AUSTIN, Texas - The Texas Science and Natural History Museum on UT campus closed its doors a year and a half ago for renovations.
On Saturday, it welcomed the public back for the next chapter of its history.
"It's massive," said Hayden Martin, a visitor. "It looks like it could be really exciting."
A looming life-sized dinosaur greeted the first guests on Saturday.
"Seeing these small children coming and just their eyes getting big and going 'wow, look at that,' is what it's all about and why we're here," said Carolyn Connerat, the managing director of the Texas Science and Natural History Museum.
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The museum takes visitors back in time.
A trip that starts more than 600 million years ago.
"We tell the story of life in the natural world from the beginning when the planets were first formed through the age of the dinosaur to our current time and what's the research happening at the university that makes an impact on life in the natural world," said Connerat.
In more recent history, the museum faced the possibility of an extinction itself.
"We closed after the university had gone through some funding cuts, and we didn't have the staff after covid to really keep operating, and so the university and the college said 'let's take a step back,’" said Connerat. "‘What could this museum be if we reimagined it?' and so that's what we've done."
The former Texas Memorial Museum is now the Texas Science and Natural History Museum on UT’s campus.
"It's really interesting to how so many local things are curated and exhibited because I think a lot of the time when you go to a museum you lack that sort of personal connection, but having it be so close to here, so close to what we're studying or what see when we go on field trips and all of that, it's really cool to just be immersed in that and have it aid our education in a way," said Nabeeha Siddiqui, a UT student visiting the museum.
Saturday is the first day of many of what museum leaders hope is a long and bright future of learning ahead.
"We have all these other beautiful museums," said Connerat. "This is the first science and natural history museum. It's the first time our Austin community can see a life-sized dinosaur."
The museum reopens Sunday from 1 pm to 5 pm and Tuesday through Saturday from 10 am to 5 pm.