Mayborn Museum

“Engage, explore, enjoy” at Waco’s Mayborn Museum

If time travel through Texas sounds like fun, here’s a destination that will deliver: Pack a picnic lunch and strike out early for Waco’s Mayborn Museum. Located on Baylor University’s campus just off I-35, the beautifully planned museum complex features amenities such as a gift shop, theater, party room, and Mrs. Moen’s Neighborhood for wee folks.

Visitors can browse exhibits showing geology millions of years ago, fossilized skeletons from the Cretaceous era, dramatic models of long-dead creatures, representations of Texas geographical regions, and the march of human settlement along the Balcones Fault and Brazos River system.

Three different museum areas offer different experiences.

Depending on weather, visitors might enjoy going first to the Governor Bill and Vara Daniel Historic Village after securing tickets at the museum. Both kids and adults can burn off energy outside and enjoy some fresh air after the drive. The Village, peaceful among pecan trees, features buildings typical of late nineteenth-century Texas farm communities. There’s a barn and smithy, a schoolhouse, a general store full of daily necessities, a country church, and furnished houses for both planter and tenant. Docents help children experience “old-timey” chores like pumping water or learning the fabled three Rs with slates instead of electronics. Adjacent to the Village is a covered picnic pavilion, great for lunch.

First-floor exhibits inside are varied and more “museum-like.” One room displays worldwide artifacts called Strecker’s Cabinets of Curiosities after the museum’s earliest curator. Another room brings visitors into Texas forests as they were 150 years ago. Leaves rustle, birds call, and very realistic wildlife peeps from underbrush and tree trunks. A regal longhorn guards another section, and still another section displays a log cabin, a Native American thatched roundhouse, and a Bosque County rock house built in Norwegian style.

The Discovery Rooms are also worth a look. Adults can enjoy these simple, interactive displays as much as kids. One grown-up for every two children seems about right to help guide “discovery processes” via minimal instruction signs. What’s not to like about a giant heart with echoing beat, a human skeleton on a bike, optical illusions, or a huge keyboard for playing “Twinkle, Twinkle” by foot? And yes, there’s more: recycling, basic machine design, energy—discoveries continue through sixteen rooms.

This generous legacy from Frank and Sue Mayborn of Temple offers a full, interesting day.

Mayborn Museum is open seven days a week except for major holidays. Check times and prices at the museum’s website or by calling 254-710-1110.

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