DALLAS The Perot Museum of Nature and Science, the much-ballyhooed $185 million cube that's been going up alongside the Wooddall Rodgers Freeway in Dallas, threw open its doors for a sneak peak Wednesday. And members of the North Texas media got the chance to act like kids again.
Certainly, there are many elements that are going to have kids -- and their parents -- talking when the museum opens to the public Dec. 1. From the leap-frog forest that greets visitors near the entrance to the glass-enclosed escalator offering a view of the downtown skyline, the wonders are all around at the Perot. Just a few: The world's first installation of the 85-foot alamosaurus (a monster of the ancient southwest); a Running Wall, where you can race against a cheetah, T. Rex, or a choice of athletes, including a Dallas Cowboy. (This last element is part of the Motion Lab which may be the single coolest thing in a science museum ever.)
Then, of course, there's the unique architecture of the Thom Mayne-designed, 180,000-square-foot building which, as May explained Wednesday, is meant to suggest a fusion of earth and water on its flowing first floor and the man-made with the harshly geometric square resting on top.
Some other clever touches: a miniature Dallas skyline that kids can clamber on and a replica of the Dallas Farmers Market in the Children's Museum; having visitors put on lab coats and goggles to replicate experiments in the Bio Lab; a real (though not at all destructive) tornado in the Dynamic Earth Hall; and a musical staircase that echoes with the sounds of gurgling water as visitors climb up or down. And parents may also like the offerings at the Wolfgang Puck-catered cafe.
Not everything is groundbreaking. Some of what's on display is more standard-issue science-museum fare. But, if one thing is more ho-hum, there's something next to it that generates interest.
Even better is what this might mean for the area around the museum, that often depopulated moonscape known as Victory Park and the under-utilized West End nearby. If the Perot Museum draws large crowds who, in turn, patronize some of the restaurants and other attractions in the area (like the awesome Dallas World Aquarium and the new Klyde Warren Deck Park), it might just create enough energy to turn that area around.
And that would be something worth putting on exhibit.
Cary Darling, 817-390-7571