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.
|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.
|The mamoth fossils at
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
|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
|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.
|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"
|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
|Lesa demonstrating the bubble
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.'"
grinder in the commissary 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.
|Commissary at Mayborn Historic
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.
|The Historic Village Church at
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
The museum has an exhibit on the life of
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.