By turning a large silver wheel, visitors to the new Perot Museum in Dallas get to “crack open” the gigantic “Grape Jelly” amethyst geode to reveal the vivid purple crystalline structure inside. Spinning the wheel in the opposite direction magically closes the geode, returning the specimen to its original boulder-like appearance.
The five-foot-tall, 1.5-ton geode is one of the most popular attractions at the museum, which opened a little over a year ago. Amethyst, incidentally, is February’s official birthstone.
So, whether you’re a February baby, a fan of amethyst, love the color purple or just want to marvel at the sight of something otherworldly, a trip to the museum’s Lyda Hill Gems and Minerals Hall on Level 3 will not disappoint.
As they interact with high-definition videos, digital puzzles and touch-me specimens, kids and kids-at-heart will have a blast learning about the colors, shapes and hardnesses of Earth’s original rock stars.
Visitors will learn where crystals come from and how they form by viewing a time-lapse video of the birth and growth of various minerals.
They also get to explore the physical and optical properties of various colored stones. In one station, visitors get to see minerals under different light sources and be astonished by how some specimens take on vibrant hues under ultraviolet bulbs.
The $185 million Perot Museum of Nature and Science, which opened in December of 2012, is named for Ross and Margot Perot. It was made possible through the generosity of the Perot family and many other Dallas-area benefactors. The 180,000-square-foot museum houses 11 permanent exhibitions and one traveling exhibition. All of them are highly interactive and designed to engage young people. In fact, the museum welcomes more than 2,000 schoolchildren each day.
Admission costs $15 for adults, $10 for children and $12 for students 12 to 17. Toddlers under 2 get in for free.
Grape Jelly photos by Jason Janik. Perot Museum photo by Joe Mabel.