See Dinosaurs, Critters, Minerals, and More At The Schiele Museum of Natural History In Gastonia, North Carolina

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Have you visited the Schiele Museum of Natural History & Planetarium? Located in Gastonia, North Carolina the museum makes a great day trip. Expect to have a spectacular time exploring exhibits on dinosaurs, minerals, animals, critters, nature and so much more! If you haven’t been yet, you should definitely add it to your museum bucket list.

Schiele Museum of Natural History and Planetarium near Gastonia, North Carolina

Thank you to the Schiele Museum for providing admission to the museum so we could bring this review to our readers! The words and opinions in this article are those of the writer.

Read our Guide to Fun in Gastonia, NC for more fun you can have while visiting the museum.

Kidding Around Reader Favorite – The Schiele Museum of Natural History & Planetarium

Just an hour from the Upstate is the Schiele Museum of Natural History. We recently asked readers where we should visit on a trip to Gastonia, and this was the number one response!

The Schiele Museum of Natural History is wonderful!

Samantha

I’ll be honest, I thought I was good at my job here at Kidding Around. I thought nothing got past me. Well, that illusion recently got shattered. I’m embarrassed and ashamed to say I had never heard of the Schiele Museum until we were invited. I learned that this little museum that I had never heard of was AWESOME, and I couldn’t believe we hadn’t been yet.

Outside of the Schiele Museum of Natural History

The History Of The Schiele Museum of Natural History

The Schiele Museum is named for Rudolph “Bud” Schiele, a botanist and naturalist. Bud worked with the community to establish the Gaston County Museum of Natural History in 1961. He needed somewhere to house his vast collection of specimens. This museum was a dream of his since the age of 17.

Boy Scouts will find it interesting to know that Bud turned down the opportunity to be the sole wildlife official in the entire territory of Alaska to be an executive with the Boy Scouts of America organization. Although he passed away just 13 years after the museum was dedicated, his legacy lives on through the museum whose name was changed to honor his legacy.

Exhibits at The Schiele Museum of Natural History & Planetarium

There is a lot going on at the Schiele Museum! Exhibits include dinosaurs, live animals and their habitats, a spectacular mineral collection, and environmental and agricultural exhibits outdoors. All of the exhibits explore science and the natural world. You can also visit The Farm and the Planetarium for an additional fee, which is worth the extra couple of dollars on top of your ticket.

Outdoor Exhibits

The outdoor exhibits alone are worth a trip to the museum, especially on days when they have special events and programs offered. Check their website regularly for information on upcoming events.

On the day we visited there was a wetland education program down at the pond. We were able to make paper binoculars, a really cool little nature journal, and see some animals that were native to the pond’s ecosystem! This was all in addition to the regular programming the museum offers.

The Farm is really neat and has several live animals like alpacas, turkeys, pigs, and goats. Tickets to the farm are $3 per person. They also have a beautiful garden where you can learn all about different plants and flowers that grow best in this part of the state.

Schiele Museum outdoor ecology center

Past the farm and along the nature trail, you will see a mill powered by a stream, a Catawba Indian Village, a stone-age exhibit, a wildlife garden, a pond, and a play area for children called the “Playscape”.

We especially enjoyed our time with Mariah during the Wetland activity. Mariah can normally be found working in the animal husbandry and environmental education departments. She was a wealth of knowledge and was even the one who tipped us off to one of the parks we visited while in Gastonia. Look for Mariah when you visit, you’ll learn a lot from her!

Indoor Exhibits

Admission

In the lobby you’ll find the ticket counter. Tickets are under $10 and do not include the planetarium show. Please check the website for current ticket prices.

If you think you’ll be returning regularly, consider the membership. The Museum is part of the same ASTC passport program as Roper Mountain Science Center. Good news – if you have a RMSC membership, then you get in free to the Schiele Museum. The ASTC Passport program gets you free admission into partner museums all over the world.

If you plan to travel, it can pay for itself in just one trip to a partner museum. On a recent trip to Florida, the RMSC membership benefits allowed us to visit three different museums in the Tampa/Orlando area. Admission to just one of these museums would have been more than the membership cost us.

Featured Exhibit

Once you have tickets purchased, you’ll see the current featured exhibit to your left, which changes out so check the website for the most up-to-date info. Next, you’ll go across the hall to the Dino Safari. Older kids will enjoy the exhibit for its fossils and different full-sized models. Younger kids will marvel at seeing the characters from their favorite train-riding dinosaur show up close and in person.

Schiele Museum Dinosaur exhibit

Mineral Exhibit & More

Next, you’ll visit the Mineral exhibit. My children love what they refer to as “beautifuls,” so this exhibit was a huge hit. My son was disappointed to learn though, that there were no huge diamonds on display. Me too, kid. Me too!

The rest of the exhibits are down the hall and to the right. There is a mixture of taxidermy animal displays and live animals. We got some really good photos with some of the taxidermy animals. I must say though, I hope I’m never that close to a brown bear in real life. The leaf-cutter ant display had my daughter mesmerized. They have the ants set up in little Plexiglas ecosystems and have video cameras for you to see what they were doing. The exhibits include the human history of North American Native Indians.

James H. Lynn Planetarium and Science Theater

Admission to the second-largest planetarium in the state of North Carolina is in addition to the general admission price of the museum. Tickets are $5 per person. There are several different shows playing on any given day, so be sure to check the schedule before you head out if you have a certain show in mind.

Things To Know Before You Go

  • The museum doesn’t have a restaurant, but there are refreshments available in the gift shop. There are picnic tables outside and you are free to leave to go to your car, have a picnic lunch, and return to the museum.
  • Children 2 and under and Active Military members (with proper ID) receive free admission.
  • The museum is stroller-friendly.
  • The museum is open Monday – Friday from 10 am – 4 pm, Saturday from 10 am – 5 pm, and Sunday from 1 pm – 5 pm.

Schiele Museum of Natural History & Planetarium
1500 East Garrison Boulevard, Gastonia, NC

Have you been to the Schiele Museum of Natural History in Gaston County? What is your favorite part?


Check out these Day Trip Ideas Near Greenville, SC to plan an epic day of fun and adventure!

Kidding Around day trip guide

About the Author
Melanie is a native New Yorker, who landed in the Upstate by way of Florida. She is the mom of two awesome kids, and the three of them love going on adventures!

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1 year ago

Thanks so much for the tip on the sock skating! My daughter loved it. We went up on President’s Day and spent most of the day there. We saw the displays, the animal farm and saw a show in the planetarium. We really enjoyed it and the price was very affordable.