Texas Memorial Museum

The Texas Memorial Museum is located on north end of the University of Texas campus. It opened in 1939 as a state natural history museum, but was eventually transferred to UT in 1959. Many of their items are donations, bequests, or discoveries by university scientists. This museum is a popular field trip for school children, but I can vouch that adults will enjoy their visit as well.

Visitors enter the museum through the Great Hall on the second floor. The display cases scattered about the room contain their gem and mineral collection, a bequest from an El Paso Texas legislator named E.M. Barron. A gigantic Pterosaur skeleton is suspended from the ceiling. Found in 1971 in Big Bend National Park, this is the largest flying creature ever discovered.

Tucked away on one side of the Great Hall is a small gift shop.

The Hall of Geology and Paleontology is downstairs on the first floor. The centerpiece of the exhibit is a Simpson’s Glyptodont, an extinct relative of modern-day armadillos.

The third floor’s Hall of Texas Wildlife reminded me of the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. Some of the dioramas, including the mountain lion, were created for the University Centennial Exhibition in 1936.

Collections of bugs, butterflies, and reptiles can also be found on the third floor.

Currently, the fourth floor Hall of Biodiversity has a rotating exhibit called The Buzz Saw Sharks of Long Ago. This seemed like a rather odd subject, but this exhibit about helicoprion turned out to be quite interesting. These long-extinct fish had huge tooth whorls which still fascinate paleontologists.

Colorful artwork by Alaskan artist Ray Troll accompanies the exhibit. Apparently, he is also fascinated with these unusual creatures…and maybe has a few nightmares about them?

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