There are several Science Museums in Alabama according to numerous people and websites, but do all of them really meet the correct criteria?
That is the real question to be asked, and here is some of the criteria they must meet or exceed.
There are numerous very important distinctions between museums of science and museums of history of science.
The second distinction, museums of the history of science, are in most all cases, places for exploration, family fun time, as well as discovery.
They are often called “science centers” by design and drop the museum title, and by such, do not actively collect high priority ideas or subjects.
The term “science museum” in most all cases, will take the form of interactive exhibits, including numerous artifacts that are truly interesting and related.
History of Science museums are in most all cases affiliated with universities, and depending on the university, can be very, very good—or just plain average.
However, the true Science Museums in Alabama meet all of the critic’s criteria, and there are six that really stand out as a must see for you and your family.
The Alabama Museum of Natural History
First on the list of Science Museums in Alabama is the Alabama Museum of Natural History, which is located on the campus of the University of Alabama.
It is home to one of the State’s main repositories for several interesting artifacts, including numerous fossils, human artifacts, as well as photographs and biological specimens.
It is also home to the Hodges meteorite, which is very unique.
The reason for this is very simple; it is the only known object from space to have ever hit a human being.
This museum is the oldest in the state and was founded before the University opened in 1831.
The offices and exhibits are located in the legendary Smith Hall, while the main exhibits are located elsewhere.
The scientific study collections are located in the Mary Harmon Bryant Hall, which is considered to be a state-of-the-art collections facility.
Some of the most famous exhibits include numerous fossils from the state, rocks and minerals, as well as the huge fossil of a prehistoric whale.
The Dauphin Island Sea Lab
Next on the list of the Science Museums in Alabama is the Dauphin Island Sea Lab, also known as the DISL.
This museum is a marine and education center that is located on the east end of Dauphin Island, which is a barrier island of the Gulf Coast in the state, located in Mobile County.
It is considered to be a perfect setting for marine research, as it is surrounded by the Gulf of Mexico, Mobile Bay, and the Mississippi Sound.
This science museum coordinates educational programs with numerous schools as well as Universities in the state and allows the public to learn several important details.
These details include the marine environment and its many ecosystems, and they are explained via its aquarium and marine science museum, the Estuarium.
The campus of the DISL span over 36 acres of natural beauty and includes 39 buildings.
These 39 buildings encompass classrooms, laboratories, offices, as well as living quarters for over 160 students, facility, and staff.
The DISL was created in 1971 by the state legislature, in order to organize and consolidate the state’s marine science education programs.
The McWane Science Center
The third of the Science Museums in Alabama is the McWane Science Center, located in downtown Birmingham, in Jefferson County.
It is a non-profit enterprise that combines three major components: a museum, a theater, as well as an aquarium.
It grew from the merger of two older science centers, and the earliest inception of what would become the McWane Science Center, was the Red Mountain Museum.
In the year 1991, the museum merged with Discovery Place, and after a $10 million donation form the McWane family, the named was changed to its current name.
The Southern Museum of Flight
The fourth of the Science Museums in Alabama is the Southern Museum of Flight, also located in Birmingham.
It is considered to be the largest civilian aviation museum in the Southeastern United States, for a very good reason.
Its collections include military, commercial, as well as experimental aircraft, and also has related memorabilia and other artifacts.
The Southern Museum of Flight’s collection celebrates some of the earliest events in U.S. aviation history and includes what is considered to be the “first flying school” in the country.
This exhibit chronicles the brief life of the famous “Wright Brothers Flying School”, which was located in what today is Maxwell Field, outside of Montgomery.
There is a full-size replica of their plane, the “Wright Flyer”, which literally floats above a display that features a large photograph of the original landing field.
The U.S. Space and Rocket Center
The fifth of the Science Museums in Alabama is the U.S. Space and Rocket Center, located in Huntsville, in Madison County.
This center serves as the state’s museum and archive dedicated to the U.S. Space Program and is home of the original U.S. Space Camp and Aviation Challenge.
The U.S. Space and Rocket Center is an affiliate of the world-famous Smithsonian Institute.
Because of this, it is the official visitors center for the National Aeronautics and Space Administrations, better known as NASA, Geroge C. Marshall Flight Center.
Numerous experts recognize this museum as having one of the world’s premier, as well as most comprehensive, collection of U.S. human space-flight hardware.
The permanent collection located here include the Appollo 16 Command Module, “Casper”, which brought it safely home, as well as one of the three remaining Saturn V rockets.
The W.A. Gayle Planetarium
The sixth and final of the Science Museums in Alabama is the W.A. Gayle Planetarium, which is located in the state capital of Montgomery.
This science planetary education center is owned by the City of Montgomery but is operated by Troy University.
In the year 1972, the city contracted with Troy University to operate the 159-seat planetarium, and this partnership still continues to this day.
It was originally designed to educate young students in grades K-12, about both astronomy as well as planetary science.
However, this beautiful museum is also open to the public, and includes several fields other than astronomy and planetary science.
It also includes archaeology, oceanography, as well as anatomy, though several different venues.
These venues include films, lectures, live music, as well as digital art performances.
The W.A. Gayle Planetarium was opened to the public in 1968, during the growing interest in space by the public.
The facility at this museum is one of the largest and most diverse science education centers in the entire southeast and is very family friendly.
These six Science Museums in Alabama offer you and your family a great chance to see some of the best in the country, right here at home.
While there are several other smaller science museums, these six really stand out as meeting all the experts’ criteria.
Science and Technology | Encyclopedia of Alabama
The Alabama Museum of Natural History
The Alabama Museum of Natural History is located in Smith Hall on the campus of the University of Alabama.
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The McWane Science Center is one of the best science museums in the state, for several different reasons.
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The Southern Museum of Flight is one of the best kept secrets in Alabama, and if you are a fan of aviation, it is a must-see day trip.
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The US Space and Rocket Center
The US Space and Rocket Center is the state of Alabama’s museum and archive that is totally dedicated to the United States Space Program.
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