We’ve been to Springs Preserve several times. Our routine is the same every time: head to the playground first, then take a stroll through the gardens, and once we can’t stand another minute in the blazing sun, we head into the Origen Museum to cool off, and then outdoors again to visit the desert animals exhibit before heading home.
However, before our last visit, I decided that we would start someplace else: the next-door Nevada State Museum.
Tickets to the museum are included in the general admission price for Springs Preserve. If my own experience is any indication, the museum is, unfortunately, an afterthought for most visitors to Springs Preserve. This is a shame because it really is a fascinating museum, and it managed to keep my six-year-old daughter and her two friends entertained for almost two hours.
As you enter the exhibit hall, the first thing you will notice is the gigantic woolly mammoth. Although this display is made of fiberglass and plaster, it’s an impressive demonstration of the size of these prehistoric animals. Visitors will also find all kinds of taxidermied and preserved desert animals, from pumas to bats to butterflies.
But the Nevada State Museum isn’t all about the animal kingdom. The museum also takes visitors on a journey through Nevada history, from the early pioneer days to modern life on the Las Vegas Strip. A glittering display of showgirl costumes is arranged on the back wall, a strange juxtaposition to the desert creatures who roamed closer to the museum’s entrance.
While the museum’s collection seems a bit disjointed in terms of continuity, it does an excellent job of engaging both children and adults. This is not a “children’s museum,” yet the displays are designed in a way that makes them accessible to kids.
Another plus is the friendly staff at the museum. Rather than lecturing us on behaving in the gallery, a staff member at the front desk greeted us with a smile. My daughter is well-versed in museum etiquette, so I’m always taken off guard when museum employees seem horrified at the prospect of my daughter wandering through their collection. However, we felt welcome at the Nevada State Museum, which helps put everyone at ease.
A visit to the Nevada State Museum is a great option for the almost-unbearable Vegas summers. And if you think you can handle the heat, perhaps stop by Springs Preserve after you’ve explored the museum.