What You Might Have Missed – Member Events

By Kim Vera, HMNS Membership Copywriter


In August and September we had plenty events to help ease your summer blues and celebrate the beginning of the fall season. Here’s a recap in case you missed out. And be on the lookout for your HMNS weekly newsletter because we are planning a lot of exciting events in the coming months.


Members Night at the George Observatory | Friday, Aug. 5

After being closed due to flooding in Brazos Bend State Park, we were finally able to head back out and enjoy a night of stargazing with snacks, kids’ activities and lots of telescopes for viewing celestial marvels in the night sky.


Sugar Land – Block Party, Too! Members’ Event| Friday, Aug. 12


Members enjoyed an evening of tower building, food, and fun during our members-only event for Block Party, Too! Families were able to roam about the Museum, taking a break every now and then to grab a bite to eat or snack on dessert under a giant Tyrannosaurus rex.


2nd Saturdays for Members | Saturday, Aug. 13 and Sept. 10


During 2nd Saturdays, Members can experience the Museum an hour before the crowds arrive. Tours were available for our Out of the Amazon: Life on the River exhibit and the Morian Hall of Paleontology. For breakfast, Doughmaker Doughnuts served gourmet donuts, a favorite being the French toast, perfectly drenched in maple syrup and powdered sugar. 2nd Saturday is the perfect wakeup call for Members and their little ones. The next 2nd Saturday is on Nov. 12th – and don’t forget your kid’s pass for an extra prize!


World Trekkers: South Korea| Friday, Aug. 26



Passports were stamped, snacks were sampled, and faces were painted! Members were whisked away on a journey to South Korea where students from dojang K-Taekwondo performed demonstrations for the crowds and displayed acts of strength, precision and discipline. After their demonstrations, children has the opportunity to test their own skills with one-on-one training exercises with students from the school. World Trekkers also featured balloon artists and face painters who transformed children into their favorite animals and superheroes and samplings of roasted seaweed, shrimp chips and a chocolate-dipped pretzel stick called Pepero. Travel with us for our last Trekkers of the year as we head off to Ireland in November! See the world with HMNS and don’t forget your World Trekkers passport!


Members First! Bill of Rights: Amending America. | Friday, Sept. 1


In September, HMNS Members enjoyed a brand new benefit, Members First, which gave an in-depth look at the Bill of Rights before the exhibit opened to the public. As a Museum bonus, a historical reenactor was stationed in the Alfred C. Glassell, Jr. Hall giving Members an insight on our humble beginnings in pursuing life, liberty, and happiness.


An Evening with the Owls- Members Events| Monday – Wednesday, Sept. 12 – 14


An Evening with the Owls allowed Members to witness owl butterflies up close in the evening when they were most active. In addition to insect owls, special guests from Wild Life Center of Texas and Sky Kings Falconry introduced guests to feathered owls, including a great horned owl, a tiny screech owl and a beautiful barn owl. Charro, our resident green iguana, even made an appearance at the event to meet and greet guests and eat some snacks provided by staff of the Cockrell Butterfly Center.


HMNS Catalysts: An Evening with the Owls | Thursday, Sept. 15


paperSwarms of owl butterflies fluttered through the air in the Cockrell Butterfly Center as HMNS Catalysts Members attempted to capture pictures of the winged beauties while they landed from head to head in the crowd. Members were greeted that evening with an open bar and the aroma of mouthwatering roasted Berkshire pork loin sliders, crudité of asparagus, and assorted cheeses and olives. Special themed crafts were also available where guests could make their very own butterfly origami and pom pom bugs with googly eyes. Members also got to experience entomophagy – consuming bugs as a source of food – by sampling bowls of chocolate-coated array of insects and crickets and larvets flavored with sour cream and onion, BBQ, and cheddar seasonings.

Mummies of the World: The Exhibition – Members First Viewing and Members Exclusive Event | Friday, Sept. 23

Mummies of the World: The Exhibition opened with Members First, which allowed members the opportunity to experience this fascinating exhibition before it opened to the public. In the evening, we held our exclusive Members’ event that featured children’s craft tables, a fun photo booth, and a tasty menu of chicken tagine and dulce de leche brownies drizzled in caramel. Once inside the exhibit, HMNS docents enhanced the exhibit experience by providing deeper insights into the process of natural and man-made mummification.

We hope you had as much fun at the members’ events as we did! And check our website often because we will be adding new events soon.

