I will be honest. We visited the Museum of Ancient Life because it was in walking distance of the Butterfly Biosphere and Farm Country on our visit to Thanksgiving Point. Originally I had planned to jet over to the Museum of Natural Curiosity, but that involved getting back in the car and nap time was approaching so we went for what we could get to on foot. However, I will tell you, I didn’t regret it at all. The Museum of Ancient Life at Thanksgiving Point is everything a dinosaur museum should be – awesome for all ages (our toddler loved it, but so did we!) and filled to the absolute brim with dinosaur skeletons.
What You’ll See at the Museum of Ancient Life
Soon after you enter the Museum of Ancient Life, you’ll spot your first couple of dinosaur skeletons. They aren’t huge skeletons, but they’re impressive and set the stage for what comes next – namely, a whole lotta dinosaurs.
But first, check in. We used an Explorer Pass (and thank you to Thanksgiving Point for hosting us!), which gets you a wrist band that will get you into all of the attractions in one day, or you can purchase admission to individual museums.
The galleries at this museum are put together in a way that I found incredibly aesthetically pleasing with dramatic lighting, great staging, and lots of things to see and touch. There are a whopping 60 complete dinosaur skeletons throughout the museum, and more than 50 hands-on exhibits perfect for drawing little learners in. Not only are there dinosaurs galore, but the displays are often clever. Look for the giant blue sea turtle or the hoard of human skeletons attacking a mastodon.
Something especially cool is that you can also watch a working paleontology lab at the center of the museum. Real people work here to uncover dinosaur bones. When we visited, the lab had a 150-million-year-old Barosaurus that they were working to extract from the surrounding rock and sediment. If your kids really love watching the lab (or even if they don’t), they can visit the Junior Paleo Lab and make their own fossil or uncover a fish fossil that they can take home – both of these activities cost an extra fee and are best for kids ages 3 and older for the Junior Paleo Lab and 6 and older for the fish fossil activity.
If you have younger children, also look for the quarry dig and Erosion Table toward the end of the exhibits. The quarry dig is essentially the sandbox of everyone’s dreams where kids can dig, sift, shovel, and more. The Erosion Table involves water, sand, and dinosaur toys and is pretty awesome, but I will say that you might want to bring a change of clothes for toddlers or young kids because they might get a little wet in this one (we skipped it for that reason as we didn’t have a change of clothes and had a long drive ahead of us).
Beyond exhibits, visitors can also sign up for paleontology classes or watch 3D movies at the Mammoth Screen Theatre.
All in all, this is an amazing museum. Kids will love it, but if you ever liked dinosaurs even a teeny bit as a kid, you’ll enjoy it too. Displays are attractive and exhibits are fun whether you’re just looking at everything or delving in and reading every plaque.
For more information, visit the Museum of Ancient Life website.