With one stunning unveiling after another, Dallas' Woodall Rodgers corridor has taken on new life this fall. The Perot Museum of Nature and Science, which officially opens to the public on Saturday, December 1, may outshine all of the area's other new additions.
At right: The colorful entrance to the Discovering Life Hall, where all manner of flora and fauna are on display.
The museum's glass-enclosed escalator gives visitors a grand view of downtown Dallas, and the entire entryway is wide open, providing a welcoming feeling to one and all.
If there's one theme for the Perot Museum, it's interactivity. The fun starts before you even get to the building. In the garden, you can play chimes and xylophones, explore a petrified tree, climb on or leap over colorful frogs and walk through a shallow stream that contains footprints of various Texas animals.
The lobby contains "dancing water molecules" that rise and fall as people pass underneath them.
The Expanding Universe Hall is the first thing you encounter if you take the escalator to the top floor. The exhibit "Journey Through the Solar System" features multiple screens that show the placement of various planets.
3D is featured in several places in the museum, including a theater that shows animated films and ones from National Geographic like Sea Monsters and Meerkats 3D. In the Rose Hall of Birds, you can experience what it feel like to be a bird and soar over trees, lakes and mountains.
The Rees-Jones Foundation Dynamic Earth Hall lets visitors experience all that the natural world has to offer. Here, the water cycle is explained in short order, with melting ice draining water to a lower area where it is turned into its gaseous form.
The Dynamic Earth Hall also shows the power that nature can unleash. You can stand on an earthquake simulator or touch a tornado. Just be thankful that the demonstrations are nowhere near as dangerous as the real things.
Seeing as how the energy hall is named after Tom Hunt, the longtime oil man, it's no surprise that the majority of its focus is on oil and natural gas drilling, including this massive model of a drill. An animated video about the Barnett Shale extols the benefits of natural gas drilling, although it does pay lip service to those who object to it.
This cool car is actually an example of a fuel-efficient or alternative energy vehicle. Despite the museum's laudable efforts toward being green, including solar panels and rainwater collection, the section on alternative energy sources is significantly smaller than that devoted to oil, natural gas and coal.
Interacting with something without actually touching it, like the water molecules in the lobby, is fun for all ages. Here, wooden panels, helped by a camera in the middle, flip up to mirror anything or anyone that stands in front of them.
The Texas Instruments Engineering and Innovation Hall has more than a few exhibits that will eat up your time, including ones that let you build a remote control car, program a robot or construct your own Rube Goldberg-like device. But the one that is likely to cause the longest lines is the MIDI Sound Studio, where you can create your own music with the push of a few buttons or just bang away on the drum set.
The Children's Museum is designed for kids 5 and under to have their own place to explore. It includes mockups of the Dallas skyline that they can climb on, over, under and through.
The Sports Hall offers a couple of opportunities to compare your skills to professionals, including the Motion Lab that captures you throwing a football or turning a cartwheel, among other actions, then plays your movements back to you in ultra slow motion. There's also a short track area where you can see how your speed compares to the likes of Felix Jones of the Dallas Cowboys, a T-Rex or a cheetah.