Exploring the Wonderous World of the Cook Museum of Natural Science

Welcome to the Cook Museum of Natural Science, where visitors get to explore the magnificent world of nature through interactive exhibits, live animals, and hands-on activities. This educational facility located in downtown Decatur, Alabama, is an extraordinary place to learn about the wonders of the natural world while having fun at the same time. Whether you’re interested in geology, biology, or astronomy, there’s something here for everyone, and today we’re taking a closer look at what the museum has to offer to visitors of all ages.

Cook Museum of Natural Science

The Cook Museum of Natural Science is a natural history museum located in downtown Decatur, Alabama. The museum is dedicated to educating and inspiring visitors of all ages with its vast collection of scientific exhibits. The museum first opened its doors in 2019 and has quickly become a popular attraction in the area.

What is the Cook Museum of Natural Science?

The Cook Museum of Natural Science is a state-of-the-art natural history museum that houses a vast collection of exhibits and artifacts. The museum’s main focus is to educate visitors about the natural world and its fascinating creatures, habitats, and ecosystems. The museum’s mission is to inspire an appreciation for the natural world and encourage visitors to take an active role in conservation efforts.

The museum features galleries of exhibits that showcase the beauty and diversity of the natural world. Visitors can explore exhibits that cover topics such as geology, paleontology, zoology, ecology, and more. In addition to the museum’s permanent exhibits, the museum also hosts temporary exhibits throughout the year, making each visit a unique experience.

Exhibit Highlights

The Cook Museum of Natural Science has several exhibits that visitors won’t want to miss. One of the most popular exhibits is the Ocean exhibit, which features a 30,000-gallon saltwater aquarium filled with sharks, rays, and other marine life. The exhibit also includes interactive displays where visitors can learn about the ocean’s role in the ecosystem and the importance of conservation efforts.

Another popular exhibit is the Jurassic gallery, which showcases life-sized dinosaur models and fossils from the Mesozoic era. Visitors can explore the prehistoric world and learn about the dinosaurs that once roamed the earth. The gallery also features interactive displays where visitors can learn about dinosaur behavior, diet, and anatomy.

The museum’s collection also includes displays dedicated to Alabama’s ecological diversity, including the North Alabama Native Plants and Wildlife exhibit. This exhibit highlights the state’s natural habitats and the unique wildlife that calls Alabama home.

Interactive Learning Opportunities

The Cook Museum of Natural Science offers a variety of interactive learning opportunities for visitors of all ages. The museum’s hands-on exhibits allow visitors to touch, feel, and explore the natural world in a way that engages all the senses.

The museum’s interactive exhibits include a fossil dig, where visitors can excavate replicas of fossils and learn about the science of paleontology. There is also a live animal presentation where visitors can meet live animals and learn about their habitats, behaviors, and conservation needs. Additionally, visitors can explore the natural world through virtual reality experiences.

The museum offers educational programming for visitors of all ages, including school field trips, summer camps, and science classes. The museum also hosts community events, such as science fairs and lectures, to promote science education and engagement.


The Cook Museum of Natural Science is a must-visit destination for anyone interested in the natural world. From the museum’s interactive exhibits to its vast collection of scientific displays, the museum offers a unique and immersive experience for visitors of all ages. The museum’s mission to inspire and educate visitors about conservation efforts and the importance of the natural world makes it an essential educational resource for the community.

Visiting the Museum

The Cook Museum of Natural Science is an exceptional place for nature enthusiasts and science lovers alike. The museum takes visitors through the history of the earth and its diverse eco-systems in a unique and interactive way. The museum provides excellent educational opportunities for all ages and interests. In this section, we will look at important information regarding your visit to the Cook Museum of Natural Science.

Location and Hours of Operation

The museum is located at 133 Fourth Ave NE, Decatur, Alabama, in the United States. The Cook Museum of Natural Science is open to the public from Monday to Friday from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, Saturdays from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm, and Sundays from 12:00 pm to 5:00 pm. If you wish to attend the museum, we highly recommend that you check their website for any changes to their hours of operation, especially during holidays and events.

Admission prices for the museum are as follows: for adults (ages 13-64), it costs $15.95, for seniors (65 and over), it costs $14.95, for children (ages 3-12), it is $9.95, and if you have children under the age of three, the admission is free.

The museum provides free parking for visitors directly in front of the building. The parking lot is large and has plenty of spaces available.

