Fernbank 3.0, March 2018

Time for a visit to our home away from home, the Fernbank Museum of Natural History. This was our third visit, (check out the first)and this time we allowed ourselves to stay as long as we wanted without having to rush off to drive another ten hours.

Argentinosaurus in main lobby
Argentinosaurus still presides
Hands on bugs exhibit
Nature Quest exhibit still enraptures
Belemnite fossil
Belemnite in Solnhofen quarried marble still amazes

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Giganotasaurus fossil model
Giganotasaurus still looms large

I was happy to see the Halls of Georgia timeline hasn’t changed, and that you can still watch an 8-minute video on the creation of earth, get right up to the point where single-cell organisms appear…..and it ends, and you walk out to see taxidermied turkeys. Such a great juxtaposition.

I mistakenly didn’t record all the many blooming glories of the city as I did last time. I wrongly assumed spring would soon arrive here in Madison and we’d have our own flowering trees and tulips to ogle. Here’s just a taste of what we’re still waiting for…

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The newest addition to Fernbank (not including the special exhibit on the body’s microbiome which did NOT have hand sanitizer at the end, ugh) is an incredible series of boardwalks and paths winding around and through the wooded swampland behind the building. There are about 2 1/4 miles of walkways beautifully arranged and engineered to be an extension of the landscape. We were all enchanted. The area to the right is intended for younger kids with a nature-inspired playground and a manufactured waterfall complete with boats, simple dams and obstructions kids can manipulate to change the water flow.

Another section of the boardwalk is designed for a bit older group ready to climb through/over/under/down a bunch of rope bridges and tunnels. You can test yourself (dominated the rope bridge, thank you), or lurk at the only entrance/exit and tell your kids you ‘just love to watch them play’ (which I did a lot more of.)
Then, you have a beautiful, screened in building for nature talks and what-not, and paths through gardens and the forest floor and old mill (?) or church (?) foundation stones (I couldn’t find any information but was intrigued.) A cool, cloudy day, but no mosquitoes, and lots of fun.

I figured this would be our last time visiting Fernbank, but with the boardwalk addition, we might find our way back again sometime. Go see for yourself!

A trip to Fernbank Museum of Natural History

On our way home from our week of respite on the beach, we drove through Atlanta, Georgia.  All my previous experiences of Atlanta involved driving through it at Mach One with the entire rest of humanity at three in the morning, and my impression of the place was not the greatest.  This time, we managed to get off the highway and actually see some of the city, fortunately at the peak of spring with all the flowering trees and bulbs in full bloom.

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Gorgeous, and our destination was also a real gem, the Fernbank Museum of Natural History.

Were there dinosaurs?  Indeed, there were.

IMG_3416 (3) IMG_3424 IMG_3420 The  most impressive part of the museum is of course the main display, skeletal fossil copies of an Argentinosaurus and a Giganotosaurus, astonishing creatures of incredible size (the originals remained in Argentina I hear.)

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The kids had an amazing time talking to the docents and then discovering the upper floor, a Children’s Museum with different ecosystems, a clubhouse, learning stations and so much more to explore.

There was so much about this museum that I loved.  The special exhibit at the time was “Poison”, which led people through the history, botany, and chemistry of poisons in addition to many of the references from literature (Think “Alice in Wonderland”, “Romeo and Juliet” the witches from “Macbeth” and “Harry Potter”.)  I fell in love with the interactive book on display.

Interactive book on poisons

I also loved the Poison gift shop and bought “A Poisoner’s Handbook” and skull scarf for myself my best friend, and the preserved green space all around the museum.

The Halls of Time were such a weird and wonderful juxtaposition of prehistoric time along one side of the hall, and taxidermy of the biology and ecosystems of modern Georgia (i.e. the stuffed turkey families across from the video about the dawn of the universe.)

The last thing, and the one I was most geeked about were the limestone floor tiles, harvested from the same quarry as where the famed Archaeopteryx with feather imprints was found (Solnhofen region of Germany, and I suppose it is okay if you’re not squealing here.  I understand.  Actually, no, I don’t because I was emitting a very high-pitched noise when I realized this.)

Exhibit describing source of limestone floor tiles

After this and the trip through the halls of all known time, I was wiped out and went to the cafe for tea and looked out at the lush grounds while the kids did more “nature tracking” in the NatureQuest exhibit.  All in all, lovely, and so, so fun.  Next time you are speeding through Atlanta, I highly recommend the detour.

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