Travel through time with HMNS collections on Google Arts & Culture

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We’re proud to announce that HMNS and some of the most loved natural history institutions in the world have partnered with Google to bring you a new online experience! This new online exhibition is available on g.co/naturalhistory and allows people to come face to face with Jurassic Giants and browse through the most spectacular collection of natural history available in one place!

The new collection uses state of the art technology to give a new virtual life to extinct animals and tell fascinating stories about our planet’s evolution over billions of years. Viewers come face-to-face with Jurassic giants in 360 degree videos, giving a better sense of how these animals lived, and what it might have felt like to be in their presence. 

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For this exhibition, HMNS and natural history institutions from 15 countries created over a hundred interactive stories, sharing a total of 300 000 photos, videos and other documents online in collaboration with Google. The latest innovations in tech help bring the magic of these legendary venues to life, and give everyone a chance to reconnect with our evolution story and our planet environment in all its richness.

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The new online exhibition opens today at g.co/naturalhistory and is open for all online, for free on the web and through the new Google Arts & Culture mobile app on iOS and Android. You can watch all the 360 degree videos on YouTube.

Start exploring!

Archie the Wandering T-Rex Celebrates his Birthday

Guess what guys, it’s my birthday and I got to celebrate it at Disney World! A year ago I was officially adopted by my HMNS family and since then have had the greatest year of my life! This past year has been full of adventure, fun, and new experiences as I have had the opportunity to travel to amazing new places and try new things. When I was first adopted, I thought I was one lucky dinosaur, but I had no idea how lucky I really got. I belong to the greatest, most amazing family! From trips abroad to Europe and the Middle East, to exploring the beauty of our National Parks here at home, immersing myself into life at the museum, and celebrating my birthday in the most magical place on earth, my new family has literally shown me the world.

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On my very first adventure I crossed the pond and rambled around London a while before taking the Chunnel to Paris. The sites were amazing! I also spent an amazing week in Germany visiting excavation sites with our Adult Education program (sorry, too busy exploring for photos!).

archie big ben

archie eiffel tower

I then jotted off to attend with the 2016 Special Events Conference in Orlando, Florida where I learned all about the newest and most popular trends for the year. I was super excited to hear that one of the colors of the year was Serenity Blue! What do you think, do you think I resemble a certain color of the year? Immediately after the conference I rushed off to Saudi Arabia where I had the chance to train an awesome group of people on what we do in the museum and how we do it! King of the lab! (shhh, let’s keep that between us)

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archie theater

This year we also celebrated the 100 year birthday of our national parks with our new Giant Screen Theater movie, National Parks Adventure 3D. After watching this incredible film, I got inspired to check out a few of our parks myself! I started with visiting Big Bend National Park and checking out the cool local fossils. I then flew up to Maine to explore Acadia National Park and saw my first lighthouse! A little later in the year I decided to really go for it and strapped in for a road trip spanning 3 states and 8 more national parks!

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 While traveling has been amazing, there is so much to see and do right here at home at the Houston Museum of Natural Science. I have spent time with our awesome group of volunteers learning all sort of fascinating information spanning from mummies to gemstones! I even checked out our Cockrell Butterfly Center and got up close and personal with a moon moth.

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This has been an absolutely amazing year, and I can’t wait to get started on the next! Who knows where I will go and what I will learn next. There’s still so many exhibits here at home I haven’t explored yet, and I can’t wait to get started.

If you would like adopt your own dinosaur friend to join you on your amazing adventures, you can visit our store where Archie’s friends live.

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!

Meet Our Exclusive Event Caterers: French Gourmet Bakery

Interview by Ashley Zalta, HMNS Special Events Manager

Everyone always says the secret ingredients to the best recipes is the love put into them. We dove a little deeper into one of our exclusive caterers French Gourmet Bakery, to see what makes their family run business so delicious. Check out their suggestions for your next visit.

FGBHMNS: Who makes up your family French Gourmet Bakery Team?
Patrice Ramain- Our Pastry Chef
Mary Ramain-Operations Director
Lauren Ramain Montgomery-General Manager

HMNS: When did FGB open?
We opened in 1973 in the West Gray shopping center.

HMNS: How did you get the idea to start FGB?
My father, Patrice Ramain, studied to be a pastry chef in France and obtained his masters in pastries and baking bread from the Grand Moulin de Paris. He was recruited by a bakery owner here in Houston. Shortly after, he met my mother, Mary Ramain, and they decided to open their own bakery, in 1973.

HMNS: What is each of your favorite items?
Patrice-Almond Croissant
Mary- Eclairs
Lauren- Ebony & Ivory mousse cake

HMNS: Do you make your breads and pastries each day?
Yes, we bake all of our products fresh daily

HMNS: How early do you have to arrive to start making them?
Our baker arrives at 3am

What is the hardest item to make?
Mousse cakes

HMNS: What is your most popular breakfast item?
Ham & Swiss Croissants or Cinnamon Pecan Rolls

HMNS: What is your most popular sandwich?
Chicken Salad (house-made) sandwich on Croissant

HMNS: What is your most popular dessert?
Chocolate Thumbprint, our signature cookie

HMNS: What item should people try that they probably haven’t?
Quiche- we make Ham & Swiss, Spinach & Swiss or Bacon & Swiss

HMNS: What makes your bakery unique from others?
I would say our authentic French products and commitment to great customer service. We use only the highest quality ingredients, we make everything from scratch and bake fresh daily.

HMNS: What types of events can you cater?
Corporate Meetings, Service Awards, Launch Parties, Bridal & Baby Showers, Birthday Parties Anniversaries, etc.

HMNS: Anything else you would like people to know about your bakery?
We offer a nice variety of both American and French style baked goods

Let us make your next event truly unforgettable—from sophisticated and dramatic to out-of-this-world, our distinctive venues offer beautiful settings beyond compare. Learn more at rentthemuseum.org