Just north of downtown Jackson, Mississippi, is LeFleur’s Bluff State Park. Nestled off I-55, it is home to the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science. The museum is housed in a 73,000 square foot building that sits on a hilltop. Spreading down from the building is a 300 acre natural area with 2.5 miles of nature trails and an open-air amphitheater.
The entrance to the museum opens into an atrium that features an exhibit of three graceful white-tailed deer. In a wing to the right of the entrance are the administration offices and library. To the left is the Rotwein Theater – a 200 seat audio-visual facility for lectures and media presentations. There is also a gift shop and reception desk near the main entrance. Stairs descend into a lower exhibit area where in the atrium area 32 kinds of ducks and geese that call Mississippi home for at least part of the year are displayed.
The lower area of the museum is home to an aquarium system. The group of 20 aquariums stretch down a long hallway and total more than 100,000 gallons. They house over 200 living species of native fish, reptiles, amphibians, and aquatic invertebrates. There are tiny – almost invisible – amphibians and fish. There are very large catfish and invertebrates.
Opposite the aquariums are a series of dioramas that depict wildlife of Mississippi. Each of the dozen dioramas combines animals and birds in dazzling combinations of color and serenity.
Perhaps the most photographed display is in the center of the hallway that bisects the aquariums and the dioramas. It is a small glassed enclosure that contains a live two headed snake.
Located at the end of the exhibit hall is a pool enclosure that houses an Alligator Snapping Turtle. It spends most of its time lying motionless under water, waiting to ambush turtles and fish that make up its diet.
Through a set of doors just past the Snapping Turtle is “The Swamp” – a 1,700 square foot greenhouse. This area contains a native plant garden and a 20,000 gallon aquarium that is home to an assortment of alligators, turtles, and fish.
As the viewers walk back to the main entrance, they pass through another area of dioramas and a video theater that presents Bio Bulletin – a product of the American Museum of Natural History. It is a high definition video display regarding on-going current science and global biodiversity.
Hours and admission price information is available at Mississippi Museum of Natural Science . Two hours is a reasonable amount of time needed to browse unhurriedly through the exhibits.