Celebrating 70 Years With The Museum Of Life And Science
Over the past 70 years, the Museum of Life and Science in Durham has grown into a place where kids and families can spend the day exploring and learning, with adventures around every corner of the 84-acre campus and two-story science center.
When the museum opened in June 1946, it was hard to imagine that more than 500,000 visitors would come through its doors each year. But thats the reality for this popular museum that features exhibits, camps, classes, party facilities, adult programs and more.
Originally named the Durham Childrens Nature Museum, the Museum of Life and Science came about as part of a national movement to create nature museums geared toward children. It opened in the city bird sanctuary on Lavender Street in Durham, but moved the following year to a location on the edge of Hillendale Golf Clubs 18th hole. How things have changed!
The museum began as a nature center part of a much larger national movement in the 1940s to create trailside museums that let kids start to explore and understand the natural world, says Exhibit Developer Kelly Marks. With Hideaway Woods, its really come full circle. Were still connecting kids with nature, but weve moved from specimens and flower pressing to full-bodied nature play.
A Period of Growth
The Museum Comes Into Its Own
The Great Outdoors
All of this prior work and planning led to the following expansions during the 2000s:
Tuesday Sunday 10 Am 5 Pm*
* Open to Members at 9 am
Special Schedule Days
Durham Community Days
On Durham Community days, Durham County residents get in free with current proof of residence. All adults must have Durham residency to get in free each adult can bring up to five children. Guests without current proof of residency will need to pay for tickets at check-in.
2021 Durham Community Days
433 W. Murray Avenue, Durham, NC 27704919-220-5429
We have free parking available on both sides of Murray Avenue. On the south side, across the street from the Museum, we have a covered three-story parking deck. Our parking deck is open from 8am6pm every day were open.
Wed Love To Hear From You
If you have questions, comments, or concerns, please send us a direct message or fill out the form below and we will get back to you shortly.
Reservations Trouble reserving tickets? Questions about visiting? See our Museum FAQ page or contact
Membership Cant download your new digital card? For all membership related questions, e-mail us at or call 919-220-5429 ext. 324
Open Tuesday Sunday every week
10 am 5 pm
- Children Free
- U.S. Military $21
- Learn about group pricing
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A Year Of Discovery Interactive Experiences Animal Encounters And Nature Adventures
Membership gives you a home for science discovery and exploration. Membership also helps us offer innovative learning experiences, feed our animals, and create new exhibits and programs. And it supports our efforts to share science education with everyone in our community.
As a member, you receive free admission for a full year of discovery, interactive experiences, and nature adventures along with discounts, exclusive benefits, and early access to the Museum.
Its one of the best values for families anywhere in North Carolina! In as few as two visits, your membership can pay for itself. Start your member journey today!
Durham Community Days In 2021
On Durham Community Days, Durham County residents receive free admission. Youll need to show proof of residents. All adults in your party will need to show proof of residency. Each adult can bring up to five children.
Durham Community Days take place twice a month. The day of the week varies.
- Thursday, August 5
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North Carolina Museum Of Life And Science
- Address433 Murray Avenue
- HoursCOVID-19 restrictions in place, visit website to see details. Monday – Saturday 10:00 am-5:00 pm Sunday, Noon-5:00 pm
- Area Served:North Carolina
- Specific Populations Served:Durham Community
- Fees:Members – Free, General – $23.00, Senior – $21.00 Age 65 & older, U.S. Military – $21.00 With ID, Children – $18.00, , Children – Ages 2 & under- Free, Call about Group Rates
- Application Process:anyone may visit. membership is open to anyone. application can be found on website
- Documents Required:N/A
- Transportation:none provided, site on bus routes
The Museum Of Life And Science Wedding Venue Full Of Wonder And Beautiful Event Spaces In Durham Nc
Get married at The Museum of Life and Science! This one-of-a-kind family museum is a beloved location in Durham, NC. Beautiful natural landscape and whimsical science exhibits make this wedding venue a perfect entertainment space.
Imagine getting married in a treehouse surrounded by the birds and the bright fall leaves. Or sipping on a glass of wine when suddenly a monarch butterfly lands on your shoulder in the museums butterfly house! Grab your partner for a first dance beside a spaceship. The options for dreaming and discovery are limitless at this museum wedding venue.
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Museum Of Life And Science Coupons And Season Pass Details For 2021
Museum of Life and Science Membership
- Explorer 2 Annual admission up to 2 people: $ 95
- Explorer 4 Annual admission up to 4 people: $135
- Explorer 6 Annual admission up to 6 people: $155
- Explorer 8 Annual admission up to 8 people: $175
With an Explorer Membership you can bring family or guests, as many times as you like, throughout the year, up to the membership level you choose.
to learn more about their membership programs and its benefits.
