So I Googled “dinosaur museum” and Nashville, TN and one of the first results that popped up was a little place in Murfreesboro, TN which is about a 20 minute drive from where we live.
I read that admission was $5 and kids 12 and under are FREE*. So on a low-key Saturday, we hopped in the car and headed to Earth Experience: Middle Tennessee Museum of Natural History.
It was amazing. It is a smaller venue, but they have a ton of awesome stuff to see. The kids were big fans of this Allosaurus waiting for us in the first display room. They also liked the Spinosaurus teeth and they got to touch a Brachiosaurus vertebrae.
They have a working paleontology lab where you can watch as they clean and repair real dinosaur bones, and they also make their own casts (molds) of actual pieces that have been found to sell in their on-site gift shop.
The staff there have also found some of the pieces that are on display, as pictured below.
The staff was very helpful and showed us around, and the boys even got to hold a piece of dinosaur poop! Though that’s not its technical name.
There is another work space where you can watch as they make jewelry from the gems and stones that are brought in. They are also for sale in the gift shop.
They had a small play area for kids, as well as several minerals and artifacts on display.
The big attraction was the full-size T-Rex! It is a cast of the original T-Rex that was discovered in Fort Peck by Louis E. Tremblay in 1997. We spent a lot of time in here!
There is also a T-Rex skull and Triceratops skull.
One of the volunteers invited us over to where she was working and explained to us how they make the casts of some of the different pieces they have.
You can tell how much the staff cares by the way they talk about what they do here. They took the time to talk with the kids about the things they were interested in as we walked through.
We are definitely going to make a trip back, she was also in the process of making casts of Velociraptor claws with ribbons tied to the top to be sold as Christmas ornaments!
We were in and out in about an hour, and we learned a lot! It was well worth the short drive. They have a lot of treasures here to see, the kids are still talking about the T-Rex and the dinosaur poop!
*Please note that admission pricing will change as of September 1, 2016 to the following:
- $7 ages 12 and up
- $3 ages 4-11
- Under 4: free
(But in my opinion, it’s still very affordable and worth every cent.) There are also a few places inside to make optional donations to help expand the museum and fund archaeological digs.