Summer 2014 Museum Guide: Get Out And Do Science!

The summer is approaching, and it's a perfect time for a road trip. So we've compiled a list of "must see" science events and museum exhibits, aroudn the globe. Plus some specialty museums that are awesome in their own right. Get ready for a packed summer!

Summer Stargazing

Canada Science & Technology Museum

This museum has a wonderful program of summer stargazing and solar observing, thanks to their amazing Helen Sawyer Hogg Observatory. They even have a special "Meteor Shower Movie Night" at the beginning of August.

Where: Ottawa, Ontario

Intrepid Museum

On May 29th, July 18th and August 23rd, the Intrepid Museum keeps the pier open for a free night of stargazing with local astronomers. Plus it's pretty cool to look at stars from the deck of a retired aircraft carrier. You must register to participate. High-powered telescopes will be provided, but you are welcome to bring your own.

Where: New York, NY

Bryce Canyon

Every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, the Bryce Canon and their "Dark Rangers" hold a pretty spectacular stargazing session. Far away from light pollution, you can see quite a bit of stars at this National Park. But on June 25th through the 29th, there is a bad-ass ASTRONOMY FESTIVAL that is jam packed with awesome activities. Here's some footage from last year's festival (thanks to Geoff Goins for posting this on youtube). It is astounding, and officially on my bucket list.

Where: Bryce Canyon, UT

Chabot Space & Science Center

Chabot has celestial viewing day and night, but every quarter they host a "Star Stories" night — here's the description: "Lay on the grass and look up at the stars. Bring your sleeping bags and blankets and come listen to an expert stargazer explain the mythology behind the constellations, stories from the night sky as seen throughout history and look for planets and other clues to help orient you to the night's sky." Doesn't that just sound like heaven?

Where: Oakland, CA

Special Events

These special events range from one day to a whole week long.

Summer 2014 Museum Guide: Get Out And Do Science!

Bug Fest - Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University

On August 9th through the 10th, the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University (the oldest Natural History Museum in the Western Hemisphere) hosts a Bug Fest with all sorts of insects that you're allowed to touch! Entomologists will be on hand to answer questions and lead bug walks. There's also a "Roach Race," which sounds like a NY sidewalk, only with better betting odds.

Where: Philadelphia, PA

International Astronomy Day

May 10th is International Astronomy Day at the Ontario Science Centre, which includes solar observing, planetarium shows and a special lecture on Astronomy in Medieval Islam, by Dr. Ingrid Hehmeyer with Ryerson University.

Where: Toronto, Ontario

Tinkerfest - Museum of Discovery

The Museum of Discovery sets up 40 various "tinkering" stations for hands on learning on June 15th. The Tinkerfest spans all over the museum and includes the chance to work with 3D printers, meet robot makers, take apart a car, water balloon catapults, rocket launchers and cardboard cities (created by the kids).

Where: Little Rock, AR

International Blacksmith Day - Metal Museum

Not only did we not know that there was an International Blacksmith Day, but we also were unaware of the amazing Metal Museum. This place is dedicated to fine metal workers and metal craftsmanship, and that is just awesome. And on May 24th, the museum celebrates Blacksmith day — with free admission and demonstrations from local blacksmiths. They also have a special day later in the year, where you can bring items that need, um, blacksmithing to the museum, and blacksmiths there will fix them for you. Wonderful!

Where: Memphis, Tennessee

Exhibits

Summer 2014 Museum Guide: Get Out And Do Science!

Collider - Science Museum

Can't just wander into CERN? Then just head over to the Collider exhibit at the Science Museum in South Kensington, London. For a ticket price of £7, you can step into a recreation of the Large Hadron Collider. From there videos, models and actual scientists from CERN will help explain what it is the LHC is hoping to accomplish.

Where: London, UK

Vanished Birds of North America - Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

Birds! Birds! Birds! Everything you could possibly want to know about the great birds of North America that have all but disappeared. The exhibit runs from June 24, 2014 to October 2015. And includes tales of "the last passenger pigeon", the great auk, the heath hen and more. These birds, where did they go?

Where: Washington D.C.

Summer 2014 Museum Guide: Get Out And Do Science!

Pterosaurs & The Power of Poison - American Museum of Natural History

Two amazing exhibits are at the New York AMNH. One is all about the winged reptiles from our past, the pterosaur. And the other is all about poison. Learn absolutely everything about poison, venom and how it works. Plus get a glimpse at the many creatures who were blessed with the deadly toxin, and how they use it (and really so much more).

