The Sternberg Museum of Natural History is a university museum located in Hays, Kansas and it is the perfect stopover when driving through western Kansas. If you are ever making the long drive from Kansas City to Denver then this place is a great stop to get out and stretch the legs. The tour of the museum would take anywhere from one to three hours and has a variety of things to look at. According to the museum they have over 3 million specimens, that they rotate in and out, so you never know what you are going to see when you are there.
The permanent exhibits include several fossil displays, taxidermy animals, walk-through diorama of animatronic dinosaurs, 84 million year old Kansas which was covered by ocean water, and a demonstration laboratory where students from the university work on fossil preparation. We really liked walking through the dinosaur diorama, but our favorite thing was the fish with-in a fish display. There were several dinosaurs including a T-Rex and pterodactyls.
The Sternberg Museum also brings in first class temporary exhibits. While we were there they had one on Charles Schulz’s Peanuts, which was one of the main reasons that we decided to stop there. I am a big Peanuts fan. In fact, when I was in elementary school the librarian stopped letting me check out books until I picked something other than a Peanuts book. That did not fly with me so I struck a deal. She would let me check out one peanuts book if I also checked out a second book, I would always get a history book. I guess I should thank Charles Schulz, if he was still alive, for leading me down the path that made me a history teacher. If only I would have worked on my drawing skills, I might have ended up with a more lucrative career. The Peanuts exhibit was about Mr. Schulz’s work along with environmental concerns. They had several of his original comic strips, along with posters, and other Peanuts memorabilia that dealt with saving the environment.
The museum did have several kid friendly things like a fossil dig where kids can use brushes and other archeology tools to dig up different artifacts. There were also several display areas where kids can work on different crafts and projects. Additionally they had a few computers set up where there were puzzle games available.
The only thing that we did not like about the museum was the way that some of the display cases seemed to only be half full, or poorly laid out. For example, some of the display cases were packed with information and artifacts while others were only half full or the information that was given was lacking. I guess it makes since if they are constantly updating and rotating their 3,000,000 plus artifacts. Also, it seemed there were a lot of new exhibits being put up including a mammoth which seems to be something you would want to permanently display. This is one of the empty looking display cases…
This one is a little better laid out…
The Sternberg Museum is a good place to get out and stretch your legs. It is not the biggest or best museum, but a very nice museum considering it is in the middle of western Kansas. It might be a little bit expensive for bigger families. If you are traveling on a budget and are looking for a good place to get out and stretch your legs and learn something you might want to visit Historic Fort Hays, but if you have a few extra bucks to burn then Sternberg Museum is a good place to do it.
Sternberg Museum of Natural History
Located at 3000 Sternberg Drive Hays Kansas
Hours of Operation- Sunday 1:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. and Tuesday- Saturday 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. closed Monday
Cost as of 2011- Adults 13 to 59 is $8.00 Seniors 60 and over $6.00 and children 4 to 12 are $5.00
For more information visit their website at http://sternberg.fhsu.edu/