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Dallas, Texas
National Historical Landmark

FAIR PARK

by Clint Skinner

27. Science Place II

Dallas TX Fair park - Science Place II
Science Place II
Photo courtesy Clint Skinner, February 2016
The building standing next to the WRR headquarters is the former home of Science Place II. It originally served as the Hall of Domestic Arts during the exposition. Costing 90,000 dollars, the structure combined the architectural elements of colonial, modern, and Georgian design. The limestone building's next major inhabitant was the Dallas Science and Health Museum, the result of many hard-fought years.
1936 Texas  Centennial  Exposition  in Dallas aerial photo right enlarged
No. 24 - Museum of Domestic Arts
(
1936 Texas Centennial Exposition in Dallas - Aereal photo right)
Click on image to enlarge
Courtesy Sarah Reveley

The journey began in 1946 with the formation of a group called the Dallas Academy of Medicine. The members consisted mainly of doctors and dentists, though some of them were average citizens. Together, they sought to provide an office building to serve as a medical college with a library and auditorium. This plan, however, was abandoned because it was too expensive. The organization then turned its attention toward establishing a museum. Called the Dallas Health Museum, it was chartered in September in time for the state fair. For the exhibits, the local park department borrowed from other museums and various organizations.

The museum was deemed a success with 40,000 visitors and opened the following year as a permanent attraction at Fair Park. However, the 10,000 square feet of space that it used was leased from the park department. Because the founders wanted to educate the public about health as a service, the museum was free for everyone. This forced the management to rely upon contributions to keep the place open. It was during this time that the exhibits depended on borrowing from the American Museum of Health in New York City.

Things changed for the better in 1951 when the local government and state fair began the practice of making annual contributions. Sometime during the mid-1950s, the museum moved to its present location. The year of 1957 saw the institution develop the first preschool science program in the nation. The following year, the name was changed to the Dallas Health and Science Museum. The place later acquired a planetarium capable of seating for sixty people. In 1981, the park board recommended a plan to have the science museum share space with the natural history museum as part of an endeavor to improve Fair Park. Both entities would be governed by a city-appointed director. Upon hearing the news, the science museum threatened to leave the park, but things settled down when the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts announced it would move its collection to the downtown area. After lots of negotiations, the majority of the museum's collection would go into the former home of the art museum and enjoy complete independence under a ten-year contract. The transfer was made in 1983 and the planetarium with its surrounding exhibits was renamed Science Place II.

Near the end of its run, the museum had four main exhibits : a place to check weight and age on the nine planets of the solar system, a practice spacesuit, a replica of a lunar sample, and a meteorite that landed on a Duncanville farm in 1936. A corridor leading to the planetarium had entryways to classrooms. The planetarium itself offered a choice of three double-features, each with a total runtime of forty minutes. Science Place II came to a close when the Perot Museum of Nature and Science made its big debut in 2012.


December 5, 2016
© Clint Skinner


FAIR PARK:
Fair Park - Attractions:
1. Fair Park Station
2. Main Entrance
3. Founders Statue
4. Women's Museum
5. DAR House
6. The Texas Vietnam Veterans Memorial
7. Sydney Smith Memorial Fountain
8. Music Hall
9. Fair Park Esplanade
10. Centennial Building
11. Automobile Building
12. Hall of State
13. Tower Building
14. Big Tex Circle
15. Grand Place
16. Old Mill Inn
17. Magnolia Lounge
18. Hall of Religion
19. African American Museum
20. Leonhardt Lagoon
21. Dallas Museum of Natural History
22. Science Place I
23. Children's Aquarium
24. Fair Park Bandshell
25. Texas Discovery Gardens
26. WRR Headquarters
27. Science Place II
28. The Texas Star
29. Cotton Bowl Stadium
30. The Texas Skyway
31. The Embarcadero
32. The Creative Arts Building
33. Food and Fiber Building
34. Pan American Arena
35. The Woofus
36. The Swine Building
37. Briscoe Carpenter Livestock Center
38. Livestock Pavilion and Arena
39. The Horse Barn
40. Fair Park Coliseum
41. Top of Texas Tower


References:
1.Bigtex.com
2.Dallashistory.org
3.Dallas Morning News Archives
4.Fairpark.org
5.Slate, John H. Historic Dallas Parks. Arcadia Publishing, 2010.
6.Tshaonline.org
7.Watermelon-kid.com
8.Wikipedia.org
8.Winters, Willis Cecil. Fair Park. Arcadia Publishing, 2010.

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