Museum of Natural History and Science – Albuquerque, NM

I think most people who know me would agree that I can be a total nerd (in the best way!) sometimes, but I think almost anyone would agree that the Museum of Natural History and Science in Albuquerque is one of the coolest museums for all ages.

Located near Old Town near several other museums and parks, the building itself is quite large and imposing, but the inside is like a Wonderland.  Honestly, I wasn’t sure what to expect from the exhibits, if it would be like every other museum of it’s type or not, but I couldn’t have been more pleasantly surprised.

The museum is home to one of the coolest and largest dinosaur exhibits I have ever seen.  Although movies like Jurassic Park emphasize the Badlands of South Dakota as as the fossil-finding rich site (which it is), New Mexico is apparently quite the archaeology haven as well.  There have been several species of dinosaur whose fossils have only been found in New Mexico, and apparently New Mexico actually has a state fossil, the Coelophysis (picture a bipedal animal similar to a raptor but much smaller and less deadly).  Deming, NM is also one of the only locations in the world where archaeologists have found undamaged T-Rex remains, who the museum workers loveingly refer to as “Stan” for some unknown reason.  The exhibits aren’t just factual, though.  There are life size replicas that tower over visitors, interactive exhibits where you can hear dinosaur noises, videos, and actual impressive fossils that can make anyone feel like a kid again.

In addition to the dinosaur exhibits, there is also a very impressive exhibit on the solar system and its formation.  New Mexico is ideal for stargazing with it’s high altitude, clear skies and general lack of big cities, tall buildings and “real” trees.  The museum celebrates this fact not only with the exhibit, but also with a sizeable planetarium.

My favorite exhibit, however, was the one on volcanoes.  I had absolutely no idea, but apparently not only did volcanoes once cover the majority of northern New Mexico, but there is still to this day an active volcano, Capulin, in the high plains which is also a US National Park!  What makes the volcano exhibit so freakishly cool, though, is that they have built a volcano inside the museum that visitors can walk through.  There is “magma” running under your feet, seismic trembles and noises, and elevation and lighting changes.  I was blown away, and the kids loved it, going through the exhibit as many times as their parents would allow.

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