If you are a parent to a young child then you can agree with me that long car trips are a definite no; the kids get tired, they want to stop at every Mc Donald’s you pass and then comes the dreaded temper tantrums. I try to avoid long trips as much as possible with my two year old, so why take a long trip out of town when I can avoid all the hassle and take him to a local museum here in our home town of Richmond. Not only is it close to home but its completely free!

We walk into the Joseph Moore Museum of Natural History and we were immediately welcomed by a young gentleman at the gift shop desk. The first room we came to had a huge collection of ancient artifacts; old tools, arrow heads and pottery. I found this section quite intriguing and informative. In the middle of the hall is a unique x-ray display. Children can interact with a collection of different animal x-ray images and place them on a light board to examine. Along with the x-ray activity was a microscope that displayed on a large monitor for you to view. There was an assortment of snake skins, a bee hive, rocks, wood and many more objects my son enjoyed viewing under the microscope imager.

Directly at the end of the hall sits the vertebrate paleontology collection. The collection houses many specimens including a mastodon, a giant sloth, a wolf and an Allosaurus. Immediately my son runs to the Allosaurus and screams with excitement “dino!!” He’s amazed by the size of it and asks daddy to pick him up to see it better. The most interesting to me was the giant beaver which was found in nearby Randolph County. To think these huge creatures once roamed around our area is amazing! My son would have stayed in the paleontology collection for hours if I would have let him, but we decided to venture downstairs.

Once you get to the bottom step you feel like you may have accidentally taken a trip to Egypt, there are hieroglyphs on the walls and a mummy lying in front of you. If you look close enough you can actually see through the mummy’s wrappings at spots and see the toes. Creepy! Did you know that Indiana only has two permanent mummies on display? Both of these are in Richmond! The one we visited here and the other located at the Wayne County Historical Museum.

The next room is full of live reptiles and a hands on activity center. My son loved being able to touch real snake skin, coral, animal hide, animal antlers and many more exciting objects. I love that the Joseph Moore Museum is so hands on for children. When you’re a young child you want to touch and explore everything you see and they are allowed to do just that.

Besides the toy dinosaur we bought my son at the gift shop the whole trip cost us nothing. Overall we had an exciting day of educational fun. I highly encourage you to visit their website www.earlham.edu/joseph-moore-museum/ and plan a trip to the museum on the Earlham College Campus, 801 National Road West, Richmond, IN 47374. Open year round: Sundays, Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays 1-5 pm.