The Museum Of Life And Science
The mission of the Museum of Life and Science is to provide a place of lifelong learning where people of all ages embrace science as a way of knowing about themselves, their community, and their world.
The Museum of Life and Science is one of North Carolinas top family destinations, located less than five miles from downtown Durham in the heart of the Research Triangle region. Situated on 84-acres, our interactive science park includes a two-story science center, one of the largest butterfly conservatories on the East Coast and beautifully landscaped outdoor exhibits which are safe havens for rescued black bears, lemurs, and endangered red wolves. Other popular attractions include more than 60 species of live animals, Dinosaur Trail, Ellerbe Creek Railway, and Hideaway Woods. Readers of Durham Magazine, Indy Week, and Carolina Parent have repeatedly named MLS the top Museum in the Triangle. Charity Navigator rated the Museum, a 501 nonprofit organization, 100 out of 100the highest possible score.
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Space And Launching Area
The space section has a hands-on launching area where you can send different materials flying into the sky! My 3 year old loves sending the parachute men up in the wind tunnel! My girls enjoy shooting the pom poms up into the sky. Theres also an area where you can make your own paper airplane and send it through a machine that will make it soar!
There are lots of artifacts and information posted about the Mercury capsule that carried the first U.S. animal into orbit. Theres even a prototype of the Apollo 15 Lunar Lander and a real moon rock! You used to be able to climb into a command module prototype, but its been closed throughout the pandemic and I dont know if or when it will reopen.
Unique Wedding Venue Services And Features At The Museum Of Life And Science
The Museum of Life and Science offers four hour wedding packages in different combinations of their five exhibit spaces: Magic Wings, Museum Wonder, Wings and Wonder, Woods and Wonder, and Intimate Wonder. Each package includes access to specific exhibits throughout the museum. Dont worry, you have the option add time to your package up until 1:00am.
While planning a wedding or event at the museum you have access to the Museum Venue Coordinator and Rental Support Staff. The museum also offers tables and chairs that can be set up and taken down by Museum staff. Seating capacity varies from exhibit to exhibit, but the Museum can accommodate up to 180 guests for a seated reception.
The museum offers comfortable rooms for the wedding party to get ready in, internet access, on-site overnight parking for you and your guests. Get ready for day-of access to the 84-acre museum campus for amazing wedding portrait photos. Why not send your guests home with a unique wedding favor from the Museum Retail Store such as a vial of bird seed, chemistry games, or space ice cream!
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A Celebration Of The Holiday Season
Select nights in December
Join us at the Museum as we light up the park in celebration of the holiday season! Enjoy a memorable stroll with your loved ones through some of our outdoor and indoor spaces on evenings in December. Follow shimmering pathways and glowing trees from our gardens to the Dinosaur Trail. Enjoy the tropical temperatures inside our Magic Wings Butterfly House or stop by Sprout Café for a night-time snack. Take an illuminating train ride on the Ellerbe Creek Railway, passing colorful light displays along the way!
Entry only: $16 per personEntry plus train ride: $19 per personChildren 2 and under are free if purchasing entry plus train: children under 2 are asked to sit on the lap of an adult ticket holder.
Entry Only tickets include:
- An evening stroll through our campus from Butterfly House to Dino Trail.
- Holiday music and light displays
- Special family photo spots throughout the experience
- Pop up Museum gift shop
- Skate in your socks synthetic ice rink
- Magic Wings Butterfly House with Buck Morgan display
- Take-home activities
- Sprout Café open for light snacks, hot cocoa, and coffee
- Complimentary candy canes
Entry plus train ride:
All the above plus a seat on the Ellerbe Creek Railway taking one loop around the tracks to reveal a hidden woodland wonderland.
Magic Wings Butterfly House
A major attraction at MLS is the three-story glass Magic Wings Butterfly House, which opened April 17, 1999, a butterfly zoo and tropical conservatory featuring a community of several hundred tropical butterflies representing dozens of species, as well as an array of tropical plants. The Bayer CropScience Insectarium, located in the Magic Wings Butterfly House, features exotic insects from around the world. This exhibit was the first of the BioQuest expansion to be completed.
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Museum Of Life And Science
Reserved tickets are no longer required to visit the Museum, but online tickets can get you into the Museum faster. With your confirmed ticket, you can either present a printout of your reservation or show the reservation electronically on your mobile device, and well check you in and get you on your way!
Business Member visitors will need to reserve tickets via email before their visit.
Did you know that a Membership to the Museum can cost less than the price of two visits? Its one of the best values for families anywhere in North Carolina! Learn more.
While we have dropped timed ticketing for the general public, all Business Member visitors need to reserve tickets via email before their visit.
