection of branding irons is displayed and discussed via video. A display of spurs is also located there. Next is a video theater production of cattle drives in the old West and of the difference in transportation of cattle then and now. Throughout the area are interspersed placards and displays of memorabilia about the men that were instrumental in the formation of the cattle industry.
The First Floor
On the ground floor underneath The Cattle Raisers Museum is the Stars Café which is open for lunch. Restrooms are also located in this area.
Across the foyer from the staircase is a wing of exhibition rooms and a gift shop. The first exhibition room is geared towards young people. One of the featured exhibits is a tornado machine - where you can see a tornado forming and interact enough to disrupt the activity of the tornado. There are five glass enclosed classrooms that are named Inventor, Doodler, Designer, Imaginer, and Explorer. The names define the activities that go on in each.
Next on that side of the corridor is the Fort Worth Children's Museum. This museum is designed for children up through the age of 8.
The large gift shop is located on the opposite side of the corridor. Behind the gift shop is The Dino Dig. It is an outdoors area that has large boulders formed on the ground and an area of sandy soil that is about 30 feet by 30 feet. There are implements near the dig area that can be used to uncover dinosaur bones that are just below the surface of the sandy soil. Once the bones are discovered and the urge to dig has been fulfilled, an attendant rakes the surface and covers the bones with the soil for the next group of explorers.
Next in line is the Energy Blast - perhaps the most impressive of the exhibits. It is a 3D presentation with motion seats and other theatrical special effects. The theater is small and seats only 40. The subject of the presentation is the millions of years from the big bang that started the formation of our solar system to the present day efforts to extract natural gas from the earth. Children in the audience usually become excited and boisterous during the presentation.
Adjacent to the theater is a display of the activity of natural gas discovery and retrieval. One of those is a small diorama where five separate control panels show the how power is generated through the use of various mechanisms (coal, wind, nuclear, etc.) and then powers parts of the diorama.
Just outside these energy exhibits is the Dino Lab. Large full size replica skeletons of dinosaurs are displayed here as well as the mechanics of creating and identifying dinosaur bones. Lab technicians receive material from the dig areas and analyze it to determine age and things like size and gender.
Up a small stairway is where the IMAX theater is located. This is where the current feature "Interstellar" is showing.
We spent several hours in the museum. Close by is an adjunct to the Science and History Museum - The National Cowgirl Museum - where the attendee can understand the cowgirls' history through interactive exhibits. More information is at their website. This area of downtown Ft Worth can turn into a full day of activity.