New museum brings history to life

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Tuesday, September 11, 2012 - 4:56pm

East Texans no longer have to travel to cities like Dallas and Houston to get the experience of a Natural History Museum. The Naranjo Museum of Natural History is located off S. Front Street in Lufkin. The museum opened this past weekend and the owner says so far it has been an inspiring success.

Dr. Neal Naranjo had a dream of opening a museum that would bring history to life for the people in East Texas. He said, "I hope that the light bulb between their ears turns on, and so far with all the kids groups that have been here, we had the First Baptist Church of Groveton Vacation Bible School came and it just really inspired those kids."

The Naranjo Museum of Natural History in Lufkin has been over a year long project that has finally opened its doors to the public. Traveling to a bigger metropolitan city to visit and enjoy a museum can become quite costly, which is why Lufkin's museum brings that whole experience right to you.

Dr. Naranjo wanted children and adults to be able to come to a place close to home, where they could interact with artifacts, minerals, and fossils. He has been collecting artifacts and fossils for years and used to bring them to different schools to educate kids on natural history, but now the kids can come to the museum instead.

A visitor of the museum, Allison Mann, told KETK, "I think some of the local schools, it won't be such a far trip so they can come get a piece of history they wouldn't be able to get elsewhere, I look for a lot of kids to come see it, I think they'll get a real kick out of it." She also said that she was happy to see something in East Texas that she believes will benefit the community in so many ways.

Upon entering the museum you go through the beginning exhibits, the age of the dinosaurs, the age of the mammals, the age of the homo-sapiens, and end with a modern day astronaut and NASA exhibit. However unlike typical museums, the Naranjo Museum isn't just for show.

Dr. Naranjo demonstrated one of the exhibits that was interactive for visitors, "This gives young kids the idea of what a dig is like, cause we use a lot of brushes and they start brushing around."

Dr. Naranjo also told KETK that the New Mexico State Museum in Albuquerque has given his museum a dinosaur footprint from what is believed to be a dinosaur fossil. This footprint and the dinosaur fossils are on display in Lufkin.

The museum also has a gift shop full of t-shirts, toys, astronaut ice-cream and even real dinosaur fossils.

Dr. Naranjo said that they come across a lot of fossils that they can't use so they decided to sell them so the kids could own a piece of a dinosaur.

Children three and under are free, four to eighteen are $5.00, and adults are $7.50. The museum is open seven days a week and only closed on Christmas, giving you plenty of time to visit!

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