Previewing the Perot Museum of Nature and Science, from A to Z

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It took the folks at the Perot Museum three years, almost to the day, to build the 180,000 square feet of architecture, green initiative, science, nature, families, technology and awesome that were unveiled to the media this week.

But there's just so much more than that. So I'm going to paint you a picture with alphabetized words, to attempt to give you the gist of the massive amount of nature and science inside the great big grey box.

Architecture. The most all-encompassing of all the attributes of the Perot Museum of Nature and Science, this place is an architect's wet dream. Several of them, actually. There's head architect Thom Mayne of Morphosis Architects, Dallas-based Talley Associates on the landscape architecture front, Dallas-based Good, Fulton and Farrell and more.

Bones. As in, giant dinosaur bones. It's everything you want in a museum, where science, nature and history become one inside a 35-foot Malawisaurus or an 85-foot Alamosaurus.

Container Store. A sponsor, the award-winning Dallas purveyor of organizational hopes and dreams donated lots and lots of products to help organize the 180,000 square foot museum.

Dell. The giant computer company that's not Apple or Microsoft donated six million dollars in hardware and ongoing support to the Museum.

Escalator. Let's face it, this 54-foot, glass encased beauty is the face of the Museum.

Fitness Simulations. There's a Motion Lab and Running Wall in the Sports Hall that features Wii-like fitness interaction on a grand scale.

Geodes. The jewelry of the earth, these beauties show their insides to the curious by way of the Lydia Hill Gems and Mineral Hall. There's even a big one called "grape jelly," because it's purple.

Halls. There are eleven of them, plus six learning labs, 88 "dancing water" molecules and 298 seats in the Hoglund Foundation Theater.

Innovation. The focus of the Perot Museum, from the beginning, has been inspiring minds through nature and science. Innovation is part of that, and the hope is that innovation is also the product.

Journey. Guests will make T. Boone Pickens happy as they travel virtually through 9,000 feet of gas well in the Shale Voyager.

Kids. This museum isn't just for the children-folk. The exhibits, learning labs and halls are designed for layered experiences, which is a fancy way of saying that guests young and old will have lots to learn and plenty to enjoy.

Leed certification. Just one of the three green-minded certifications that the Perot Museum satisfies.

Mountain, Green. If you're a Green Mountain Energy company and a member of the Sun Club, you've donated to the Perot Museum and other non-profit organizations that promote green learning. National Geographic. A natural choice, the Museum has partnered with National Geographic to offer movies and presentations like Meerkats 3-D.

Ornithology. You can study a ton of birds in this place. You can even design your very own bird species by selecting attributes from six different touch-screen stanchions.

Perot family. Obviously the name on the building belongs to the Perots; the family's gift of $50 million paved the way for the project. Board of Directors Chair Carolyn Perot Rathjen describes the gift as a way for Margot and Ross Perot's five children to honor their parents and celebrate the city of Dallas.

Questions. You'll have them. That's just fine. There are experts and museum staff and interactive learning elements bursting with answers.

Reel. On media day, we watched the 3D Sizzle Reel in the Hoglund Foundation Theater. While it tends to belabor the traditional movie theater experience, 3D technology feels right at home here. Don't miss the monsters.

Skyline. A child-sized version of the Dallas Skyline invites little ones to climb over, around and through.

Tornadoes and earthquakes. Experience two forms of Mother Nature's wrath firsthand inside the Rees-Jones Foundation Dynamic Earth Hall. I rode the earthquake from "Mild" to "Extreme" (or as I call it, "Apocalyptic.")

Up. You can start on the first floor and work your way up, but most recommend that you start aboard that iconic escalator, head up to the fourth floor and work your way back down.

Virtual Reality. Technology is paramount, obviously, in the big gray box. So interactivity and virtual reality abounds throughout the exhibit halls. Look for everything from musical stairs to birds you control with your arms to wooden tiles that flip when you move.

Wolfgang Puck. The famous chef is at the helm of the culinary program at Perot, from café choices to catered events.

Xylophone. Outside as museum-goers make their way to the entrance, they'll find a giant, blue "Musical Forest" with a xylophone just begging to be played.

Yowza, that's a lot of money! Yes, $185 million dollars -- all of them donated -- were spent to put the Perot Museum on the map.

Zoology. Or perhaps more specifically, taxidermied zoology. There's a lot of stuffed creatures, furry and feathered, throughout the Museum.

The Perot Museum of Nature and Science opens its doors to the public on Saturday, December 1.

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