About Melodie

Melodie is the Director of Public Relations here at the Museum.

Hey Texan! What do YOU know about the Lone Star State?

I recently saw Carol Burnett on an episode of Glee. I’ve always adored her, but this time I felt especially close to her because I just learned that she’s from Texas. Who knew? I’m a native Texan too. And I discovered our relation while taking a quiz to test my knowledge on Texas.

No, I’m not secretly a 4th or 7th grade student (all of whom are required by the state to take Texas history!) But I am excited to announce the Houston Museum of Natural Science’s next special exhibition, Texas! Making History Since 1519 on Sunday, March 6.

As you are undoubtedly aware, Texas has a history as large as the state itself! This exhibit will explore the unique roles that Texas has played: as a Spanish colony, as part of the Mexican Frontera, as an independent Republic, and as the 28th state to join the Union. Visitors will explore Texas’ rich legacy of perseverance, determination, diverse heritage and unique spirit through the stories of its central events and famous icons.

As it happens, we have an outstanding former Texas history teacher here at the Museum, Amanda Norris, who developed a quiz that we could put online for people to see how much they know about our great state. Then, I thought it would be fun to test my own knowledge and asked my colleagues to join me.

Texas Quiz!
Here we go!

We gathered around the table in the Marketing office on a Friday afternoon and took the test. If you’re a native Texan, or even just “got here as soon as you could,” you might think you’d pass this quiz with flying colors. We certainly did! Out of 11, eight of us were born and raised in Texas (and presumably completed the required 2 years of Texas history required by state education standards) and we’re proud of it!

But when Amanda passed out the quiz and gave us the thumbs up to begin answering the questions, some us looked puzzled immediately after the first question. I didn’t recall learning some of the information presented on the quiz in Texas History class. Or maybe I just missed the day we covered “famous Texan entertainers.” Needless to say, this is when I learned Carol Burnett is a native Texan, amongst many other things.

Texas Quiz!
Amanda calls out the questions.

With deep sadness in my Texas sized heart, I admit I didn’t do well on the quiz.

However, there’s always, always someone who has to get a perfect score and ruin the grading curve. That would be Vanessa Garcia from our group. She made a perfect 100. Now when I see her I call out, “Little Miss Perfect!”

Texas Quiz!
Vanessa holds up her perfect score!

But I learned that Texas has centuries of rich history I never knew about – even after living here for decades! Which made me wonder…how much do you know about Texas? We headed into the Grand Hall at the Museum to find out.

Can’t see the video? Click Here.

Very surprising results! Now – I challenge you to take our quiz to see how much you know!

Then, come to the Houston Museum of Natural Science to meet legendary Texas icons such as Stephen F. Austin, Sam Houston and Davy Crockett and bask in the glory of fascinating Texas artifacts, including the “Come and Take It” cannon; the Juneteenth Order; Battle Standard #4, the flag that flew over the decisive Battle of San Jacinto and Sam Houston’s report on the Battle, which includes the phrase “Remember the Alamo,” dated April 25, 1836.

Texas! The Exhibition opens Sunday March 6!

Rev. Butter Turns Up the Heat at Big Bite Nite April 29!

Simply put: I’m in awe of Reverend Butter of the DLG Ice Factory. In my opinion, no one can sculpt ice like this phenomenal rock star. And I don’t think I’m alone in my assessment. He was by far the best ice sculptor on TLC’s special episode, Chainsaw Ice Sculptors.

I first laid eyes on one of his sparkling pieces last year during our inaugural foodie event, Big Bite Nite. Our special events divas, Leslie and Nancy, asked him to do something big in honor of the occasion and as usual he didn’t disappoint. He sculpted our event logo.

Big Bite Nite at the Houston Museum of Natural Science

When I saw it, I was in a hypnotic state for quite a while and could not take my eyes off of it. Finally, I came to myself and moved to my assigned post for the night. I never forgot him and looked for a motive to get up close and personal with him to find out how he sculpts the ice.

A reason for you to meet Reverend Butter:

Right now, we’re in the planning stages of our second culinary affair and we’re literally turning up the heat. As in spicy! And, we’re starting with Reverend Butter.

