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7 less-famous natural history museums worth a visit

By: Matt Hickman on July 1, 2013, 11:03 a.m.
Fernbank Museum of Natural History Mesozoic dinosaurs

Photo: Fernbank Museum of Natural History

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Fernbank Museum of Natural History

Established: 1992 in Atlanta

Head count: About 500,000 annual visitors

Beyond the fossils: A newbie as far as natural history museums go, the Fernbank Museum of Natural History has managed has established itself as a must-visit Atlanta cultural institution within a relatively short time. We’re going to go out on a limb and assume that a weekly event called Martinis and IMAX really helps pack the non-field-trip crowd in.

In addition to the intriguing intersection of cocktails and nature docs projected on a five-story-high screen, major draws at the museum are the diorama-heavy A Walk Through Time in Georgia exhibition and NatureQuest, an interactive experience that features hundreds of hands-on activities. And unsurprisingly, prehistoric lizards are a perennial favorite at the 160,000-square-foot Fernbank with paleontological attractions including Dinosaur Plaza and the Giants of the Mesozoic exhibition (pictured) located in the museum’s Great Hall. And on an interesting side note, Fernbank is one of the only museums in the world to grow out of a forest, in this case the largest old-growth urban Piedmont forest in the world.