The Fort Worth Museum of Science and History has come a long way from the two elementary school classrooms it used to occupy in 1941.
The museum turns 75 on Saturday and to celebrate, the exhibition “Hidden Treasures: Celebrating 75 Years” will open to the public, featuring hundreds of artifacts that have been part of the museum for the past seven decades.
“We’re very proud of this exhibition,” Museum President Van A. Romans said. “It’s home grown. We didn’t rent it and [have it] come in from another place. It is ours.”
Some of the items include a Ford Model T Roadster from 1919, shelves of preserved animal specimens and a model of Neolithic people performing an early form of skull surgery called “trepanning.” Visitors can also peek into period rooms decorated to look like a 1800s log cabin, a Victorian parlor, a schoolroom and a general store.
“It is so eclectic that I can’t believe it,” Romans said.
The exhibit should run through at least until the end of the year, Romans said. He said the museum’s archives have many more items that aren’t currently displayed, so the exhibit’s artifacts will rotate over the next few months.
“I kept looking for the theme of this exhibition,” he said. “Really, the theme is 75 years, and a lot of things that helped children learn about the world around them.”
The museum will host 75th anniversary activities on Saturday starting at 10 a.m., such as performances from the Paschal High School Jazz Ensemble and Diverse Visionary Arts, a paper rocket-making station and 75th anniversary cookies.
In addition to opening the new exhibit, Romans said the museum eventually hopes to move the bones of its Paluxysaurus jonesi, the state dinosaur of Texas, from the dinosaur hall to the atrium. The bones will be dismantled and taken to the atrium, so guests entering the museum can watch the skeleton be put back together.
“It will greet every single person at the entry point and fill that atrium in a really wonderful way,” Romans said. “We don’t have all the art in the world, but we have dinosaurs. We need to share all of those dinosaurs with you.”
The Fort Worth Museum of Science and History began when a group of women teachers, known as the Council of Administrative Women in Education, wanted to give children the chance to learn outside of the traditional textbook. The museum was chartered on May 21, 1941 ¬– known at the time as the Fort Worth Children’s Museum ¬– and occupied two classrooms at De Zavala Elementary School before moving to the R.E. Harding house on Summit Avenue in 1947. In 1953, the museum moved to where it is today, becoming the first museum ¬in what’s now Fort Worth’s Cultural District. The Fort Worth Children’s Museum changed its name to the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History in 1968.