Areas for Guided Learning

The Museum has several special areas where visitors can interact with real objects and live animals, use Museum resources and engage all five senses to learn about the natural world, all under the guidance of Museum staff and trained volunteers.

Exploration Stations

Hours of operation vary.

Exploration Station discovery carts are located throughout the Museum. At these stations visitors can learn informally about a variety of natural history topics using hands-on materials and animals.

Be an Exploration Station volunteer

Discovery Room

Public Hours:

Closed on Mondays
Tuesday–Friday, noon–4pm
Saturday, 11am–4pm
Sunday, 1–4pm


Closed on Mondays
Tuesday–Friday, 10am–3pm
Saturday, 11am–4pm
Sunday, 1–4pm


Discovery Room visitors learn about aquatic life

The Discovery Room is a special place for families and visitors of all ages to explore the natural world up close.

Engage your senses by touching fossils, feeling bird wings, smelling tropical scents, watching the beehive and more. Try on costumes, play with puppets and find hidden animals in our dead tree critter hotel. This is an ideal area for intergenerational learning.

Student Programs in the Discovery Room
Volunteering in the Discovery Room


Naturalist Center

Note: The Naturalist Center is now in the Nature Research Center

The Naturalist Center provides visitors access to an extensive collection of specimens for individual or class research or for general interest. Collections include birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, fishes, insects, plants, fossils, rocks, minerals and more. Reference books, computers, CD-ROMs, microscopes and other lab equipment is available. Watch audio and video of certain specimens at one of two interactive tabletops. Staff can provide assistance with self-directed exploration in the Naturalist Center. Hours and information

Programs in the Naturalist Center

Living Conservatory

Public Hours

Closed on Mondays
Tuesday–Friday, 10 am–3 pm
Saturday, 11 am–4 pm
Sunday, 1–4 pm

Enter the Living Conservatory and immerse yourself in the amazing world of living plants and animals of a Central American dry tropical forest. Find butterflies, turtles, tarantulas, snakes and even a live sloth. See the vanilla orchid, cashew tree, pineapple plant and others such as annatto, used to color food and cosmetics. North Carolina is closely connected to this tropical world through migration, shared species and products.  Staff is on hand to answer questions.

Student programs in the Living Conservatory
Volunteering in the Living Conservatory