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‘Fantabulous’ Fun at the Perot Museum

A young scientist gets a lesson from laboratory technician Callen Kaut in the Bio Lab in the Being Human Hall. Photo: Jason Janik/Perot Museum of Nature and Science

Guest Blogger Gail Sachson owns Ask Me About Art, offering lectures, tours and program planning. 

Eleven exhibits and 180,000 square feet is a lot to take in and traverse – but not too much that you won’t leave awed and eager to return. Everybody will find their own path on their initial visit to the Perot Museum of Nature and Science. Some will gravitate to the dinosaurs, the DNA lab, the discovery of minerals or the  speed testing Sports Hall on the lower level. My two and a half hour visit was filled with some folly, much fun and many facts, the highlights of which follow:

  • Appropriately enough, the whys and hows of bird flight began at the top in the fourth floor Rose Hall of Birds. I flew like a bird in 3-D and watched a short, well-edited video of birds having sex.
  • I held on to the rails as I sampled the ground shifting effects of an earthquake on level three’s Dynamic Earth exhibit.
  • Standing in front of a green screen of hail, then sun, then rain, I practiced my theatrical skills while giving a weather report. It was a combination of karaoke for weathermen and photo booth fun!
  • Then it was on to to the Lyda Hill Gems and Minerals Hall. You could wear any cut and polished gem you might own and have a great time matching up the stunning uncut, unpolished version with the store-bought variety.
  • In the Discovering Life Hall, I pressed the buttons to view Ladies’ Choice, a visual tool that explains “engaging attributes and winning strategies” that male animals showcase to win female mates. Need tips? 1) Build a home. 2) Exhibit good genes. 3) Dance like a star and 4) Be fab vs. drab. Just like humans, I thought.
  • Following up with genetics, I wandered into the DNA lab, where I could have donned a white lab coat and goggles to play research scientist and actually examine the DNA in my cheek cells. Being on a mission to see it all, I didn’t want to wait the 20 minutes to witness the outcome. But the process was explained to me with great expertise by the gallery’s laboratory technician, Callen Kaut, who has a degree in molecular biology. I left wondering what real scientific breakthroughs could actually take place at the museum.
  • Moments later, I did have the opportunity to aid in real research. I wandered into the gallery of aging and brain health and filled out a questionnaire for the Center of Brain Health. The answers will be sent to University of Texas researchers to learn more about the aging brain. I qualify.
  • Then, it was more fun input. A bulletin board filled with yellow sticky notes asked the question, “What’s Your idea?” Sophia, age 8, suggested “an animal translator,” and another wise visitor wrote, ” a device that monitors your credit card and bank account and tells you if making a purchase is smart.”

Making a purchase of a ticket to the Perot is very smart. A membership is even smarter, because as  another visitor wrote when asked “What’s the best way to describe this museum?”  they wrote in bold letters, “Fantabulous.” I couldn’t have said it better.