About Melodie

Melodie is a Public Relations Consultant at HMNS.

HMNS@100 – Meet Irene Offeman

 The Downtown Public Library in 1922,
at the time the museum was housed here.

This year, the Houston Museum of Natural Science is one hundred years old. And, it got me to thinking, “What was Houston like when we got started?” Here’s a little taste of history: In 1909, President Taft had a procession down Main Street; W. W. Baldwin started a trolley line to connect Bellaire with Houston; the mayor was H. Baldwin Rice; and the museum was established as the Houston Museum and Scientific Society and was housed in the City of Houston’s public auditorium and at the downtown public library.

Now here we are—in 2009—celebrating a century of science. Through vigorous efforts, HMNS has grown to become one of the highest-attended museums in the United States with millions of people visiting each year from around the globe. And in honor of our 100th year, we thought it would be a great time to introduce you to some of our HMNS legends that have been instrumental in the museum’s growth and have seen the Museum blossom from a new organization welcoming visitors to an assortment of small exhibits, to an expansive multi-story science center.

Today, you’ll meet Irene Offeman. When she looks back during her 26 years of service at the museum, she can talk for hours and still have many more fascinating stories to tell. After leaving her home, I told my colleague Erin that Ms. Offeman is the epitome of what Phil Munsey describes as the meaning of “legacy” in his book, Legacy Now – that life is not just about how you live but what you leave behind.

Ms. Offeman left a concrete thumbprint on this amazing institution, including a detailed plan for a new paleontology hall which we’re in the process of developing today (the reason behind our current capital campaign). Ever since I met her, I have looked forward to sharing her story with you. Take a look at the video and let us know what you think – you can also see more stories at our Centennial web site.

VIDEO: Terra Cotta Warriors set to invade HMNS

I’ve been meaning to write this blog, it seems like, forever. I traveled to the city of Xi’an in China to see the Terra Cotta Warriors a couple of months ago and the experience was…Actually, I can’t quite put it into words, which is why it has taken me a while to share my story with you. The words I want to use are “enlightening;” “awesome;” “once-in-a-lifetime;” “amazing;” “breathtaking;” etc. But it was so much more than that.

 Me standing in Pit 1

Here I was standing in Pit 1 at the Terra Cotta Warrior Museum amidst thousands of life-size warriors dating to around 200 BC—one of the most sensational archeological finds of all time. How can I simply find the right words to describe this?

After walking into the Pit on my initial visit, I turned to my colleague, Lisa, and commented: “when I was growing up, never in my wildest dreams did I ever think I would be in China standing at this legendary site.” And, I must admit China was not on my Bucket List.  However, I advise you to add it to your list if you haven’t done so. It is estimated that more than two million people a year travel to Xi’an to view the famous clay warriors.

Because I can’t seem to find the appropriate words to describe how excited I am about the arrival of the special exhibition, Terra Cotta Warriors: Guardians of China’s First Emperor opening May 22, as well as explain to you just how grand this experience will be for visitors without gasping for air out of pure enthusiasm, I recruited our Curator of Anthropology, Dirk Van Tuerenhout, to share his thoughts. His commentary is mixed with video I captured during my trip.

Click on the play button below to hear his tale of the First Emperor and the Terra Cotta Warriors and what you can expect to see in this unprecedented show.

Has anyone ever visited China’s Terra Cotta Warrior Museum? If you can put your experience in words, please share your story with us.

Big Bite Nite Video: The Science of Food – Ice Cream!

bbnlogoSome things we were just born to do. And, I believe one of the many reasons I was created is to eat at fine dining restaurants. There’s nothing more engaging than the ambiance and personality specific to that particular restaurant – often overflowing with charm, extraordinary music and a special menu focusing on fresh, seasonal ingredients locally grown.  What I anticipate the most, while dining at these specialty eateries, is the dessert menu – which often includes homemade sorbets or ice cream made especially for me by the Pastry Chef.

Between you and me, I figure I’ve had the very best. That is until I discovered Quattro’s Executive Pastry Chef Philippe Valladares’ vanilla bean ice cream.

 Quattro’s Executive Pastry
Chef Philippe Valladares
Creative Commons LicensePhoto Credit:
debora smail reality photography

Let me backup a bit. I have my own personal Best of the Best list for food—we all do. However, on my list “The best place to eat ice cream” category was taken and has been for a couple of years now. In a matter of an hour, Philippe easily captured the honors. See why in part two of our Science of Food video series by clicking play on the video below. Plus, meet Philippe in person at Big Bite Nite at the Houston Museum of Natural Science, April 30. You will adore what he has prepared especially for you.

Who’s your favorite Pastry Chef in Houston? Let us know.

P.S. Have you entered the “Show Us You Biggest Bite” Photo Contest yet? (There are great prizes at stake!) I got my Biggest Bite at Quattro while we filmed this video – where will you get yours?

Want to make your own homemade ice cream? Kat Havens teaches you how.
And, you can try your hand at Philippe’s recipe for Vanilla Bean Ice Cream with the recipe on our web site.

And in case you missed it: check out the first Science of Food video, “Butter Living Through Chemistry” with Polo Becerra, Culinary Director, and Adam Puskorius, Executive Chef, of Polo’s Signature.  

Big Bite Nite Video Series: The Science of Food

Fine dining is not new to the Houston Museum of Natural Science. From our Cultural Feasts to our annual Gala and many other events hosted here throughout the year, it’s all in our nature.

Now, we’re starting something new for culinary explorers — Big Bite Nite. This April 30, experience Houston’s most prominent restaurants; meet some of the city’s top chefs; and explore the intricacies of cuisine from our spotlight country: China (we’re getting excited about our upcoming blockbuster exhibition, Terra Cotta Warriors). Restaurants include Polo’s Signature, Post Oak Grill; 17 Restaurant, The Capital Grille; The Grove; Monarch; Quattro; Ruggles Green; Morton’s, The Steakhouse; YAO Restaurant and Bar; and many more. 

Inspired by the mouth-watering smorgasbord set to spring up at the Museum April 30, we thought it would be fun to give you a taste of what you will experience at this special event, with (naturally) a science twist.

So, we did what we often do. Erin and I packed up our video camera and asked a few of the chefs whom you will see at Big Bite Nite to give us a rare behind the scenes look in their kitchen as they experiment with their delectable creations.

After all, food is a science. And no one knows this better than our very own Kat Havens. After reviewing the menu from Polo’s Signature, our first stop, she had the brilliant idea to make butter. The steps aren’t complicated – as you will see in the video – but the science that goes into this simple condiment is amazing! Afterwards, she asked Polo Becerra, Culinary Director, and Adam Puskorius, Executive Chef, to create a dish using the butter she produced. See what they cooked up for us by clicking below (press the red HQ button for the highest quality version).