FAQs with a Frequent Flyer Museum Member

Some of my earliest memories are of the Houston Museum of Natural Science, thanks in large part to my parents. When I was young, I didn’t go to daycare or preschool; I went to work with my mom every day, and every day at lunchtime, we went to the Museum. With just one visit per year (or, you know, like 200), our HMNS Membership was paid off, and, by age 3, I was hooked.

As an Ecoteen, I got to work with various objects and artifacts, including Leonardo, the Brachylophasaurus mummy currently on display in the Morian Hall of Paleontology.

As an Ecoteen, I got to work with various objects and artifacts, including a cast of Leonardo, the Brachylophasaurus mummy currently on display in the Morian Hall of Paleontology.

I was a summer camper at age 6, a Moran Ecoteen volunteer at age 15, an Xplorations summer camp employee at age 19 and, finally, a full-time employee at age 22. The Museum is almost a part of my identity at this point. One of my first purchases when I returned home as a college graduate was a Catalysts Individual Membership.

Over the years, I’ve fielded many questions from friends, family and visitors to an Outreach program I may be presenting about trips to HMNS, and I wanted to share some of those questions and answers with you all here!

“The Science Museum is too advanced for little kids, right?”

My young cousins love the Morian Overlook at the Morian Hall of Paleontology.

My young cousins love the Morian Overlook at the Morian Hall of Paleontology.

My young cousins love the Morian Overlook at the Morian Hall of Paleontology.
I’m the oldest of my generation in my family by a long shot; next in age is my younger brother, who is six years behind. But I started coming to the Museum before I had made any lasting memories, and, even today, my young cousins all enjoy HMNS their own way. True, HMNS is full of advanced science topics; if the only thing you were going to do is read the scientific names of dinosaurs and gemstones, a small child could get bored easily. But, as my coworker Allison puts it, there is so much to learn by just experiencing the trip to the museum. With her young son, she asks questions about size, shape and color, such as, “Which of these two dinosaurs is bigger?” or “can you name that animal?” or “What color is that gemstone?” The Museum exhibit halls are basically a giant three-dimensional learning tool and picture book!

“There’s so much to see, it just doesn’t seem like a good value.”

There is definitely a lot to see, but that just means repeat visits are necessary!

There is definitely a lot to see, but that just means repeat visits are necessary!

There is definitely a lot to see, but that just means repeat visits are necessary!
An HMNS Membership is the best value around. Coworker Allison from above saved $714 in a year full of Museum visits with her family! A Membership can pay for itself in just one visit, thanks to FREE access to the permanent exhibit halls all year as well as discounts on special exhibits, venues like the Cockrell Butterfly Center, souvenirs in the Museum Store and much more! And this way, you can come back as often as you want in case you miss something the first time around.

“I don’t have kids, so is there anything for me to really do there?”

HMNS Catalysts events are always a ton of fun!

HMNS Catalysts events are always a ton of fun!

YES! HMNS isn’t just for families. With stunning exhibits and a constantly cycling series of special exhibitions, there is always something exciting to see at the Museum for all ages. For the young professionals in town, it doesn’t get much better than the HMNS Catalysts group. The Catalysts Membership I purchased was one of the best decisions I’ve made in my post-grad life. This Membership includes four young professional parties at the Museum each year as well as FREE tickets to Mixers & Elixirs, on top of the benefits afforded to basic Members. It’s perfect for the 20’s and 30’s crowd in Houston!

“It can get pretty crowded on weekends! Any tips on how to make the Museum visit easier for all of us?”

I could write a book on insider tips to visiting the Museum, or I could direct you to the HMNS Members Welcome page! There are a bunch of great tips in the bullet points under the video, and I highly recommend watching the video to make the most of your Membership. A few of those bullet points I want to specifically mention:

  • Come to the Museum early in the day. Most crowds will come around lunchtime or in the afternoon. If you can get to the Museum before 10 a.m., you should be in great shape to find parking and explore before the rush later.
  • Take a tour with a Discovery Guide! Our Discovery Guide tour team is world-class, befitting an institution of this caliber, and they add an entirely new level to the visitor experience. My five-year-old cousin still asks if “Jurassic James” is free to give her a tour every time she visits.
  • If anyone in your family has special needs, please visit the Accessibility section of our website ahead of time. Our new accessibility guides and resources are extremely useful for planning your day as a family before your visit.
  • If things get a little hectic, head to the lower level of the Museum. It’s usually pretty quiet, and you can try to find one of the best-kept secrets of HMNS, the animal alcove. You can even look through the glass at some venomous snakes!
  • Buy a Membership! The visitor experience is vastly improved, and you will not be disappointed. It’s really quite the deal!

