Coming Soon to Dallas: Perot Museum of Nature and Science

December 5, 2011  

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by Caroline Foster
cfoster@mail.smu.edu

Rendering of the completed Perot Museum of Nature and Science. Photo Courtesy of the Museum of Nature and Science.

Imagine it’s a typical sunny Saturday in Dallas, you have out-of-town guests who are ready to see all that this Texas city has to offer. You take them to some of the great spots of the city, shopping at the original Neiman Marcus, lunch at classic Dallas dine-in like Mi Cocina. And then the dreaded late afternoon lull hits – what should you do the rest of the day?

As of January 2013 that question will be answered. The best place for a dose of culture for any age group will be the Perot Museum of Nature and Science. The city’s need for a new museum was felt by many. “Great cities have great museums,” said Jennifer Houston Scripps, the Director of Strategic Initiatives for the Museum of Nature and Science.

Dallas Convention and Visitors Bureau President and CEO, Phillip Jones, agrees that the museum will be a necessary addition downtown. According to Jones the museum will be one of downtown’s main attractions, and will even attract visitors from the entire region.

The museum’s website explains that the plans for the new building came into place in 2006 after a merger of three major museums in Dallas (The Natural History Museum, The Children’s Museum and the Science Place).

One of the first orders of business was to chose an architect for the museum. After the number of potential names was whittled down it was time to get the community involved in the process. The top four front-runners presented their ideas in front of the public at The Nasher. After consideration, Thom Mayne, an award-winning international architect, was given the job in 2008.

Unlike Any Other

The building is unlike any other in the city. The museum structure is designed to be intertwined in its landscape. The building is a cube shape and the landscape seems to almost come right out of the building. Scripps describes the museum’s look, “The building and the landscape meld together, like the landscape is pulled up and the building is placed on top of it.” Not only will this design make the building stand out, but it will also impress upon visitors the museum’s different components of nature, science and technology, according to Jennifer Whitus, the Communications Manager of the Museum of Nature and Science.

But it’s not only the architectural flair that makes the Perot Museum unique, special attention was paid to keeping the building sustainable. The museum boasts a system of two cisterns that can each collect 25,000 gallons of run-off rainwater from the roof to be used in restrooms and other facilities. This feature is especially important for Dallas because the city often has problems with droughts during the summer. Scripps said, “We must be wise stewards of our planet and keep a long term eye for sustainability.”

Currently the groundbreaking museum is on budget and on schedule to open in early 2013. The museum will include multiple exhibits, as well as a hall for a traveling exhibition, interactive kiosks, permanent educational learning labs and a large plaza outside, which Jones hopes will be used for city gatherings and public events.

The museum’s fresh look and focus on sustainability make it unique to Dallas, but nationally the fact that a museum can be built from the ground up during this tough economic time is a feat. “Creating a new museum is rare these days,” said Scripps. The museum was made possible by 99 percent public funding. This proves the community felt the museum was an important project for the area.

The museum will be an example of what nature and science can form when they are paired together. The sustainability and architectural aspects prove the museum practices what it will preach. Now that’s something we can stand behind.

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