Sunday, July 14, 2024

Perot Museum of Nature and Science opens to the public in Dallas, Texas

Ribbon cutting at the Perot Museum of Nature & Science in Dallas, Dec 1

DALLAS, Texas USA – After a decade of planning and years of construction, the Perot Museum of Nature and Science opened its doors December 1, 2012 to the general public with great fanfare, including a vertical dance performance by BANDALOOP against the 14-story striated exterior of the museum’s cube. Confetti guns, lively music, remarks by dignitaries, and even a “hip-hip-hoo ray” led by Ross Perot added to the festivities.

Speaking at the ceremonies were Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings, Nicole G. Small, Eugene McDermott chief executive officer of the Perot Museum; Carolyn Perot Rathjen, chair of the Perot Museum of board of directors, and her sister, Katherine Perot Reeves; and Forrest Hoglund, founder and chair of the museum capital campaign. Also attending were Margo Perot, Ross Perot, Jr., Suzanne Perot McGee and Nancy Perot Mulford, founders Lyda Hill and Jan and Trevor-Rees Jones, as well as hundreds of museum members and visitors. The Barack Obama Male Academy Presidential Leadership Band also performed. Opening day was sponsored by Geico. 

Designed by 2005 Pritzker Architecture Prize Laureate Thorn Mayne and his firm Morphosis Architects, the Museum was named in honor of Margot and Ross Perot, the result of a $50-million gift made by their adult children. The $185 million fundraising goal- which provided for the site acquisition , exhibition planning and design, construction of the new building, education programs and an endowment- was achieved November 2011. The Museum, which was built without incurring any debt or public funding, is located on a 4.7-acre site at 2201 N. Field St., just north of downtown Dallas and in Victory Park.

The building is conceived as a large cube floating over a landscaped plinth and is designed to inspire awareness of science through an immersive and interactive environment that actively engages visitors. Conceived by the architects in collaboration with Dallas-based landscape architects, Talley Associates, the plinth is landscaped with an acre of rolling roofscape comprised of rock and native drought-resistant grasses that reflects Texas’s indigenous landscape and demonstrates a living system that will evolve naturally over time.

Building on the Museum’s commitment to resource conservation, the new building integrates a variety of sustainable strategies including a rainwater collection system that captures run-off water from the roof and parking lot, satisfying 74 percent of the Museum’s non-potable water needs and 100 percent of its irrigation needs. Our hope is that the Perot Museum will be a living, vibrant and entertaining science lesson for all ages,” said Nicole G. Small, Eugene McDermott CEO of the Perot Museum of Nature and Science. 

The 180,000-square-foot museum features five floors of public space with 11 permanent exhibit halls, including a children’s museum complete with outdoor play space/courtyard, and a state-of-the-art hall designed to host world­ class traveling exhibitions. Other highlights include an expansive glass-enclosed lobby and adjacent rooftop deck; a multi-media, 3D digital cinema with seating for 298; a flexible-space auditorium; a Cafe; and a Museum Shop. 

The Lower Level houses the Moody Family Children’s Museum, Jan and Trevor Rees-Jones Exhibition Hall, Sports Hall and six Learning Labs. Created especially for ages 5 and younger, the Moody Family Children’s Museum gives babies, toddlers and preschoolers a space of their own to explore alongside a parent or caregiver. Highlights include an environment mimicking the Great Trinity Forest, child’s-size replicas of the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge, Reunion Tower and the Dallas Farmers Market. Other attractions include waterplay tables, a gazebo-enclosed baby and toddler park, an art lab and an outdoor dino dig. The Jan and Trevor Rees­ Jones Traveling Exhibition Hall provides an accommodating, flexible space to house world-class exhibitions designed to excite, educate and inspire a passion for science among all ages for decades to come. The 7,500- square-foot space has been specially designed to meet the strict environmental controls – related to humidity and temperature – to properly present and preserve artifact displays. In the Sports Hall, every field, court, track and gym is a hands-on science lab where visitors can explore the body in motion and get into action by throwing a fastball, kicking a soccer ball, turning cartwheels- even trying to outrun a Tyrannosaurus rex- while a high-speed camera captures it all.

Level 2 contains the Discovering Life Hall, Being Human Hall and Texas Instruments Engineering and Innovation Hall. The Discovering Life Hall encourages visitors to uncover the fascinating stories of the biosphere with interactive games and dioramas, naturalist activities , displays and taxidermy that reveal unique stories associated with biodiversity, evolution and Texas ecology. Inside the Texas Instruments Engineering and Innovation Hall, visitors will experience what it’s like to build a better building, program movements in a 3D animation lab, create music in a sound studio – and even design and build a robot to race through a maze, pick up objects or compete with other robots. In the Being Human Hall, visitors will be able to scrutinize slices of a human specimen, record the electrical activity of their heart and even use their brain waves to launch a Ping-Pong ball.