If you have any more specific questions you’d like to ask, feel free to contact us at (713) 639-4629 or email webmaster@hmns.org and it will get to the appropriate party. I hope to see you here soon!

My year of Museum Membership with a Young child

I’ve been a Houston Museum of Natural Science Member for a long time, a very long time—in fact, I started as a summer camper and field trip student way back in the 1980’s when the Museum was half its current size and still the most amazing place in the world to me. I’m so privileged to work here and enjoy the treasures we display here on a daily basis. The most amazing thing for me now is to bring my three-year-old son here and experience the Museum through his eyes.

I tallied the pricing for all of our activities and compared it to the public pricing at the end of this blog—you simply won’t believe the value of an HMNS Membership! Even I was surprised at our savings!

So here is a snapshot of our last 14 months at the Museum—and the very best thing is no matter what, we are guaranteed a nap on the way home after we leave!

April 2015 – We visited the Cockrell Butterfly Center and Brown Hall of Entomology. We followed the trip to see the butterflies and insects with a look at the garden outside of the center and the amazing kugel ball that the bigger kids shoved easily but was pretty tough for a little guy. (Member total $8, Public total $17)

image 1 April 2015
May 2015 – We started with a trip to see the dinosaurs in the Morian Hall of Paleontology, followed by animals in the Farish Hall of Texas Wildlife. The picture panels really helped us identify what we were looking at in the wildlife hall! (Member total $0, Public total $65)

image 2 May 2015
June 2015 –We went back to see the dinosaurs in the Morian Hall of Paleontology, and then took a quick trip through the Cullen Hall of Gems and Minerals before lunchtime. I think our favorite item was the large amethyst – it looked like a little house to our boy. (Member total $0, Public total $65)

image 3 June 2015

July 2015Shark! A $5 experience where we got to see a giant shark model and touch a live shark! Our friends who were visiting with us were willing, but my son preferred to watch the shark instead. We took another trip to say a quick hello to the big dinosaurs before stopping to watch the Herzstein Foucault Pendulum, which is a lot more entertaining than you’d think for a young child – easily 30 minutes if I don’t say “let’s go!” (Member total $15, Public total $80)

image 5 July 2015

August 2015Hamman Hall of Coastal Ecology and a trip up the “Spiral Mountain” at the Centennial Gardens across the street. (Member total $0, Public total $65)

image 6 August 2015 centenial
September 2015 – I invited my niece to meet us at the Cockrell Butterfly Center. In the kids’ area of the center, the kids had so much fun playing the pollinator game and “feeding the flowers” blocks of the correct shape. We also had to visit the dinosaurs! (Member total $12, Public total $91)

image 7 September 2015
October 2015 – With Halloween approaching, we wanted to see skeletons and some bugs, so we headed to the Morian Hall of Paleontology to see the trilobites and dinosaurs. We also paid a visit to the live animal room window in the basement of the Museum where the Youth Education programming animals are cared for. The animal room window is available for viewing to all visitors with general Museum admission and features several tanks on display, including some containing the more dangerous animals. For identification, there are cards with information about the different animals, and sometimes you can sneak a peak of the caretakers for a “behind the scenes” feel. (Member total $0, Public total $65)

image 8 October 2015

November 2015 – After weeks of *practicing* building at home with our blocks, we were ready to check out Block Party at the Museum. This was a great activity when school was out for the Thanksgiving holiday. Unlimited building for a $5 add on for builders – yes please! (Member total $15, Public total $80)

image 9 November 2015

December 2015 – Seeing the holiday trees and building in Block Party was a great way to catch up over the holidays with the friends we missed from the school’s playground. We met at 9 a.m. by the holiday trees to check out the decorations before the crowds arrived. I also made a point of stopping to buy two gift Memberships for some folks I knew who would love spending some time at HMNS—plus I got two BONUS months (one for each gift) added to my Membership! (Member total $15, Public total $80)

image 10 December 2015
January 2016 – This visit happened fall on the day of the annual Educator Event at HMNS. The Educator Event is for teachers, but there are always extra activities going on in the Grand Hall. As we walked in, I was even able to grab a few bits of information that I thought my son’s school would be interested in. Afterwards, we visited the “vintage” Texas wildlife dioramas in the lower level and said a quick hello to our live friends in the animal room window. We then headed to the Welch Chemistry Hall to take the slime polymers for a spin. Our trip was capped off with a mini-safari through the Frensley/Graham Hall of African Wildlife. We loved finding the butterflies in the cases with the big African animals! (Member total $0, Public total $65)

image 11 January 2016
February 2016 – We visited twice in February to attend two events that we wanted to check out. Girls Exploring Math and Science is an amazing event for kids and adults (both girls AND boys). The Grand Hall is lined with community partners offering a variety of hands-on activities. Students also presented science and math concepts at their own booths, and it was really fun to see how they were able to engage my three-year-old and explain topics like magnetism, plant growth and circuits. They even demonstrated a working robot! I think the highlight of the day was the live demonstration in the Welch Chemistry Hall—I got such a kick out of watching the reactions on the faces of the audience—kids and adults are always surprised by fire and super cold liquid nitrogen!

