First, we checked out the old museum and then, headed over for lunch in the new restaurant off of the new wing called the Daily Planet Cafe. We were able to sit in their outside seating and had some yummy sandwiches and mac and cheese. It's a nice new space with some delicious food.
After our lunch we investigated the new research center. It's a very interesting concept with some active research labs in the building that people are able to visit and at times interact with. Some of the exhibits and concepts there are geared for kids that are a little older than our preschoolers and toddlers. However, there was plenty for them to explore and look at for even longer than the time we had to spend there. While we were there we investigated an electric car, a whale skeleton, a virtual submarine, and a weather forecast center. They have a lot of computer stations where you can explore various things. The one we checked out was the weather center where my son could track a hurricane or create a forecast. Very cool! They also had a large open ampitheatre where we saw a movie being played and a scientist giving a lecture. We would have liked to have more time to explore and we'll definitely be back!
What we liked: We loved the new beautiful space that the Nature Research Center was in. We also loved all of the interactive computer displays. It is a great concept to have a science exploration center where museum patrons can actually interact with the scientists and observe real scientific research. Plus, admission to the Museum of Natural Sciences is free, so it's a great inexpensive way to spend the day. Combined with a ride on the train from Durham it can be quite an adventure!
What we would change: Well, first of all, make sure you don't leave your child's favorite toy on a bench in the Nature Research Center (learned this one the hard way). Secondly, some of the displays and exhibits are geared toward kids that are a little older, but regardless, my 4 and 2 year olds found plenty to keep them occupied.
Website and other important information:
Address: 11 W. Jones St, Raleigh, NC, 27601
Hours: Monday-Saturday: 9am-5pm, Sunday: 12pm-5pm
(Inside the new Nature Research Center)
(A view of the outside of the NRC)