One of the little known treasures of Middle Tennessee is the Middle Tennessee Museum Of Natural History: The Earth Experience, located in Murfreesboro! The museum has two entire rooms full of fossils, as well as a room with minerals and display cases with rocks and even meteorites… an estimated 2,000 items on display. Fossil donations have come in from a range of supporters as well as from Alan Brown’s (Museum Director) annual digs in Montana which include specimens like two T-Rex leg bones. There is even a Paleontology Lab where you can see specimens in the process of being restored and prepared for display. If you have children, or your inner child loves dinosaurs or you are interested in fossils, geology, or gems, you need to check it out!
Thursday – Saturday
11:00am to 4:00pm
$7 for adults and children 12 years and up
$3 for children 4-11 years old
FREE for children under 4
THE MUSEUM FROM THE BEGINNING
In 2005 Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) opened the MTSU Mineral Gem and Fossil Museum in Ezell Hall and hosted a collection of minerals and fossils. That site couldn’t handle much traffic however and school groups had to be turned away due to the lack of space.
Fast forward to 2012 and a group of the museum’s supporters decided to start a new museum. In doing so they created a separate 501c3 nonprofit corporation to better position it to find a location that would be big enough to accommodate large school groups and expand its exhibits.
By 2014, that new site had been secured and the new Tennessee Museum of Natural History: The Earth Experience was born. The new facility was able to accommodate donations and loans of fossils and minerals like those of Lewis Elrod of the Mid Tennessee Gem and Mineral Society and Mr. Jerry Jacene of Prehistoric Exhibits. One of the highlights of the new museum and it’s larger size is a working paleontology laboratory where visitors can see real dinosaur bones being worked on and preserved.
VISITING THE MUSEUM
Over the years we’ve visited the museum a number of times with our Scout group… on arrival visitors are been greeted by Director Alan Brown who does an absolutely fantastic job at providing a walk through and educating both children and adults about the various attractions displays.
|Director Alan Brown and students viewing a T-Rex cast|
Several fossil casts can be found on display in the first room ranging from Saber Toothed Tiger’s to Wooly Rhinoceros’.
|Saber Toothed Tiger Skull Cast|
|Woolly Rhinoceros Skull Cast|
|Mosasaurus Skull Cast|
On exiting the first room you’ll see on your right the working Paleo Lab where visitors can see the actual workspace used to clean and preserve fossils found during Alan Brown’s trips to Montana. This room also contains many display cases with various rocks and minerals found here in Tennessee and abroad.
|Working Paleo Lab|
Off of this room is another with a large display (possibly the largest anywhere) of minerals from the world famous Elmwood mine in Carthage, TN. Mineral collectors everywhere know of the mine’s large fluorite and calcite crystals.
|Alan Brown talking to visitors about the museum’s mineral collection|
Finally, moving down the hallway, visitors will be treated to a room that contains a cast Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton… the highlight of the museum! It’s based off of the third largest and most complete skeleton ever done and was purchased by Lewis Elrod. It is 38 feet long and nearly as high as the ceiling with more than 300 bones making up it’s skeleton. The T-Rex lived approximately 66-68 million years ago during what is known as the Cretaceous Period. To date, only four or five complete T-Rex skeletons have ever been found. This T-Rex skeleton in particular is the only one in the world that has the full three fingers, where others have all been found with only two.
Clearly the T-Rex skeleton is a big draw for visitors to the museum. This room also has other great displays however including:
|BOB or “Bunch Of Bones”|
The Middle Tennessee Natural History Museum: The Earth Experience, is a great place to visit right here in Middle Tennessee and your help is needed. Please make sure to join in our promotion and visit the museum… tell your family and friends about it to help spread the word!