Throughout Operation Hometown Travel, I’ve tried to share a cross-section of events, activities, and destinations in Halifax and around Nova Scotia that showcase some of best/most fun things to do here. Unfortunately, I haven’t been to as many museums as I would like, but I was able to remedy that this past weekend.

Joined by intrepid friends Janet (of Popcorn Dinner), L-A (of Fashionable People, Questionable Things), and Melany (who isn’t a blogger, but is a wicked Twitterer), we hit the Museum of Natural History in central Halifax, another of Nova Scotia’s 27 provincial museums.

My first trip to the museum was when it opened in its current location back in the 1980s. It was a school field trip (for younger readers, we did fairly exotic things like that back then). After a thrilling morning under the giant whale, we sat on the lawn outside and one of the teachers distributed McDonald’s cheeseburgers. Which was also exotic in the 1980s. The museum has changed a lot since those early years, but is still a great education disguised as a lot of fun.
Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History

Meeting the residents

The museum is home to many creatures who are found in nature around our province, and there are many opportunities to interact with them up close and personal. Like these Green Frogs.

Nova Scotia Museum Natural History frog

This week saw the hatching of a batch/litter (?) of Northern Ringneck snakes, one of which turned out to be albino. No one from my gang would go see 10-centimetre baby snakes with me, but I managed to survive the ordeal. For the record, Nova Scotia’s five native snake species are harmless.

Nova Scotia Museum Natural History albino ringneck snake

The museum has many interpretative displays to introduce people to the many birds, fish, plants and animals who live here. I’ve been this close to a moose in real life, but it was much less panic-inducing in the museum.

Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History Moose

Outside of the museum, a particularly fragrant tree is the summer home of a large group of butterflies. Any time someone would walk by, they’d scatter into a beautiful, chaotic cloud.

Nova Scotia Museum Natural History butterflies

Gus, the surprisingly fast tortoise

The elder statesman of the museum is Gus, a 90-year old gopher tortoise who has lived at the museum for 65 years. He has generations of fans, and no visit is complete without a stop by to say hello.

Museum of Natural History Gus Gopher Tortoise

Be sure to schedule your visit to coincide with his daily constitutional, which happens outside in the summer. At 3:30 pm, the assembled crowd follows a museum staffer, Pied Piper-style, to hang out and explore with Gus in the great outdoors.

Nova Scotia Museum Natural History Gus gopher tortoise walk

You wouldn’t think anything 90 years old – or a tortoise – would move quickly, but we had a lot of fun racing after Gus as he took off on a freedom ride across the lawn.

After most of the crowd dispersed, he headed for a little garden plot where he’s been digging, and proceeded to tear it up. Again, for a 90-year old creature, he had remarkable digging ability.

Nova Scotia Museum Natural History Gus gopher tortoise walk

He was pretty proud of his progress digging a burrow under the garden and happily posed with his handiwork before going back in for the evening – and whatever happens in the museum after the humans leave.

Nova Scotia Museum Natural History Gus gopher tortoise walk

Out of this World

The main purpose of our visit was to catch a special exhibit – Out of this World – before it closed for good the next day. Out of this World featured costumes and artifacts from some of the best-loved and best-known television and movies ever. We saw George Clooney’s Batman suit, loads of items from Star Trek and Star Wars, Indiana Jones’ leather jacket and whip, and much, much more. [For a real movie-lover’s take on the exhibit, check out Janet’s post on Popcorn Dinner.]

Like Arnold Schwarzenegger’s jacket from The Terminator:

Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History Out of This World

The amazing bejeweled Riddler costume, worn by Jim Carrey in Batman Forever.

Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History Out of This World Riddler

The Robin costume from the old school Batman television series.

Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History Out of This World Robin

The most exciting thing for me was the jumpsuit and proton pack used by Dan Ackroyd in Ghostbusters.

Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History Out of This World Ghostbusters

I walked around singing, “Bustin’ makes me feel good” so many times that I successfully implanted the Ghostbusters theme song in my friends’ heads. Mission accomplished.

Who ya gonna call?

Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History Out of This World Ghostbusters

A ‘Superstar’ Fossil

The most recent star at the museum is, in fact, a superstar. A local family was out for a walk when they uncovered one of the most significant fossil finds in the province’s history. This partial skeleton of a sail-back reptile, nicknamed Superstar, is around 300 million years old, and will be thoroughly examined in the months to come.

Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History superstar fossil

There is much, much more to the Museum of Natural History. For kids (and big kids) with an interest in science, there is plenty to amuse and inform.

See for yourself: 

Museum of Natural History
1747 Summer Street, Halifax

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