Learn About Farmyard Friends
For a look at less exotic animals, kids might love a stop by the Farmyard exhibit. Here, donkeys, alpacas, miniature cattle, and more can be found.
Each day, visitors can get an even closer look at farm life with the Farmyard Up-Close program. Hosted at 4:30 pm daily, the animal keepers will care for the animals, prepare them for the night to come, and answer questions of their guests.
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Final Tips For Visiting The Museum Of Life And Science
The Museum of Life and Science is open Wednesday through Sunday from 10 am 5 pm and is located just outside of downtown Durham.
General admission cost is $23 Seniors and US Military is $21 Children ages 3-12 is $18 Children under 3 are free. Members receive free admission all year long and early access . Various membership levels can be found here.
Throughout the year, the museum offers unique experiences including summer camps, holiday events, and classes. Plus, you can plan a birthday party on site! On regularly scheduled Durham Community Days each year residents of Durham County can get in free by showing their residency with ID.
Elements Coffee Bar and Sprouts Cafe offer tasty food options during your visit and picnic tables can be found throughout.
The Museum of Life and Science is one of North Carolinas top destinations for families and shouldnt be skipped when youre in the area! Be sure to pay a visit and share your experience with us by tagging @carolinatravelr on Instagram.
The images used in this article were taken before the pandemic. The Museum of Life and Science requires guests to wear a mask and follow social distancing rules. Stay safe.
Boofest At Museum Of Life And Science
The Museum of Life + Science, at 433 West Murray Avenue, Durham, is celebrating Halloween at BooFest on Saturday, October 30th, 2021, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Fall is looking great around the Triangle, whether youre looking for something spooky or totally kid-friendly! Check out our HUGE list of fall festivals, as well as our list of pumpkin patches, haunted trails and corn mazes!We have also put together a big list of Halloween events and Trick or Treat events!
Wear your Halloween costume and enjoy the Halloween features around the museum, including:
- Not-So-Scary Story
- Create your own Boo Bubbles in the lab
- Themed enrichment around campus
BooFest is included in the price of admission, which is:
- General admission: $23
- Military : $21
- Children : $18
- Children : Free
- Non-school groups of 10+ : $13
You might also be interested in Pumpkin Patch Express, which is $15/person and separate from admission.
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A Family Favorite: The Museum Of Life And Science In Durham
With an adventure around every corner, the Museum of Life and Science is far from boring. With hands-on activities, science experiments and live animal exhibits, this Durham attraction will appeal to all ages!
If youve never paid a visit to the Museum of Life and Science, weve got all of the details youll need to know. Check out some of the popular exhibits at the museum below.
Creepy Crawlers And Magical Butterflies At The Insectarium
Slightly smaller than the bears and wolves in the Explore the Wild exhibit, the insectarium and butterfly house feature an assortment of insects from around the world.
The Magic Wings Butterfly House is a mystical experience that allows visitors to walk through a 35-foot tall glass conservatory filled with plants and beautiful winged creatures. This butterfly house is one of the largest on the East Coast! As you walk through the building, youll be surrounded by hundreds of tropical butterflies. Using the guides provided, family members can challenge each other to try and identify every species in the house. Visitors can also spot tropical plants and a few different bird species.
The insectarium offers an up-close and personal look at invertebrates. From spiders to bumblebees, guests can learn all about the life cycle of a bug. While most of these crawlers are inside glass cases, the Giant Orb Weaver spiders are in an open-air exhibit. Dont worry, these spiders wont leave their web as it has everything they need!
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Wild Adventures With Black Bears & Red Wolves
The Museum of Life and Science is an animal lovers dream come true! Throughout the museum, there are many different animal-centric exhibits. The Explore the Wild exhibit features a few different wild animals. This section of the museum is a 6-acre woodland habitat that also features wetlands.
There are four black bears on site. These bears can be viewed from an observation deck. Mimi is the oldest bear at the museum. She was born in 2004 and rescued from unhealthy living conditions. Since she was too friendly to be re-released into the wild, she was rehomed to the museum in 2006. Virginia, Gus, and Yona are the other three bears, each coming to the museum after being rescued and determined unfit for wildlife release.
Due to the NC weather, it never gets quite cold enough for the bears to fully hibernate, so no matter what time of year you visit, you should be able to spot the bears from the deck.
In addition to the bears, the Explore the Wild exhibit also features red wolves. The museum is home to two red wolves. As one of the rarest animals in the world, these wolves are important ambassadors for the Red Wolf Species Survival Program.
The wolves habitat includes a pool with a waterfall and a covered den. A rock quarry wall is also included to give the beautiful animals a climbing challenge. Since it may be more difficult to see the red wolves while visiting, there are guest-controlled cameras on site for up-close views.