Where: New York, NY

David Bowie Is - Museum of Contemporary Art

Okay look — this really begins in September, but we're so excited we had to include it. Running from September 2014 to January 2015 at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, this Bowie retrospective is insane. It has everything from outfits to pages of handwritten lyrics, wild costumery, light shows, bananas performance videos and more. It is a completely immersive experience, you feel like you're traveling through Bowie's history, and watching him evolve. The exhibit premiered at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, but now it's headed to the States. We are not worthy.

Where: Chicago, IL

Pay to Play Experiences

Georgia Aquarium - Animal Meet and Greet

The Georgia Aquarium in Atalanta is absolutely astounding. It's a deeply immersive, very hands on place with a focus on getting things right. Plus they have three whale sharks so that is just amazing (I highly recommend going and just meditating with the whale sharks in the early, quiet moments of the day).

But their latest addition is something that a lot of aquariums have been tinkering with, animal encounters. For a fee, you can have a one-on-one experience with a trainer from the Georgia Aquarium. I recently met two penguins (for around $60.00) in a controlled, private encounter. It was a delight, of course we were heavily prepared and had to keep all our belongings far away from the animal (so no penguin selfless that is dangerous and disruptive to the bird) but I did get to pet a real life penguin and learn all sorts of fun facts about Penguins and that was lovely.

Where: Atlanta, Georgia

Shedd Aquarium - Trainer for a Day

The Shedd Aquarium is another member of the "pay to play" club. And they have a whole litany of things you can do but the most tempting is probably the trainer for a day, which costs a whooping $325.00 but you get one-on-one time with a trainer. Plus it sounds like you get educated, which is a plus.

Where: Chicago, IL

Specialty Museums You Shouldn't Miss

Summer 2014 Museum Guide: Get Out And Do Science!

Neon Museum

The Neon Museum sounds like a wonderful graveyard for the grand old Vegas. Established in 1996 and officially opened in October 2012, the Neon Museum is a non-profit preservation of Vegas times gone by. And if you want historical signs, this place has 'em from the Stardust letters to massive light up genie lamps from the Sahara. And the nostalgia extends even onto the museum itself. The whole thing is housed in (and around) a rescued La Concha Motel (which looks like it was ripped straight out of the 60s). And yes, they offer night tours.

Where: Las Vegas, NV

Image via Cool Hunting (lots more great images there as well).

Spy Museum Bus Tour

The physical Spy Museum is fun, but what's even better is the bus tour. This way you get to drive around the Federal City learning about modern day sports pubs that used to be 70s swingers clubs for politicians that the CIA had to infiltrate. Plus you get to learn what all the unmarked buildings are hiding (or were hiding) along with a great collection of wonderful spy blunders. Learn about history and technology and espionage all while sitting comfortably in a bus (which is great if it's raining or insanely hot).

Where: Washington D.C.

Summer 2014 Museum Guide: Get Out And Do Science!

Silver Ball Museum

A pinball museum, stuffed wall-to-wall with pinball machines. Bonus: you don't have to pay per machine. You pay for the time you spend there, and once your time is up you're done.

Where: Asbury Park, NJ

Summer 2014 Museum Guide: Get Out And Do Science!

Strataca (Salt Mine Museum)

Journey into a gigantic salt mine and take a ride through winding dark corridors. You can even explore an untouched part of the mine that was left exactly as it was left over 50 years ago. And if you buy the "dark ride" tour, you even get to take a piece of salt home with you. Warning: no children under the age of 4 are allowed underground.

Where: Hutchinson, KS

Summer 2014 Museum Guide: Get Out And Do Science!

Frontiers of Flight

So many planes. The Frontiers of Flight Museum has over 30 aircrafts including early flyers including a full size model of the 1903 Wright Flyer, Moon Rocks and the Apollo 7. Plus the ties with Southwest Airlines gave it a complete Boeing 737-300 aircraft, and the nose section of an earlier 737-200. Both which are available to the public.

Where: Dallas, Texas

UFO Exhibition

Not so much science, but definitely a lot of alien abduction theories. The UFO Exhibition houses just about every alien theory (good or bad) you've ever heard told by a friend of a friend. Also, it looks completely bonkers and we want to go now.

Where: Myrtle Beach, SC

Summer 2014 Museum Guide: Get Out And Do Science!

New York Transit Museum

The name does not even come close to selling the treasure trove of goodies that await you in this subway station-turned-museum. First you get to learn all about the construction of the elaborate collection of subway tunnels in NYC (which is dang fascinating) then you get to play with rows and rows of turnstiles throughout the ages, and below awaits a collection of various subway cars from just about every decade the subway was running in NYC. And yes, you can go inside and sit in the seats and ogle at the old-timey ads.

Where: Brooklyn, NY

Tom image from JP Stanley on Flickr.