The Houston Museum of Natural Science is one of my family’s favorite spots in Houston. One major reason is the Morian Hall of Paleontology. Trip calls the HMNS the “Dinosaur Museum” because of this excellent paleontology exhibit. The museum also has interesting temporary exhibits. One of the current temporary exhibits is “Magna Carta.” According to the HMNS website’s description of the exhibit:
An original edition of the “Magna Carta,” and the only known example of the King’s Writ — a letter from King John to the Sheriff of Gloucester announcing the signing of the Magna Carta — is visiting Houston from its home in Hereford Cathedral. The Magna Carta is considered to be Great Britain’s most valuable export to the world and is a model upon which the United States Constitution was based. The Magna Carta continues to serve as the definitive document modeling basic civil liberties, and is the source of many of the most fundamental concepts of law. In more than 100 decisions, the United States Supreme Court has traced dependence on the Magna Carta for an understanding of due process, trial by jury, the importance of a speedy and unbiased trial, and protection against excessive bail or fines or cruel and unusual punishment. This historic document can be viewed for a limited time Feb. 14, 2014 to Aug. 17, 2014.
This exhibit is worth a visit for individuals interested in history, law, and politics. Personally, I don’t think it would be too engaging for young children. But, school-age children will appreciate the hands-on activities, including a “career selector” (which leads to options like peasant, nun, and midwife) and a heraldry design activity. And there is armor, which I believe is always a crowd pleaser. Seeing the 1217 copy of the Magna Carta was interesting, and the context of the document was presented. There was information about kings and popes, life in 13th century England, and legal/cultural/religious background. It’s hard to believe the actual document is here in Houston. But only for a couple more weeks!