Group Tours

The museum offers group tours, which include a guided tour by a docent and opportunities for hands-on learning. To book a group tour, you must make a reservation at least two weeks in advance. A group tour is a great way to explore the museum with friends, family, or colleagues. You will have a more personalized experience, have a chance to ask questions, and learn more about the exhibits. There are benefits of doing this, like discounted group rates on admission and exhibition tickets, and a 10% discount for purchases made at the museum store during your visit. If you’re a teacher, bringing in your students on a field trip can also be an excellent educational experience for them outside the classroom walls.


The Cook Museum of Natural Science is dedicated to making its exhibits accessible for all visitors, regardless of their abilities. The museum is equipped with wheelchair access and elevators to ensure that visitors with mobility issues can move around the museum with ease. Additionally, the museum staff is willing to offer accommodations for visitors with special needs. They have audio and visual supplementary material for hearing impaired guests and low vision visitors. Visitors requiring assistance are advised to request their needs in advance, and the staff will make the necessary arrangements to ensure a comfortable visit.

The museum’s reading materials, from exhibit labels to brochures, are available in Braille and audio recordings, making it more accessible to all visitors. The Museum also allows service animals to accompany visitors throughout the museum galleries.

In conclusion, visiting the Cook Museum of Natural Science is a great way to immerse yourself in the natural world. Whether you plan to visit on your own or with a group, the museum offers a range of options to meet your needs. With accessibility accommodations provided for visitors of all abilities, no one is left behind in being able to enjoy it. If you are planning to visit the museum, you can check out their website for further information or contact them for the latest updates.

Membership and Donations

Cook Museum of Natural Science provides ample opportunities to become a member, support the museum through donations, and volunteer. All these steps play instrumental roles in sustaining the museum’s operation and continue supporting its vision of advancing science education.

Membership Benefits

Membership at Cook Museum of Natural Science comes with numerous benefits that cater to the interests of nature enthusiasts. The museum offers individual, family, and grandparent memberships. All memberships include unlimited admission to the museum and access to the exhibit hall for a full year. Members also receive a discount on the gift shop, birthday packages, and various events held at the museum. Moreover, they also receive priority access and discounts on summer camps, field trips, and programs that Cook Museum of Natural Science conducts. Special events like “Member Mornings” are exclusively available for the members during which they can explore the museum an hour before its open to the general public. Lastly, members receive free admission to over 350 participating science museums across the country through the Association of Science and Technology Centers’ Passport Program.

The museum also offers a corporate membership program that caters to businesses. The Corporate membership program provides a unique opportunity for businesses to support and engage with the museum’s mission. The benefits for the corporations include unlimited admission passes for employees, gift shop discounts, branding opportunities, meeting room rentals, and invitations to exclusive events.

Donation Opportunities

The Cook Museum of Natural Science relies on donations from generous donors to keep up with its operations and maintain its collection. There are numerous ways to support the museum, including individual donations, sponsorships, and partnerships.

Individual donations can be made either online, on-site, or through mail. The museum accepts donations of any amount and offers naming opportunities for donors who make gifts of notable sizes. Under the sponsorship program, companies, and individuals can sponsor events or exhibitions held at the museum. These sponsorships can also be tailor-made to suit specific branding needs. Partnership opportunities are also available for businesses interested in supporting the museum’s mission extensively. The partnership program provides the involved company with an opportunity to connect with the museum, showcasing a commitment to their social responsibility while providing the museum a reliable source of funding.

Cook Museum of Natural Science is a registered non-profit organization, making all donations tax-deductible. The museum also offers the opportunity to donate in kind, where the donor can contribute gifts or services that go towards the museum’s operational needs.

Volunteer Opportunities

Cook Museum of Natural Science is grateful for volunteers who dedicate their time and expertise towards supporting the museum’s mission to inspire through science education. Volunteering opportunities are available for high school and college students, adults, and seniors. The museum offers flexible hours and an array of volunteering opportunities that include gallery interpretation, event programs, and summer camp support. Volunteering benefits include free museum admission passes, discounts on the membership fee, invitation to volunteer appreciation events, exclusive volunteer-only training, and the chance to contribute towards a noble cause.

Becoming a volunteer is easy. Aspiring volunteers can either apply online or fill out the application available at the museum’s front desk. The application process involves background checks, reference checks, orientation, and placement. Volunteers are required to maintain a certain code of conduct, meet the volunteering hour expectations, and adhere to the museum’s policies.

