It might seem strange to see a Gutenberg Bible page pulled using mid-1400s technology, or the Declaration of Independence being printed on an authentic 19th-century iron hand-press. At The Museum of Printing History, where local artists give live demonstrations of real, working artifacts, these sights are almost commonplace. In its mission to preserve and share the history of written communication, the organization functions as part museum and part interactive classroom. A permanent collection highlights preserved prints and gear from around the world?from ancient Mesopotamian clay tablets to Civil War-era newspapers. This collection even includes a display of equipment and documents belonging to Texas' first printer.
However, the museum's four galleries and 14,000 square feet of space aren't just reserved for relics. Every year, staff curate 12 rotating exhibits that, in the past, have covered the work of contemporary printmakers and photographers or explored the evolution of modern printing around the world. Meanwhile, an on-site print shop holds hands-on, all-ages workshops in typography, paper-making, and other forms of print-based art.
At the Health Museum, you are the exhibit—literally. The permanent feature You: The Exhibit lets guests explore the ins-and-outs of their own bodies and the effects of their lifestyles. There's the Body Scanner, which reveals their internal organs in real time. There's the Feature Changer, which can digitally alter one's image to a different gender or ethnicity. And there's the Age-O-Matic, which can show onlookers what they will look like in 30 years—and how that appearance will differ if they smoke or overeat.
That educational interaction is a hallmark of the museum, which aims to spark curiosity about health and the human body in visitors of all ages. The exploratory atmosphere continues in the Amazing Body Pavilion's Texas-sized organs, such as a 27-foot intestine, a walk-in brain, and an enormous eyeball. A four-chambered heart display shows how the engine of the cardiovascular system runs, and the Scream Booth lets kids measure the pitch of their shrieks. Through these signature displays, and a varied schedule of special exhibits, The Health Museum inspires guests to explore their own inner world.
Moon rocks. Mission control. Space suits. If it's associated with space travel in the American imagination, it's probably well represented at Space Center Houston. The 183,000-square-foot complex serves as the official visitor center of NASA'S Johnson Space Center. More than 250 artifacts, exhibits, and attractions dot the space like stars in a pocket-size galaxy, fueling a passion for science, engineering, math, and technology with authentic remnants of past space missions.
Just a few of the exhibits likely to inspire awe: a full-scale replica of the space shuttle built using schematics and blueprints; the actual mission control facility where technicians monitored nine Gemini missions as well as every Apollo mission; and select pieces from the largest collection of moon rocks and lunar samples found anywhere. Space Center Houston also asks visitors to contemplate the future with exhibits that explore topics such as the challenges of successfully sending astronauts to Mars.
The Houston Fire Museum celebrates the blaze-battling bravery of Houston's early firefighters as well as the tools they used in their line of work. Historical exhibits such as the 1937 Chevrolet pumper truck and the 1895 Ahrens Fox horse-drawn steamer give guests a look at the earliest fire trucks. During guided tours, visitors can follow the steps of a 1950s firefighter as he responds to a call.
But the museum is more than just a history of firefighting. Guests can soak up practical fire-prevention tips and learn how to draft an escape plan for their own home. In the Junior Firehouse, kids can host birthdays, where they dress in miniature bunker coats and slide down an authentic fire station pole padded at the bottom with gym mats and a pile of friendly, furry dalmatians.
The Houston-Galveston area is train country. Multiple railroad-related museums call the community home, as do approximately 20 model railroad clubs. So, how does a person gain entry into this not-so-secret club of train enthusiasts? Simply walk into the Big Texas Train Show, where 100,000 square feet of convention space immerses visitors in a train-filled world.
Here, various displays capture the train-enthusiast's imagination. Model trains?ranging from tiny Z scale locomotives to full-size garden trains?weave around meticulously constructed tracks. And vendors sell the supplies that people need to build their own routes at home, including the one secret ingredient needed to create steam. In addition, a wide variety of kid-friendly activities await little ones.
The Heritage Society was created in 1954 as part of an effort to rescue the 19th-century Kellum-Noble House from destruction. Since its founding, the organization has taken over the operation of nine additional historic buildings, all of which have become part of a 10-acre museum complex in Sam Houston Park. At each of its buildings, the Heritage Society strives to connect guests to the past, exhibiting and celebrating the region?s diverse history in the process.