Elizabeth A.S. Brooke

Crafting, traveling and everything in between.

Free Museums!

On our Raleigh, N.C., visit we stopped at as many museums as possible. All free (except special exhibits).

North Carolina Museum of Art
My favorite pieces in the museum were photographs by Alex Sothpaintings and photographs by Page H. Laughlin and Pamela Pecchio and “Three Graces,” by Mickalene Thomas. The museum houses a wide range of pieces, from Ancient Egypt to Contemporary American. Definitely an art museum to check out.

This museum also has outdoor trails (from 1 mile to just over 2 miles in length) that wind through an open field and woods, showcasing various art pieces.

“The Conversationalist,” a piece by Chakaia Booker

“Whisper Bench,” a piece by Greensboro sculptor Jim Gallucci

North Carolina Museum of History
We did not get to spend much time in this museum, but enjoyed the few exhibits we did see. We started at the exploration and settlement of the New World by European colonists and made most of our way to the Civil Rights movement before needing to head back home.

Besides dates and facts one usually relates with history, the museum also offered a look into the cultural aspects of the various time periods — from agriculture and tools, to education and music. I wish we could have spent more time reading each sign and listening to recordings.

A sign at the history museum that Chris liked

Note: Lots of school groups visit the museum. So expect to share the space with youngins.

North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences
This museum seems to appeal to kids and adults alike, which I like. There’s nothing worse to go into a museum looking to learn things but all the exhibits are dumbed down for grade school students. It makes you think you’re out of place. This museum seemed to have a nice balance of nice educational aspects for adults and then some interactive activities for kids. It strikes a good balance, which, I think, is hard to do.

There were lots of student running around. Literally. And it was very loud. So, be prepared during the school day to share the visit with lots of students from grade school up to middle school. Most of the teachers, and a few of the chaperons, tried to make sure their kids were behaving, not cutting in front of people and not running. But in many cases, there wasn’t much control over the kids.

Still the museum is worth the trip, though you may need to move more quickly than you’d like to get out of the way of large groups.

Butterfly in the conservation room at the natural sciences museum

So, if you’re in the Raleigh area, check out these state jewels. They are worth the gas and time to get there.

Bodies Revealed, Natural Science Center, Greensboro, N.C.

Since Chris had to work last night, he took me to see the Bodies Revealed exhibit at the Natural Science Center in Greensboro, N.C., for Valentine’s Day on Saturday.

This traveling exhibit displays several bodies and body parts that have gone through a process called polymer preservation. Besides showing the respiratory, circulatory, reproduction and other body systems, there are examples of organs with cancer, a diseased lung and organs that are enlarged for various reasons, such as infection. It may sound like a weird Valentine’s Day trip to you, but I loved it!
The exhibit is only at the center through March 6, so you’ve got a couple more weeks to visit and check it out. The museum is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Sunday and is located on Lawndale Drive in Greensboro.
There were a ton of people there to visit the museum and the exhibit. A coworker, who went Sunday, said a museum employee told her that 1,300 people visited on Saturday! The museum gave people tickets and allowed people into the exhibit in shifts.
We had the 12:30 time and had an hour to kill before we could enter, so we walked around the museum itself and the small zoo behind the building.
Downstairs are several science labs were kids can get their hands on some projects and experiments. I think most of the labs are held as classes and you have to register. When we were there, there were kids in the physics lab building with Legos. I couldn’t see what they were working on, but the kids were intently working together in small groups. Cute!
We peeked in the biology and herpetology labs and an aquatic area to look at the various creatures in aquariums and such. There were snakes, lizards, morays, turtles and fish.
A two-headed yellow-bellied slider turtle.
A moray, which is related to an eel.
A snake.
A hellbender, which is a salamander
Another snake; this time a rattler. I don’t know what’s with Chris’s obsession with snake pictures! 🙂
Outside in the zoo there are turkeys and peacocks wandering around the park, lorikeets, gibbons, lemurs, tigers and a petting farm with goats, burros and other animals.
Animals at the petting farm.
Lemurs!!! I wanted to pick one up and squeeze it! 🙂