The best dinosaur museum is one that isn’t too technical all the time –one that makes learning fun and interesting. It’s a museum that can appeal to kids and adults alike. And maybe it’s a dinosaur museum that knows not everyone is into dinosaurs.
If that’s true, then the Museum of Ancient Life at Thanksgiving Point is the best dinosaur museum. Ever.
I was invited to tour the Museum of Ancient History by Thanksgiving Point and give an honest review. ”Hmmm,” I thought. “Dinosaurs are not really my thing.” But I figured it could be an interesting way to spend the hotter hours of an August day in Lehi, Utah. And maybe my toddler-aged grandchildren would be entertained. My group included my husband, my daughter, my 1-yr old and 3-yr old grandchildren and me. Just so you know, our visit turned out to be a lot of fun…
Maybe Not Everyone’s Into Dinosaurs
There’s more here than just dinosaur bones. On this visit, we saw a fascinating exhibit on geometry called the Geometry Playground, on loan from San Francisco’s Exploratorium. With shapes to climb on and through, and “sculptures” made out of everyday objects, it was very interesting. (Note to self: What can I build with pencils?) There were very intricate origami designs of bugs and birds, with the folding diagram displayed so you could replicate them yourself. Uh-huh. Well, not me, but maybe someone else! #byumechanicalengineeringdept
You will also find a 3D Mammoth Screen Theatre, a gift shop, the Expedition Cafe, and a Jr. Paleo Lab where kids can learn more about archaelogy with hands-on activities. Right now, the theatre is showing movies about underwater sea life, China, and asteroids.
Appeals to Kids and Adults Alike
Nearly every exhibit has a way for adults and children to learn. Simple hands-on activities for the little ones, questions to make you think, and placards that explain information in greater detail.
Makes Learning Fun and Interesting
This is what really impressed me the most. It became fun to learn because of the clever ideas used to teach. I never would have thought of creating a mud-and-water exhibit so that kids (and adults) could see first-hand how easy it would be for dinosaurs to be buried in layers of silt. What kid doesn’t like to play in dirt and water?! (Don’t worry — they have waterproof aprons for the kids to wear!)
There was a sandbox with buried bones that kids could find by brushing and scraping away the sand. My granddaughter enjoyed pushing buttons, lifting flaps, and climbing through things to learn and find new facts about dinosaurs. It was fun to watch her explore and learn by doing so.
We also found lots of surprises! Like the giant prehistoric shark that looks like it could eat you for lunch…a starlit tunnel you get to walk through in the dark…and close-up samples of amber where you really CAN see preserved insects.
Bottom Line…it’s a great dinosaur museum
If you or your kids love dinosaurs, this is the best dinosaur museum! If you’re not really into dinosaurs, this is still the best dinosaur museum because it will hold your interest and even provide some fun moments, especially if you visit with your children or grandchildren. We spent a little more than an hour here, but we were dealing with young ones who needed a nap. Plan to spend at least 2-3 hours — more if you visit the theatre, gift shop or cafe.
The price is $15 for adults, $12 for seniors and kids 3-12, while ages 2 and under are free.
The Mammoth Screen 3D Theatre is additional: $8.50 adults/$7.00 children & seniors, but only $6.00 if you’ve already paid for museum admission.
Fun to Know
- Once a month, you can attend a Late Night with Rex, an evening activity that includes popcorn and drinks, a movie, paleontology classes and a scavenger hunt.
- There’s a Molding & Casting class on Saturdays and holidays
- A Fossil Preparation class will inspire your kids to be future archaeologists, held on Saturdays and holidays.
- You can even celebrate your birthday here with a special Ancient Life birthday party!
- The best deal is the Explorer Pass, which allows you to visit all of Thanksgiving Point’s attractions in one day, for only $24.95/19.95.
Be sure to read my reviews of Thanksgiving Point’s other venues:
Are YOU into dinosaurs? What do you like best about dinosaur museums?