On Level 3, visitors will find The Rees-Jones Foundation Dynamic Earth Hall, Lyda Hill Gems and Minerals Hall, and Tom Hunt Energy Hall. Visitors can experience an earthquake, touch a tornado, broadcast a weather forecast and explore extreme Earth events within the controlled safety of The Rees-Jones Foundation Dynamic Earth Hall. By passing beneath a floor-to-ceiling arch of gleaming golden cubes representing crystals of the mineral pyrite, visitors enter the Lyda Hill Gems and Minerals Hall to find sparkling cases of mineral masterpieces – many rarely seen by the public- on loan from the collections of top Texas mineral connoisseurs. Other highlights include a 6- foot-high, 1.5-ton amethyst “grape jelly” geode that can be opened and closed by visitors with a large hand-wheel, a “cave” in the wall filled with a dazzling array of minerals found in the Pederneira Mine, and Mexico’s “cave of Giants,” home of the largest natural mineral crystals ever found, some up to 40 feet in length.

In the Tom Hunt Energy Hall, visitors will get to turn the valves of a full-size wellhead; use 3D technologies to map likely underground energy deposits; take a virtual trip deep underground to explore a drilling rig from the inside out, and discover how fossil fuels and alternative energy sources are playing a powerful role as global demand for energy is on the rise.

Level 4 features the Expanding Universe Hall, T. Boone Pickens Life Then and Now Hall, and Rose Hall of Birds. In the Expanding Universe Hall, visitors will experience what it’s like to be a space explorer with a 3D-animated journey through the solar system, an interactive stargazing adventure, an unusual obstacle course that moves at the speed of light, stunning images of space as seen by the Hubble Space Telescope, and more, that bring the awe-inspiring beauty of stars, planets and distant galaxies perfectly into focus. Towering dinosaurs, rare fossils, virtual paleo-habitats and much more make the T. Boone Pickens Life Then and Now Hall a must-see destination for dinosaur lovers, fossil collectors or anyone who ever wondered what life was like when dinosaurs roamed the Earth. Visitors also will see the first-ever installation of the Alamosaurus and the new species Pachyrhinosaurus perotorum, discovered in Alaska by the Perot Museum’s own Anthony Fiorillo, Ph.D., and named in honor of the Perot family. Upstairs on the fourth floor mezzanine, the Rose Hall of Birds beckons visitors to discover the astonishing links between dinosaurs and modern-day birds, take to the air as a bird avatar via a full-body flight simulator, flip through digital highlights of rare works from the renowned Edmund W. Mudge, Jr., Library of Ornithology, and create a virtual bird on one of six digital kiosks located within the exhibit.

3D Theater
The Hoglund Foundation Theater is a 3D digital cinema with seating for 298 that boasts bright, crystal-clear images and striking colors through state-of-the-art 4K digital projection. The theater will feature a variety of 2D and 3D films, from educational features and cutting-edge documentaries, to experimental independent films, animation, and even Hollywood blockbusters that are appropriate to the Museum’s mission.

In addition, the Perot Museum has a three-year multi-film deal with National Geographic to show and debut all NatGeo film products. On December 1, the Perot Museum will open with Sea Monsters 3D: A Prehistoric Adventure and Meerkats 3D, both appropriate for general audiences. For spring break, Wildest Weather in the Solar System 3D will celebrate its North Texas premiere at the Perot Museum.

The Perot Museum expects to attain three environmental designations- LEED Certification from the U.S. Green Building Council; Green Globes Certification from the Green Building Initiative, (separate from the Green Building Council), which focuses on a wide range of sustainable issues including operations; and the Sustainable Sites Initiative, which emphasizes landscape and site design.

Judith Rubin
Judith Rubin
Judith Rubin ([email protected]) is a leading journalist, content marketing specialist and connector in the international attractions industry. She reports on design and technical design, production and project management, industry trends and company culture. From 2005-2020 she ran communications and publications for the Themed Entertainment Association (TEA). In 2013, she was honored with the TEA Service Award. She was development director of IMERSA and publicist for the Large Format Cinema Association, and has contributed to the publications of PLASA, IAAPA and the International Planetarium Society. Judith joined World’s Fair magazine in 1987, which introduced her to the attractions industry. She joined InPark in 2010. Judith earned a BFA from Pratt Institute. She has lived in Detroit, New York, Oakland, and now Saint Louis, where she is active in the local arts community.

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