Cook Museum of Natural Science’s vision of inspiring lifelong appreciation for arts, science, and humans’ natural world is undoubtedly commendable. The museum’s initiatives help connect visitors to the wonders of the natural world, providing them with numerous learning opportunities. It is critical to support the museum’s mission by joining the membership program, contributing to the donations program, or volunteering.

Events and Programs

There’s always something new and exciting happening at the Cook Museum of Natural Science. The museum hosts a variety of events and programs throughout the year, catering to curious visitors of all ages.

Special Events

The Cook Museum of Natural Science hosts several special events throughout the year. From exhibits and workshops to lectures and demonstrations, these events offer visitors a unique and exciting way to experience the wonders of the natural world.

For example, the museum’s annual Bugfest is a popular event that celebrates all things creepy and crawly. Visitors can get up close and personal with live insects, enjoy insect-themed games and activities, and learn about the important roles insects play in our ecosystem.

Other special events at the museum include guest speaker lectures, holiday celebrations, and seasonal exhibits that highlight the fascinating flora and fauna of the local region.

Education Programs

The Cook Museum of Natural Science is committed to inspiring and educating visitors about the natural world. In addition to its impressive collection of exhibits, the museum also offers a variety of educational programming for all ages.

School field trips to the museum are a popular option for local educators. Students can explore the exhibits, participate in interactive activities, and learn about a variety of scientific topics. The museum also offers after-school programs and summer camps that provide hands-on learning experiences for children of all ages.

For adults, the museum offers lectures, workshops, and classes on a variety of scientific topics. From birdwatching to botany, these programs provide a fun and engaging way to learn about the world around us.

Outreach Initiatives

The Cook Museum of Natural Science is committed to serving as a resource for the local community. The museum’s outreach initiatives aim to connect with community organizations, schools, and individuals to promote a greater understanding and appreciation of the natural world.

Through partnerships with local organizations, the museum participates in community events and activities. The museum also provides off-site classroom experiences, bringing its educational programming to schools across the region.

In addition, the museum’s outreach initiatives aim to support conservation efforts, both locally and globally. The museum works with global conservation organizations to promote environmental sustainability and encourage the preservation of endangered species.

Whether you’re a local resident or visiting from out of town, the Cook Museum of Natural Science has something to offer for everyone. With its engaging exhibits, educational programming, and community outreach initiatives, this museum is a must-visit destination for nature lovers of all ages.

The Future of the Cook Museum of Natural Science

Expansion Plans

The Cook Museum of Natural Science has been a popular attraction among locals and tourists alike since its opening in 2019. With its impressive collection of specimens and interactive exhibits, the museum has quickly become a landmark in Decatur, Alabama. However, the museum’s management has no plans to rest on its laurels. Instead, they have set their sights on expansion plans that will bring even more exciting exhibits and programs to the museum in the coming years.

In the first phase of the expansion, the museum will double its current size with an additional 32,000 square feet of exhibition and classroom space. This means that visitors can expect more interactive exhibitions, as well as new programs and events that will cater to a wider range of audiences. In addition, the museum will also expand its collection of specimens to include even more rare and unique examples of the natural world.

The museum has also announced plans to incorporate more technology into its exhibits, with the aim of providing an even more immersive experience for visitors. With virtual reality headsets, augmented reality displays, and other cutting-edge technologies, guests will be able to explore the natural world in ways they never thought possible.

Impact on the Community

The Cook Museum of Natural Science has had a significant impact on the community of Decatur and the surrounding areas since its opening. Its educational programs and exhibits have inspired countless visitors to take an interest in science and the natural world. The museum has also become an important contributor to the local economy, creating jobs and attracting tourists from around the country.

The expansion of the museum is expected to have an even greater impact on the local community. With more exhibitions, programs, and events, the museum will be able to attract even more visitors to the area. This, in turn, will create more jobs and help local businesses thrive. The increased focus on technology is also likely to attract a younger audience, making the museum an even more important resource for science education and outreach in the region.

Looking Ahead

The Cook Museum of Natural Science has already established itself as one of the premier science museums in the Southeast. With its ambitious plans for expansion, it is well poised to continue its growth and reach even more visitors in the years to come. The museum’s commitment to providing an immersive, interactive, and educational experience for all visitors is sure to inspire future generations to take an interest in science and the natural world.

As the museum expands and evolves, it will continue to be a cornerstone of the community, bringing people together to celebrate the wonders of the natural world. With its commitment to accessibility, innovation, and excellence, the Cook Museum of Natural Science is sure to remain an important institution for years to come.

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