A century ago, most travelers had no choice but to explore the world by foot, unless, of course, they were rich enough to own a Wonkavator. With that in mind, they probably would appreciate visiting the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum?a facility that, in a sense, lets guests cover 26,000 square miles on foot in one visit. But that?s not the only big number behind the museum?s operation: it also houses more than 2 million artifacts, spanning 14,000 years of the region?s history. Inside, guests can marvel at themed displays, including those that showcase the Plains? roots in paleontology, archeology, and petroleum. They can also relive the hardships and courage of living in the Old West while plodding through a life-size Pioneer Town.
Bronze castings, beadwork, and art by more than 100 artists of the American Plains and Southwest line the walls at the Kwahadi Museum, providing visitors an enlightening glimpse of the Kwahadi, a band of Comanche people who hunted on the High Plains of Texas. The adobe-styled museum also displays the paintings, manuscripts, photographs, and artifacts of Thomas E. Mails, the late artist and author who has fed hungry libraries with 14 tasty tomes about American Indians, including Mystic Warriors of the Plains. Upcoming exhibits include the Perry Null Game Animal collection and Birds of the High Plains, and lucky visitors might catch one of the Kwahadi dancers' regular performances at the museum. Feel free to barter currency for elegant jewelry, pottery, paintings, dolls at the Trading Post, the museum's gift shop, which hosts collectibles from more than 100 native artisans.
The Amarillo Botanical Gardens showcase foliage indigenous to both Texas and far-off exotic lands, such as Oklahoma. The guided tour highlights the varied plants that thrive in Texas's hot, arid climate, such as the yellow plant that lends the Amarillo garden—and the town itself—its Spanish name. As much a tour of the 4-acre landscape as of its plants, the expedition crosses under a wooden pergola into one of Amarillo's several rose gardens, strolls past statues of fiddle-playing frogs, and climbs to higher altitudes in the High Desert garden. In the butterfly garden, the lush, delicious greenery cradles developing lepidoptera through every stage, from larva to Mothra, and the Meadow Garden's open grassland lets wild horseflies gallop free.
At Meslands Community College's Dinosaur Museum, they don't just bring back the bones to put on display?every summer, the public is invited to enroll in a field class and get their hands dusty. Even if time in the field isn't your style, the museum's wealth of bronze castings are finger-friendly, and visitors young and old can take a hands-on approach to more than 150 million years of natural history.
Three years after founding Louise Hopkins Underwood Center for the Arts in 1997, Louise Hopkins Underwood’s operation finally found a permanent home in the city's vacated Fire Department Administration Building. These days, her vision for a thriving contemporary-arts community has grown into a four-block campus with nine buildings spread across 64,000 square feet. The LHUCA team repurposed those structures—warehouses and former municipal buildings among them—into arts spaces that include an exhibition hall and four galleries whose nearly 5,000 square feet display local, national, and international artists. The renovated Icehouse accommodates rehearsals and performances of dance, music, and performance art, and the 159-seat Firehouse Theatre's 5.1-surround-sound mix brings films to life more effectively than hiring Dr. Frankenstein as a projectionist. Along with showcasing the work of prominent figures, the center's teachers nurture up-and-coming artists with classes in disciplines such as oil painting, bagpiping, and creative writing.
Lauded in a review by Frommer’s, Science Spectrum Museum educates youngsters on myriad scientific subjects—from technology to animals to outer space—with more than 250 exhibits and a scholastic slate of visually appealing movies. Teensy scientists and their parental counterparts can soak up cleverly communicated knowledge while learning about the biology of the Brazos River, the science of sports, the elements of flight, and the physics of Einstein's half-court slam dunks during his days playing for the Celtics.