For the longest time, I never paid much attention to the university museums. However, I am starting to have a change heart with the few that we have visited. The KU Biodiversity Institute and National History Museum was a pleasant experience. Very similar to our visit to the Sam Noble Museum at OU and the Michael C. Carlos Museum at Emory in Atlanta. All three are quality museums. What we have found is that they are reasonably priced, entertaining, not too large for our little girls, and highly educational.
The University of Kansas Natural History Museum had live-animal exhibits including a bug room, displays of fossils, and still life displays of animal habitats. In all they have 1.2 million archaeological artifacts in their extensive collection. The Natural History Museum at KU has an extensive collection at its disposal and to educate the public.
We had never been to their natural history museum before so we ended up going through a side door which led us right into their Bugtown. Could not have been a better choice. Our little girls had a lot of fun looking at those creepy-crawlies. Their glassed-in honey bee hive, the giant walking sticks, and variety of vividly colored beetles were all a hit. They also liked crawling through the worm tunnel.
After leaving the Bugtown we took the elevator ride up to an area I would call their hall of wonders. Here they have a variety of fossils on display. Dinosaur bones like a Camarasaurus femur and triceratops skull. As well as a Pteranodon and mosasaur, two animals up to just a few years ago, I would have called dinosaurs. Now that my oldest daughter has caught the dinosaur bug and has corrected me for the umpteen time I know better. These halls are filled with a variety of prehistoric species from different eras. They also have modern animals on display from skulls to full mounts. Something that made the KU History Museum different from other natural history museums we have been to is that they also had a few live animals on display. Several encased areas had snakes.
The most impressive exhibit and what the museum is known for is their Panorama of North American habitats. This was part of the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago where a person gets a 360-degree-view of North American mammals in their natural surroundings. From a woodland scene to the arctic tundra if it is a large mammal from North America it is on display here. We used the area as our backdrop for eye-spy. I think it is going to be tough getting things past my girls, they do not miss much.
Our day vacation to Lawrence ended up being a lot of fun. The Natural History Museum had at least something that every member of our family enjoyed. I even got to see Comanche the only living survivor from the Battle of Little Big Horn. At least from the losing side of that battle. That was pretty neat because I teach about the battle in my history class. We also had a great time at the KU Sports Hall of Fame and the Prairie Park Nature Center. Going to the nature center at the end of the day made for a nice conclusion to our outing. Some of the stuffed animals we saw at the Natural History Museum alive and kicking completed our journey through the circle of life. Until next time Hakuna Matata.
To see our reviews of other Kansas attractions, click here
University of Kansas Natural History Museum
Located at 1345 Jayhawk Blvd, Lawrence, KS
Hours of Operation Tuesday through Saturday 9 to 5 and Sunday 12 to 4
Cost as of this Posting: Suggested Donation of around $5 per person
For more information visit their website at http://biodiversity.ku.edu/visit
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