This year, he’s returning to do something big and “spicy” not only for us, but for you as well.

On the night of the event, April 29, fire meets ice. Butter will be live onsite with his chainsaw to sculpt ice in harmony with some of his favorite musical tunes beginning at 5pm.

Caution: if you can’t stand the heat…well, you know the rest. As a precaution for what you’re in “store for,” pump up the volume and take a peek at this super hot video below.

See why Butter believes the ice sculpting business is a growing industry but a dying art. And watch him hand-sculpt a beautiful piece—no software needed—just the use of a powerful tool that he refers to as the extension of his hand.

Can’t see the video? Click here.

Check back soon for the rest of our video series spotlighting Big Bite Nite and the epic journey of food you will experience dished up by some of Houston’s most prestigious restaurants. Don’t miss it!

HMNS at Sugar Land: Transforming a prison into a museum

Picture 47
The building HMNS at Sugar Land
will occupy was built in 1939.

After the past six months, I’ve gained even more respect for our exhibits team at the Houston Museum of Natural Science. I’ve been fortunate enough to see first-hand exactly what it takes to develop a museum, formerly an old prison building built in 1939.

Like you, I usually see the exhibit when it is finished. And I have to admit, I never realized what challenging tasks the design and construction are. I thought it was like decorating your home or office. Okay, maybe not that simple, but a matter of knowing where you’re going to put things, and maybe knock out a wall or two—pa rum pum pum pum—you’re done.

frontviewSL
This photo was taken just a few months
before exhibit construction started

After going back and forth for a while now to visit the new museum in Sugar Land and seeing it in various stages of development, I’ve learned that designing a museum is more than dotting I’s and crossing T’s. Because of the lengthy process, my colleague Erin and I thought we could show you better than we could tell you, which is why we have been recording the entire process.

As a precursor to the opening, we thought we would show you an excerpt from the special video we are still currently producing. In this segment, you’ll meet Rodney Gentry, a senior designer for the Houston Museum of Natural Science. Gentry tells us what he thought about the historical building when he first laid eyes on it, as well as some of the obstacles the team faced when the museum was in its initial planning phase of development. Plus, you’ll see some past photographs of the prison back in its heyday and some photos of what it looked like when we first took a look at the space. Keep in mind, it was filmed at the beginning of this week, so the space is still transforming every day in preparation for the opening next Saturday.

It’s an experience I’ll never forget and one I hope you’ll always remember after you view the complete documentary. Stay tuned for our release date.

Until then, click here to watch a part of the video. Also, here is the history of the Central State Prison Farm, now the Houston Museum of Natural Science at Sugar Land.

Turn up the heat! Grupo Batacha at Mixers & Elixirs this Friday

It’s time to turn up the heat on the dinosaur dance floor again this week as Grupo Batacha brings the Cuban flavor to the Museum.

We talked to lead singer Oscar Larranaga from Grupo Batacha as he and his band prepare for one of the best salsa nights Mixers has seen yet! sonia-farr-2

What is the one thing that helps you bring energy to your performances?

If I had to pinpoint one thing it would be percussion: the Latin percussion. It always brings a lot of intensity.

What brought Grupo Batacha together?

That was ’97. We wanted to develop a Cuban flavored live band without any sequence music.

How do you prepare to play at Mixers?

We prepare 2 weeks before. We know there are a lot of people that follow us over to the museum. In the past we’ve has twelve to thirteen hundred people follow us over there. Before we start, we always talk about our performance and get pumped.

What was your first impression of the crowd at Mixers?

The people that come over there come to have a good time. They come to enjoy the music. It is a place to see and be seen. It is important for us to convey our message to the public. We are there to have fun and to see them. We are really pumped. It’s a good gig for the regular musician. It gives you an opportunity to play at a venue that is not so regular. Playing under the dinosaurs, now that’s something special!

There are only a few Mixers left this year! Don’t miss this sizzling night starting at 6 p.m. in the Volkswagen Lounge and the energy-filled performance following at 7 p.m.