The North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences' new wing, the Nature Research Center, is filled with tons of great exhibits. It is almost overwhelming the first time you walk into this 80,000 square-foot building. You might have to go back several times to see everything you want.
Since it officially opens to the public on Friday, we wanted to give you some exhibit highlights to watch out for:
- SECU Daily Planet (all floors) - We finally know what has been hiding inside that giant globe along Jones Street – a three-story multimedia theater. View images from the natural world (my favorite are the scenes of lightning and bees). You can see the theater from all three levels of the museum, so definitely take a look.
- Stumpy (first floor) - This 50-foot-long whale skeleton has been called "an icon for the species." Scientists tracked her for decades, until she was found dead near Nags Head in 2004. They believe a ship struck the pregnant whale. Her skeleton sits close enough for visitors to touch.
- Exploring the Deep Sea (first floor) - This simulated submarine takes riders on a realistic-feeling deep sea exploration.
- Science Cafe (first floor) - This cafe will have typical lunch fare and outdoor seating along Jones Street. A great place to take a break while exploring the museum.
- WRAL Storm Central (second floor) - Track a hurricane or predict tomorrow's weather, this interactive exhibit has it all! You can also compare your predictions with those of WRAL Chief Meteorologist Greg Fishel.
- Naturalist Center (second floor) - Examine specimens of many different species up close. The real stars of this room are the flat table-top computers, which allow you to learn more about different animals. Just place a special card on the table to activate the program for an interactive learning experience.
- Gem and Mineral Case (first floor) - Located near the SECU Daily Planet viewing balcony, this case is home to four of the largest emeralds ever found in North America. The highlight is the 64-carat Carolina Emperor, the largest cut emerald in North America.
- Ancient Fossils, New Discoveries (third floor) - This exhibit examines species dating back to the dinosaur-era.
The museum is holding its 24-hour grand opening on Friday. If you can't wait until then, get a sneak peek at the museum with our interactive.
Also check out our pics from the past month of the museum.