image 12a February 2016 On February 26, we returned for World Trekkers: Peru, an early evening family event exclusively for Members. The Peruvian dancers were fun to watch, and we even learned a few words in Spanish! (GEMS is free with admission and World Trekkers is $7 per person, so for two visits, the Member total $14, Public total $401)

March 2016HMNS After Dark (extended hours until 9 p.m.) was the perfect opportunity to invite grandparents for a special grandson-led tour of the Museum. Without the daytime crowds, our guests had a chance to take their time and see the things that their grandson was excited to share with them. My son led us through paleontology and the Texas and African Wildlife halls, and everyone also enjoyed the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibit. It was especially exciting to see that some of those amazing photos were taken by kids age 10 and under – and now their work is displayed in a museum! The highlight of the evening was racing coins in the coin vortex in the Grand Hall—it’s fun AND it’s a donation that supports the Museum’s educational programming. Put that spare change to work! (Member total $0, Public total $65)

image 13 March 2016

April 2016Wildlife Photographer of the Year was an incredible display of award-winning photographs from the 2015 international contest of wildlife photographers, organized by the Natural History Museum in London. We stopped by these photos again because my son was so excited to name all of the animals that we’d seen on our last visit. And of course we made a trip to see our favorite dinosaurs and wildlife in the Morian Hall of Paleontology and the Farish Hall of Texas Wildlife. (Member total $0, Public total $65)

image 14 April 2016

May 2016 – At HMNS After Dark in May, we visited the new exhibition, Cabinet of Curiosities. My son absolutely loves the exhibit because he can open the drawers and even reach out and touch the objects (gently with a Museum “two-finger touch,” of course). The exhibit is a great opportunity to explore with children, and because there are no labels, parents have to get creative and start a dialog with kids about what you *think* something is. Often volunteers are available to answer questions but with THOUSANDS of objects it’s tough to know everything! (Member total $0, Public total $65)

image 15 May 2016
Fourteen months of Museum fun with my son cost me a total of $79 for tickets on top of my $115 Membership for a grand total of $194. The same experiences for visitors at the public rate would total $908! That’s a savings of $714!

Learn more about Membership online, or purchase a Family Membership today in our online store!

1The Public total in February does not include any cost for World Trekkers because this event is a Members’ Only exclusive event.


Members…And Monsters! [The Prehistoric Kind]

This summer is still swinging (17 straight days of 100+ temps make that fact hard to forget) – but we’re already looking forward to summer 2012!

Why? Because that’s when our new paleontology hall opens!

To get ready, we previewed the new hall this summer with a series of member events – each one featured a different dinosaur that will take up residence in the new wing next year.

Shark Week at HMNS: Megalodon!
Associate Curator of Paleontology David Temple shows an HMNS volunteer
around our 10-foot Megalodon jaw on display to celebrate Shark Week!
The jaw will be part of the new Paleontology Hall, opening Summer 2012!
Prehistoric Monsters: Mosasaur! [July 16, 2011]
Members who attended our Prehistoric Monsters series of events
this summer had the opportunity to talk dinosaurs with our curator of Paleontology, Dr. Bob Bakker!
Prehistoric Monsters: Mosasaur! [July 16, 2011]
Meet the Mosasaur! This prehistoric sea monster will be on display in the new paleontology hall!
Prehistoric Monsters: Quetzalcoatlus [6.11]
Kids dig for – and identify! – fossils!

We want to say a huge THANK YOU to all our new and existing members who joined or renewed this summer – your support is vital to our expansion project, and will enrich science education in the Houston community for decades to come.

If you visited our photo booth during one of our Prehistoric Monster events, find your photos here!

If you’re not yet a member – what are you waiting for?

Members will be the very first to experience the new paleontology hall when it opens next year – and if you join or renew now, you’ll get 3 additional months of membership free! Plus, there are still several great summer member events coming up!