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

On the Second Day of HMNS…shop for Sci-tastic Gifts

Our Museum Store has the city’s
best selection of dinosaur toys.

This holiday season, in a take-off of everyone’s favorite holiday classic, The 12 Days of Christmas (“fiiiiiiiiiive gol-den riiiiiiiings!”) we’ve got 12 full days of ideas for fantastic family fun this holiday season. (Of course, most of the ideas are things that are happening throughout the holiday season – or even year-round – we just think they’re perfect for that magical “What will we do today, family?” moment that pops up once school is out.)

On the second day of HMNS, we’ve got your gift-giving conundrum solved – with the slew of fabulous and creative gift options available at our Museum Stores.

Got a youngster on your list? Check out our unparalleled selection of dinosaur toys.

Jewelry lover? How about a necklace made from geode crystals?

Nature buff? Beautiful, preserved butterflies are sure to dazzle.

Tech-geek? Try our laser-cut home decorations.

In this video, HMNS Merchandise Manager Jennifer King walks you through our brand new, totally redesigned store and points out he best of what we have this holiday season. Best of all – all of the proceeds from our Museum Stores go to support educational programming at the Houston Museum of Natural Science. So, you can get something cool for everyone on your list – and feel great knowing that you’re helping to educate our next generation of scientists.

Learn more about The First Day of HMNS - the debut of The Birth of Christianity: A Jewish Story, a new special exhibition. And, check back daily – we’ve got 10 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.