By Jaci Arnone
My family recently discovered one of Rhode Island’s hidden gems: the Museum of Natural History and Cormack Planetarium. Situated in Roger Williams Park, this museum is the only of its kind in Rhode Island and proved to be a fun adventure for the entire family.
The Museum features a wide range of exhibits highlighting a variety of cultures from Native Americans to the craftspeople of the South Pacific. In addition, a Victorian-styled exhibition hall features treasures from the turn of the century, when collecting natural history items became an international fascination. (The exhibit includes a working observation hive, complete with live bees!)
The highlight for my older sons was Mission Moon: past, present, future (on display through September 29, 2008), featuring 3D imagery acquired by the Apollo and Surveyor programs and a moon rock collected by the crew of Apollo 17. There are several space-related, hands-on activities for kids of all ages, with museum staff available to answer questions.
Upon arrival, I would recommend picking up a ‘Scavenger Hunt’ worksheet, which lists basic trivia questions for each exhibit. This encouraged my kids to pay attention to details, and the best part was claiming their prize for turning in a completed worksheet!
My kids were tuckered out before the start of the Planetarium show (2:00 each weekend day and during school vacations), so we passed for this visit. However, the grounds of the museum served as a perfect picnic spot to enjoy lunch before heading home. We can’t wait to visit again!
Museum of Natural History & Planetarium
Roger Williams Park, 1000 Elmwood Ave, Providence, RI
Museum admission: $2 ($1 for children 2-7 years old)
Planetarium admission: $3 ($2 for children 4-7 years old). This includes entrance to the Museum and galleries. Children under 4 not permitted in the planetarium.
The first Saturday of every month is free to Providence (not East or North Providence) residents only (proof of residency required).
Photo Credit: Jaci Arnone