Date: May 3, 2023
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Sternberg Museum in Hays, KS

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Sternberg Museum in Hays, KS is one of the most phenomenal displays of natural history in the country. With a variety of interactive exhibits, educational opportunities, and more, it is a great place to learn about the evolution of the region!

If you, like me, grew up in Western Kansas, you most likely went to the Sternberg Museum of Natural History in Hays, KS at least once. For me, going to Sternberg was always so exciting. Biology was always one of my favorite subjects in school; learning about nature and the evolution of time in nature always appealed to me.

While it might surprise some to learn that the Sternberg Museum ranks among the best in Natural History Museums and is located in Hays, KS. Visitors will also find some of the finest collections of fossil plants, Cretaceous marine, and Neogene terrestrial vertebrate fossils in addition to the mammals, reptiles, and native plant materials.

The namesake for the museum, Dr. George M. Sternberg, was an Army surgeon who served in the Civil War and was assigned to a duty station in Kansas. A love for fossils kept him in Kansas and also brought other family members. In 1915 Dr. Sternberg was appointed to maintain and develop what is now known as, Sternberg Museum.

Located in the Sternberg Museum of Natural History in Hays, KS is the world-famous Fish-within-a-Fish fossil discovered by Dr. Sternberg.

In 1952, Dr. Sternberg discovered one of the most famous pieces in the collection, Xiphactinus, more commonly known as, the Fish-withing-a-fish. This one specific specimen I credit to giving me an understanding and enormous appreciation of life and the evolution of nature. The Fish-within-a-Fish is probably one of the most well-known fossil specimens at Sternberg Museum and something everyone should see!

As the museum continued to grow and outgrow spaces it took a huge leap in 1994 and acquired a building off the campus of Fort Hays State University when it purchased the current location, the old Metroplex Dome located near I-70. If you have ever driven past Hays you have most likely seen the water tower or dome-shaped building. This new space allowed the museum to evolve and create additional spaces for education, tourism, and science!

A variety of students, of all ages and skill levels go to Sternberg to learn. As you tour you can even watch grad students, visiting researchers, and scientists as they process new material through a window located to the left of the main area after you enter the museum.

When the Museum opened in its new space I could not wait to go and see it all, especially when I heard they added more interactive exhibits. My favorite, and still to this day something I love going to look at is the Cretaceous Diorama. For those not familiar, it is a motion-activated scene depicting the Mesozoic era between the Jurassic and Tertiary eras. So, basically think, of dinosaurs that move when you walk by! LOL

Located in "the dome" you began your walk at the display of Dr. Sternbery discovering the Fish-within-a-Fish, as you enter the limestone cave you see the water and see the various species when this area was covered with water. As you walk toward the light you hear them before you see them. Passing into the Mesozoic area you will find a variety of plant life, T-Rex, and more!

Sternberg Museum is also well known for its exhibits. When I was young I remember going to so many, one of my favorites was called a T-Rex named Sue. Visitors will find a variety of exhibits throughout the year and can learn more on the Sternberg website about planning their next trip!

I hope you make it to Sternberg and Hays, KS, it really is a great place to spend a weekend learning and exploring from the museum to historic Fort Hays, do some shopping downtown, and more!

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