Museum reviews (Perot and MSH in FW) plus why you should get a premium level science museum membership

We played our reciprocal museum membership card and took the fam to the Perot Museum and the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History for spring break. Regular admission would have been $102 for the four of us ($15 per adult at each museum and $10 per kid at the Perot and $11 per kid at MSH), so that Thinkery Premium membership proves its value once again. (We visited the NASA Air and Space Museum in Huntsville, AL over Thanksgiving Break, saving $70.) That membership has more than paid for itself, even if we never use it locally (which we do and will!). I actually think we’ll make it to each of these museums again over the summer (my sister lives in Huntsville) and also to the Witte in San Antonio.

First, you should know that visiting a museum during spring break is not the best time. The crowds were CRAZY! That hindered the fun and how long we explored, but we still had a great visit at both museums.

At the Perot, you have to check in (at the box office for reciprocal members. Others can do this online.) to get a ticket for a certain entry time, every half hour. We arrived a bit before 10 and were assigned the 10:30 entry. By noon, all entry times through 5 pm were sold out, though. If you have a half hour or even hour to kill before your entry time, you can visit the outdoor play areas — a life-sized Leap Frog park and a musical park — or stop by the museum gift shop. They also had some volunteers showcasing some hands-on science activities in the lobby the day we were there, and I assume that’s something there on busy days.

IMG_5171 IMG_5175

Once inside, visitors are encouraged to start at the top, taking the escalator to the top floor and then working the way down. The escalator lets you off and the second to top floor. Don’t miss taking the stairs or elevator up to the Hall of Birds. At first, I thought, Hall of Birds — how exciting. It was really cool and interactive, though. Kids can design their own bird, choosing body type and wing design and beak. They can also soar as a virtual eagle, moving their bodies and seeing the birds’ eye view of their flight. From there, we visited the Life Then and Now exhibit of dinosaurs and fossils, some found in North Texas. Scattered throughout the exhibits were hands-on demonstrations from volunteers. The girls go to hold meteorites and dinosaur jawbones. We also waited in a bit of a line in the Energy Hall to be (virtually) shrunk and sent down into the earth to see how horizontal drilling works. Our favorite of all halls, though, was the TI Engineering and Innovation Hall. The girls each got to drive a remote control robot, and Caroline got to program one. It was crowded with lines for every center, but with all the hands-on activities there, we’ll definitely go back and spend more time. Elizabeth spent a little time in the five-and-under children’s museum while Caroline programmed her robot. Typical children’s museum stuff — water play area, grocery store, lots of hands-on stuff, but the highlight was a cool indoor playscape model of downtown Dallas. Even if you don’t visit the children’s museum, take the stairs down to it — they’re magically musical! We spent about four hours there and didn’t come close to seeing everything.

IMG_5208

The Fort Worth Museum was an unplanned visit, but we’re so glad we stopped! The girls both enjoyed the outdoor children’s museum play area with life-sized tinker toys and a water play area. They also enjoyed the outdoor dinosaur pit where they dug for fossils. It’s much smaller than the Perot, but there’s still lots of hands-on activities for the kids. We got to see a Planetarium show with our reciprocal tickets, too. The temporary Wizard of Oz exhibit was cute with some activities for younger kids but most just right for my five and eight year olds. Some cool hands-on wind-related activities just outside of the Wizard of Oz exhibit may have been temporary, but they were fun. The girls enjoyed building different paper flyers and testing them in the wind tunnels. Of course, since it’s Texas, there’s an Energy exhibit where I learned a few things myself in the 4D movie. We were there less than four hours, including the Planetarium movie and saw pretty much everything.

My love for museums is similar to my love for libraries, but visiting museums can get pricey. We probably would have visited one museum on our spring break trip regardless, but the ASTC Passport Program made it possible to see both. Now, if only the Mayborn in Waco would join the program, we’d visit there more than once a year, too!