Part of Exhibition: Nature Research Center
of an Exhibit
Published on August 18, 2014
Museum: North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences
Visit Date: Summer, 2014
The Naturalist Center at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences is a modern cabinet of curiosities. Everywhere your eye may wander is a new object waiting to be observed. The walls are lined with specimens of all shapes and sizes. The bulk of the exhibit is dedicated to collection cabinets housing thousands of objects within white metal drawers and wooden shelves. These cabinets offer everything from fossils to reptiles to marine animals. Objects are preserved in jars of formaldehyde or in the plastic boxes. There are furs, animal shells, rocks and minerals, taxidermy, and bones.
In addition to such an extensive hands-on collection, there are stations around the exhibit to further explore and learn. This includes several microscope stations, a weighing station, and other tables where visitors can explore a posed question such as “What is a data tag?”. The piece de resistance of interactive tech gadgets to play with in this space were the two interactive tables where visitors place an object onto the table which activates a touch screen visitors can use to find out more information about the chosen object. The interactive tables were never left unattended, and both children and adults could be seen peering through microscopes and in drawers examining, looking, and touching.
Overall, the exhibit is extremely friendly for children and families. The cabinets are accessible to all age groups and many of the fragile collection pieces are in plastic handling boxes for even young ones to handle. The museum does place a minimum age limit of eight years old on visitors admitted to the space. The number of visitors allowed in the space at a given time is controlled providing a more enjoyable and relaxed experience. It would be easy to spend an hour or more here freely exploring specimens from the natural world. This exhibit truly holds more than a few curiosities.