All creatures big and small can be seen at The Schiele Museum of Natural History in Gastonia. A traveling Smithsonian exhibit of super-sized ant photographs gives visitors an up-close view of the world of ants. Not only is this a museum, but also there is a Planetarium, Backcountry Farm, Grist Mill, and Stone Age Site. A family could spend a good chunk of their day here exploring all of the fascinating exhibits.
The Museum & Planetarium
An enormous Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton greets everyone upon entry into the museum. It is a good way to spark children’s curiosity and build the excitement. You will find many areas to explore and many animals to peer at among their American Indian Hall, American Wildlife Hall, and North Carolina Hall. Step back in time, to the Hall of Earth and Man to discover the origins of human evolution. Not all of the animals are stuffed, live alligators, raccoons, skunks, prairie dogs, opossums, turtles, snakes and fish can be observed.
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In the Planetarium, look up to see a spectacular galaxy show playing on the domed ceiling. Stars, planets, constellations, moons and comets fill the night sky. There is an additional charge above the museum admission for the planetarium show.
The Hidden Life of Ants
Organized by the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, The Hidden Life of Ants exhibit takes visitors into the minuscule world of ants. Nature photographer, Mark Moffett captures this tiny world by using a macro lens, which makes ants become super-sized. Visitors can peak inside a live ant farm as part of this interesting exhibit, which is on display until April 6.
Along a half-mile nature trail, visitors can explore a variety of open-air exhibits. Step back in time at an 18th Century Backcountry Farm to examine the construction of buildings and fences as live sheep, chickens, and hogs gaze nearby. A reproduction of an old Grist Mill that was fundamentally important during the 1800’s and early 1900s can be viewed. Go back over 2.5 million years ago to see how people lived in the Stone Age by walking through a small village that depicts this era.
On Saturday, March 1 Bodies, Bellies & Brains, a child’s health fair will be held from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm. Kids activities geared for pre-kindergarten to middle school aged children including fitness challenge, view real organs, feel a brain replica, perform a virtual surgery, and many more health related activities. It’s a free event, so be sure to attend and come early.
Opening in the spring, Playscape is a children’s outdoor, nature-based interactive exhibit, which can be found along the nature trail.
For more information, check out their website at www.schielemuseum.org.