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The rebranded Texas Memorial Museum officially opens back up this weekend

The skeleton of a Tyrannosaur in the a museum lobby
Michael Minasi
The main lobby of the Texas Science and Natural History Museum features the “Texas Titans” — including a Tyrannosaur.

It’s been more than a year since the Texas Memorial Museum on the UT campus closed for renovations. It’s reopening Saturday as the Texas Science & Natural History Museum.

The museum opened in 1939, a few years after being conceived during the Texas Centennial Celebrations, which commemorated 100 years of the state's independence. Over the last year, the facility updated its infrastructure — things like lighting, plumbing and roofing all got upgrades.

Managing director, Carolyn Connerat, said renovations were necessary for such a historic building, but museum staff also used the time it was closed to rethink some of the exhibits.

"We wanted this to be much more engaging and colorful and informative for our visitors about life in the natural world,” Connerat said. “We're telling a story about life in the natural world, from the beginning of the formation of the planet, all the way through the age of the dinosaurs through current time.”

Two massive skeletons will now greet visitors as they enter the building. One has a 33-foot wingspan and dangles from the ceiling. The other is a tyrannosaur that's modeled around an upper jaw bone researchers found. Both fossils were found in Big Bend National Park.

“You'll see a lot more information than we ever had before about the Cretaceous period,” Connerat said. “There's also an interactive game you can play identifying what kind of reptile you might be. There's an audio feature where you can listen to what life in the Cretaceous period would have sounded like, too.”

The museum welcomed about 2,000 visitors during a soft opening earlier this month on Austin Museum Day. The grand opening runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. Visitors can expect family-friendly activities, games, snacks, live music and free admission to the museum.

Correction: An earlier version of this story stated there were two dinosaur skeletons at the entrance of the museum. The one dangling from the ceiling is a flying reptile, not a dinosaur.

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Haya Panjwani is a general assignment reporter, with a focus on Travis County. Got a tip? Email her at Follow her on Twitter @hayapanjw.
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