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Mayborn Musuem in Waco, Texas exhibit showing teepee and buffalo used as header
 

Mayborn Museum in Waco, Texas is filled with interesting things for young and old alike: a place for the scholar or the fun seeker. It's a fun trip back in time, It has indoor exhibits and great outdoor historical village. It opened in 2004 as a blending of the former Strecker Museum, a Children’s Discovery Center and the Outdoor Village all situated at different places originally.

One section of the museum, Waco at the Crossroads of Texas in the Natural History Exhibits that walks you through the history of Waco from the prehistoric period to the present.  I visited a limestone cave complete with stalactites and stalagmites that looked so real I felt I had descended into the bowels of the earth.  Two other dioramas where you walk into Texas past are the Forest ecosystem with bears, foxes and mountain lions. Birdsong fills the air there to complete the illusion. Then the man-made environments took me back to earlier times in Texas when Native Americans roamed freely across Texas. Homes of the early settlers are well represented here as well.

Mayborn Musuem in Waco, Texas exhibit showing a limestone cave
Limestone cave at Mayborn Museum

The Strecker was where the original mammoth fossils that were found were taken to protect the rare mammoth bones and other ancient fossils until the present building at the Mammoth Site could be built. The fossils are displayed well. They are enclosed in clear plastic so I could get an up close look and actually walk out over them.

Mayborn Musuem in Waco, Texas exhibit showing Mamoth fossils
The mamoth fossils  at Mayborn Museum

The Strecker Museum had been the oldest continuously operating natural history museum in Texas until it closed in September 2003 in order to blend with the Mayborn Museum Complex. Many of the original exhibits are still in evidence in the  Cabinets of Curiosities exhibit. '

Mayborn Musuem in Waco, Texas exhibit showing whale jarbone Mayborn Musuem in Waco, Texas exhibit showing  assorted shells and jewelry
Jaw of ancient whale at Mayborn Museum Assorted pieces in Cabinet of Curiosity at Mayborn

They are displayed more as they were in the old Steckler to give a feel for the difference between past  and present museums. Today museums are much more interactive. They were mainly for scholars and rich patrons who were expected to know what the exhibits were for m their studies rather than coming to the museum to learn. However there are many interesting items I enjoyed in this section.  One was an ancient turtle. The placard tells of the huge creature."Seventy-five million years ago this marine turtle, Protostega gigas, swam in the warm, shallow seas, which covered central Texas. It used its elongated phalanges (fingers and toes) to propel itself through the water as it hunted for small fish, jellyfish, and crabs, or as it swam to escape from larger marine reptiles such as mosasaurs, which relied on the turtle as a food source. The skeletal frame of Protostega gigas is quite different from modern sea turtles. Instead of being encased in a hard shell, Protostega had a carapace (shell) composed of bony struts, which were probably covered by a thick leathery skin. This specimen was excavated in 1971 from the Eagle Ford Formation, on the R.B. and Regina Green Ranch near Gholson, Texas. Measuring 12 feet in length and 13 feet in width, it is one of the largest Protostegid turtles ever found in North America."

Mayborn Musuem in Waco, Texas exhibit showing  ancient turtle skeleton
Prehistoric turtle fossil

Another part of the fossil record at Mayborn made me realize just how new we as humans are on our planet. It’s The Glen Rose Footprint made by a dinosaur known as an Acrocanthrosauros about 113 million years ago found in Glen Rose, Texas. Consider that earliest Homo Sapien remains are around 200,000 years ago. Boy, we are just youngsters here.

Mayborn Musuem in Waco, Texas exhibit showing Glen Rose Footprint
Glen Rose Footprint

The Mayborn has a very special place in its heart for youngsters. Unlike the Streckler section, the Children’s section is all about interaction. Lesa Bush, our guide explained, “We try to have something for every age. There are 17 different hands on exhibits on two floors”

Mayborn Musuem in Waco, Texas childrens exhibit showing costumes of othere countries
Children's display at Mayborn Museum about different cultures

From what I saw, kids really get into them, literally. Kids can do their own weather show or get into the bubbles exhibit. The really do get into the bubble. It’s a giant machine where the kids stand inside and a big bubble goes up around them. Scary part was in the communication section with old typewriters, switchboards and rotary dial phones and record players with old vinyl records

Mayborn Musuem in Waco, Texas woman using the bubble machine
Lesa demonstrating the bubble machine

Lesa, explained how children react to some of the exhibits there. “Viewing typewriters, they would say ‘Where are the monitors.’ And seeing the records, ‘Boy, that’s the biggest CD I ever saw.’”

Mayborn Musuem in Waco, Texas exhibit showing antique grinder in Bill and Vara Daniels Historic Village Mayborn Musuem in Waco, Texas exhibit showing outhouse in Bill and Vara Daniels Historic Village
Vintage grinder in the commissary at
Mayborn Historic Village
Outhouse at Mayborn Historic Village

My favorite part came next when we went out the back to view the Gov. Bill and Vara Daniel Historic Village. Kids and adults can really get into this section. There are 15 structures representing an 1880s to 1910s farming village. You can step into the past here. The Commissary displays everyday staples of the era, sacks of potatoes and flour, barrels of sugar, household items like materials and buckets, pretty much anything the average farming family would need. One of my favorites is a colorful grinder for things like wheat, corn and coffee. Although some groceries today still have a machine to grind your coffee, how many would have a grinder for wheat or corn.

Mayborn Musuem in Waco, Texas exhibit showing commisary in Bill and Vara Daniels Historic Village
Commissary at Mayborn Historic Village

Look at the tools the average blacksmith would have in his shop in this period. Get a feeling of being a student in the little one room schoolhouse. Look into the homes of families in the village.

Mayborn Musuem in Waco, Texas exhibit showing Church in Historic Village
The Historic Village Church at Mayborn Museum

The tale of how the village arrived at Baylor is a story in itself. Bill Daniel, former governor of Guam, came from a prominent Texas family.  Bill  stood out as a colorful character in a state known for colorful characters.  He and his wife, Vara, owned the historic Plantation Ranch where over the years, he acquired over two dozen historic buildings which he moved to the ranch and restored. In October 1986 he donated the entire village to Baylor, his alma mater, in honor of the Texas Sesquicentennial. The entire village was moved more than 200 miles from Liberty to Waco. It took aver 100 trucks and moving vehicles to transport the entire village including the artifacts.

The museum has an exhibit on the life of Bill Daniel.

Mayborn Museum is part of Baylor University. The first Sunday of the month is free to everybody. What a way to get the community to interact.

For more info:

http://www.baylor.edu/mayborn/index.php?id=15536

 

 

 

 

 


 

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