TRAVEL HERE: I LOVE & HATE THE NEW PEROT MUSEUM
Warning this post has a split personality. Part of me absolutely loved the new Perot Museum of Nature and Science. Part of me didn’t. Let’s start wit the part of me that did.
A Good Reason to Visit
I’ve been looking for an excuse to visit the new Perot and was very glad when when the UTD alumni association invited me to a mixer there. I hoped that we’d get free reign of the facility and be able to check out the whole thing, but whatever was up, I wanted to see it.
A few days ahead, they emailed me to remind me of the date, but I didn’t open the emails until the morning of – then I started to worry. Yes, the email did kindly remind me of the mixer, but they also warned me of potential parking hazards. I was strongly warned to use the $15 valet service, because around the corner from the museum is the American Airlines Arena and the Mavs were playing. I was advised that there was a $10 lot around the corner, but Bill hates to pay for parking, so the event was not exactly starting out on his best foot.
I forwarded the email to him to warn him about the parking and he seemed to take the news in stride, but that was because he assumed we could park at the DMA for free. We’re members there and it’s just a few blocks from the Perot. Too bad, so sad; the DMA was closed on the evening in question. Plan A failed. Then we left a little late, traffic was awful and we made a wrong turn of two. Isn’t that always the way? If there had been a Plan B, we weren’t doing real well on it either.
But God was good. Bill missed the turn for the $10 parking and landed next to a parking meter. For four quarters and quick stroll, we got the evening back on track. Inside the Perot, we were given a nice glass of wine and offered some lovely hors d’oeurvres. We were then treated to a series of neat little speeches that commended me for graduating from such an up and coming university.
Exploring the Museum
Released from the formalities we began to explore the parts of the museum we were given access to: the children’s area, the sports area and a traveling exhibition space. The traveling exhibition space was of great interest to my husband, a wannabe architect/decorator/carpenter. The development and construction of the museum were covered in a very hands-on, kinetic manner – just like he likes.
The kids’ area was darling. There were things to climb, handles to rotate, water to splash and a farmers market with plastic fruits and vegetable to sort. We even found glass cages with exciting things like snakes in them. I could imagine about one hundred kids in there having the time of their lives. Then I realized that right outside the door was a sandbox of enormous proportions. Kids could not only get wet; they could also get dirty! Oh to be young again!
Perhaps you are getting the drift of this place – innovative, interactive, hands-on… Well, the sports area was no exception. A race track encouraged you to kick off your shoes and virtually race sports greats, a dinosaur or even the person you came with. On the opposite wall they used freeze frame photography to help you pinpoint the weaknesses of your football pass or pirouette, whichever you were most interested in improving. They didn’t have a golf club, but Bill used a hockey stick to get his swing filmed. The crowd loved it.
So What’s the Hate Part
So what did that other (fussy) part of me find to complain about. Well, it’s really a matter of taste for one thing and probably the fact that we entered the building from a secondary entrance for another.
When I think of a museum, I lean towards classical architecture. The Philadelphia Museum of Art, for instance. Now, that’s a museum. It’s not that I don’t like contemporary architecture. My home is contemporary. I love what I.M. Pei did for the DMA. I’m one of the people who defends the Winspear Opera House. But the Perot is just a little further out there than I’m comfortable with.
I do find the outside compelling. I still crane my neck when I pass it and can’t wait until I’ve seen all the insides. It’s new and different. I want to know how the exterior interacts with the interior. But the lower level entry used for the UTD event was disappointing. It made me feel as if I’d happened into a constructions site. It doesn’t matter where I enter the DMA, I’m instantly attuned to the building. Not so at at the Perot.
I can tell you that when I explored the various exhibits, the architecture actually became transparent. I was able to look at things without the building getting in the way. That was very good, but I wanted the WOW factor. Hopefully one day soon I’ll walk into the main entry and be blown out of the water, but bringing me into the Field Street Entry was a disappointment.
I remember stepping into the Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry. I loved the classical exterior, but I was thunderstruck the moment I stepped inside. I literally stood there for a few minutes in awe. I knew I’d arrived someplace important. That’s what I want from the Perot.
The Field Street entrance lobby of the Perot just looks unfinished. The hall was narrow and I wasn’t sure I was supposed to be there. The primary surface I saw was raw concrete. A large staircase commands a lot of attention and we soon discovered it was musical, which was enchanting, but it looked like it was covered in linoleum. Somebody is probably going to tell me it’s some really expensive surface I should be impressed with, but it looked like linoleum to me.
So have you been yet? What did you think? I can assure you I’ll be going back and exploring the Perot deeper. I won’t have any trouble getting Bill to go along with me, if I promise he can do the freeze frame filming again. He’ll probably wear sneakers so he can race the virtual cheetah. Should you go to the Perot? Absolutely! Don’t you dare miss it! Just be sure to go in the main entrance.