I have memories from my childhood of being dragged through museums across Europe. I was not happy about this. And, there really wasn’t anything fun about them. Though I did get to see the Mona Lisa. Perhaps I should be more appreciative. And, perhaps today’s science museums should not be called museums. Today’s science, nature and art museums are interactive. They can even be so much FUN that the kids won’t want to leave. Here are a few of our favorite art, nature and science museums in the Southwest U.S.
Art, Nature & Science Museums – Santa Fe, New Mexico
So, Meow Wolf in Santa Fe, NM doesn’t bill itself as a museum. But it tops our list of art, nature & science museums available in the Southwest. Rather it is a multi-dimensional, multi-sensory place of discovery and imagination that was born of art. It is both amusement park and art experience. In a day and age when kids too often hear “be careful” and “don’t touch that,” Meow Wolf encourages the opposite. Visitors are expected to open and then explore through doors, cabinets and anything that could conceivably be an entry.
Each dimension leads to another space, and another, each that is a new exciting world that sparks imaginations… A cave filled with owl eyes, an old camper, an alien China town, a tree house with intricate laser art hanging in the sky, a bus facing the sky that we pretended to drive while laying on our backs, a dark, smokey room with lasers that allows you to create music and much more.
I can’t remember experiencing anything quite so interactive, adventurous or stimulating to the imagination. Most importantly, Meow Wolf was FUN. Plus, once you have explored all the dimensions of Meow Wolf, you may want to come back to solve the mystery.
Denver Museum of Nature & Science
Art, Nature & Science Museums – Denver, Colorado
Both of our children are now at fantastic ages (6 & 10) to really enjoy the Denver Museum of Nature & Science.
You won’t want to miss an IMAX film here. The films are entertaining and educational. They change out periodically, so check what’s playing before you go. We learned how astronauts live in space, how the planet is changing and more.
One of our other favorite exhibits was the Space Odyssey. With many interactive components and an attentive staff managing some of these we spent most of our time here.We learned so much about our galaxy here.
We also really liked Expedition Health. We were able to do hands-on experiments, and learn more about our own bodies and health. There’s even a real lab where kids (and adults) can conduct fun lab experiments.
I am itching to make it back to check out the new Mindbender Mansion. I suspect our eldest daughter will love solving all the challenging puzzles. The Virtual Reality Arcade also sound like fun for ages 10 and up. It is billed as letting you explore wherever your curiosity leads. I love that! Plus, I am a big fan of virtual reality after getting to experience Star Wars Virtual Reality at Disney World.
There is an area for younger kids, but the many interactive exhibits and IMAX movies are probably best suited for aged 5 and up. Exhibits and movies do change so you will want to check before you visit.
Eureka Math & Science Center
Art, Nature & Science Museums – Grand Junction, Colorado
Eureka! Math and Science Center in Grand Junction is a super cool science museum. It recently opened a new facility and the exhibits are outstanding. A glass bee hive enthralled the dads, while the kids bounced from one engaging exhibit to another. I was most sad that I couldn’t spend enough time on one puzzle exhibit that I really wanted to figure out. Apparently I’ll just have to go back with just two kids instead of forty to be able to solve that one.
Walking Mountains Science Center
Art, Nature & Science Museums – Avon, Colorado
The Walking Mountains Science Center makes our list because of their wonderful programs.In addition to their campus in Avon, Colorado they run educational nature and science programs out of Vail’s hiking center and Epic Discovery atop Vail Mountain. Their summer camps are wonderful too. Our daughter’s favorite this summer was Living Off the Land. She learned to make all kinds of things: lip balm, laundry detergent, candles, tea and more!
Are there any we missed? Tell us some of your favorite art, nature and science museum in the Southwest U.S. in the comment below!