Family time & me time: Have the best of both at HMNS this holiday season

It’s the holiday season – full of food, festivities and family. Sure, you look forward to this month year-round, but that doesn’t mean you won’t get sick of it. Conversations start to get stale, your mother (or worse – mother-in-law) won’t let you stop stuffing your face, and you begin to worry that none of your pants will fit anymore.

This is enough to make some shout, “Bah humbug!” at every passerby, but it needn’t be so! All you need is some way to divert your family’s attention away from your new piercing, lack of promotion, the boyfriend or girlfriend that they loathe, or whatever childhood embarrassment they still insist on using to regale holiday guests (or worse yet, reenact).

What better way than an outing to the Houston Museum of Natural Science! Not only is this the perfect excuse to get out of the house, but with all of our exhibition halls, there are plenty of places to ditch your family — if only for a short while.

THE MORIAN HALL OF PALEONTOLOGY

The stunning views of fossilized dinosaurs, giant sloths, woolly mammoths and more will buy you just enough time to slip over to the John P. and Katherine McGovern Jurassic Bark Gallery (in a separate room towards the back, on the left). Here you will find sanctuary amongst the remains of a petrified forest – clearly terrified of your family too.

You might also head up to the Morian Overlook. Just as your family’s entering the hall, slip back out, and take the elevator up to the second floor. Be careful they don’t see you, because from here, you can take in the whole hall from above.

THE HALL OF ANCIENT EGYPT

There’s a lot to see in this hall. Rush to the back as you enter while the fam plods along. Here you’ll find the mummies and sarcophagi. And we have great, dim mood lighting – which means you could totally lay out on one of the benches, and people will just think you’re another exhibit! Chill here for a while until your family catches up.

THE COCKRELL BUTTERFLY CENTER

A Rainforest, butterflies, an iguana – let your clan to take it all in while you scope out your next spot.

As you enter the Rain Forest Conservatory, head all the way to the bottom level – into the cave. You can remain unseen from above and chill with all the cool butterflies that are trying to be as exclusive as you.

If you enter the Hall of Entmology from here you’ll be right by the “Land of BEEyond.” Please understand that this area is meant for children, so let them play in peace if they get there first – but after all, you’re a kid at heart, right? Why not chill here? You might even get to meet the queen bee.
THE MINERAL HALL AND SMITH GEM VAULT

This hall is lit perfectly to enhance the natural beauty of the minerals and gems on display — and also perfect lighting for a quick escape from your tribe. Walk briskly, and stick close to the wall on the left. As you round the corner, you’ll come up on the Smith Gem Vault, which, if you’re wearing dark colors, makes you nearly invisible. The only light in this room is focused on the perfectly carved diamonds and other jewels on display. It seriously looks like they’re emitting light themselves.

Hang out here for a while, and if you do it right, you can slip back into the mineral hall as the fam goes in the gem vault. You just bought yourself another 20 minutes of freedom!

Other options for some solace in the Museum:

Wortham Giant Screen Theatre: They won’t be able talk to you in here!
Burke Baker Planetarium: With the added feature of looking up, idle chit-chat is discouraged
The Museum Store: Nothing takes the edge off quite like a bit of retail therapy

Preview: Disney’s A Christmas Carol [12 Days of HMNS]

Bah, HUMBUG! Today is the Third Day of HMNS! In the spirit of the classic holiday carol, we’re taking 12 days to feature 12 different videos that preview or go behind-the-scenes of a holiday museum activity, here on the blog (or, you can get a sneak peek at all the videos on 12days.hmns.org – we won’t tell).

For our third video, preview Charles Dickens’ timeless tale – A Christmas Carol, stunningly reimagined by Disney. Then come to the Museum to experience it as never before – six stories high at the Wortham IMAX Theatre. (Plus, tickets include admission to the Museum’s permanent exhibits!)

Disney’s A Christmas Carol captures the fantastical essence of this classic in a groundbreaking motion picture event. Ebenezer Scrooge, played by Jim Carrey, begins the Christmas holiday with his usual miserly contempt. But when the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Yet to Come take him on an eye-opening journey, he must open his heart before it’s too late.

Click play to preview this immersive movie adventure, now showing in the Wortham IMAX Theatre!

Happy Holidays!

Need to catch up?
The First Day of HMNS – Explore: Snow Science
The Second Day of HMNS – Preview: The Chronicles of Narnia Exhibition

Get into the holiday spirit! Visit our 12 Days of HMNS web site to see the videos and get more information about each event, exhibit and film: 12days.hmns.org

Happy Holidays!

On the Third Day of HMNS…meet Prancer!

There’s always a lot happening at the Houston Museum of Natural Science – especially during the holiday season. We’ve put together 12 ideas for fabulous family fun for you, which we’re sharing here every day until Christmas Eve. You can also check them all out now at the spiffy new 12 Days of HMNS web site.

The Third Day of HMNS has passed – but you can still meet our reindeer friend Prancer in the video below, and learn about his species in the fabulous facts under the video - as well as help us count down the 357 days until next years’ Snow Flurry!

Santa’s Reindeer Facts:

The name “reindeer” comes from a word meaning “snow-shoveler,” referring to their habit of pawing through the snow for food.

Santa’s reindeer are all female – male reindeer lose their horns every year.

Reindeer love snow so much they prefer to eat it than drink water.

You could also call them “Santa’s Caribou” – reindeer and caribou are the same species.

The impressive antlers sported by reindeer can grow up to an inch per day – making them the fastest growing tissue in the animal kingdom.

Santa got the idea for sleigh-pulling reindeer from the nomadic Saami people of northern Scandinavia – they’ve been using reindeer to pull sleighs there for over 5,000 years. 

Santa’s Reindeer are well-suited for their life at the North Pole – their sense of smell is so good that they can detect food buried three feet under the snow, and their fur is so thick that they can withstand temperatures 80 degrees below zero.

Learn more about The First Day of HMNS - the debut of The Birth of Christianity: A Jewish Story, a new special exhibition and The Second Day of HMNS – a great place to buy fun holiday gifts. And, check back daily – we’ve got 9 more days coming up, with great ideas for family fun this holiday season. You can also check them all out now, at our spiffy new 12 Days of HMNS web site – or watch them roll out here until Christmas Eve.