The three-story museum has 10,000 square feet of exhibit space, and houses an extensive collection of artifacts. The museum’s planetarium is a full-dome, digital wonder boasting the sharpest image in the state.
The museum is a resource for learning, especially for teachers and students in the STEM disciplines of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The majority of the museum’s exhibitions are produced with the help of local scientists and experts who lend a flavor to exhibits as distinct as South Louisiana’s food and culture.
LSM offers exhibits and programming focused on a variety of areas, including:
- Geology and paleontology
- Astronomy and space exploration
- Biology and environmental science
- Engineering, architecture, industrial design
- Emerging technologies
One of LSM’s most impressive offerings is the exhibit, “Fossil Giants: Dinosaurs and Mammals,” which features dynamically posed fossil casts of creatures spanning millions of years. This exhibit illustrates the evolutionary process of dinosaurs and mammals, ranging from the Triassic Period to the Cenozoic Era.
Fossil Giants opened in April 2014 in partnership with the University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s School of Geosciences.
“This collection is a feast for the eyes,” said Kevin Krantz, LSM’s director and curator. “Visitors who have seen other dinosaur exhibits will immediately notice how many full skeletal casts are on display in this exhibition. This vast array of skulls and skeletons will take a total of three years to unfold.”
Adjacent to the dinosaur exhibit is a collection that’s designed to dazzle — fossils, rocks and minerals, including an impressive selection of gemstones. The museum houses the university’s Geoscience Research Lab along with its geological collection that includes thousands of specimens acquired over five decades. A large window system topped with video monitors lets visitors view the work of the researchers. The exhibit displays a steady rotation of the entire collection and includes information about the chemical makeup and everyday uses of the minerals on display.
On the museum’s second floor, its 80-seat planetarium is devoted to exploring the heavens. The planetarium’s dome seems to disappear as the door to the universe opens for its guests.
One popular cosmological staple, “The Sky Tonight,” helps visitors discover the ever-changing night sky. The planetarium also offers several themed shows designed to safely lead you through the cosmos without ever leaving your seat. The LSM planetarium staff is engaged in the community. They frequently set up telescopes outside that allow the public to safely view sunspots, the night sky, and celestial events as they occur.