Daily Archives: March 6, 2014

Texas Discovery Gardens – 2

Texas coachwhip

Brazilian tarantula sign

Confused? Feel free to go back to the beginning.

Besides its main butterfly garden conservatory, the Texas Discovery Gardens building boasts an extensive interior dedicated both to touring exhibitions and to local art events. At the moment, it also features a semi-permanent set of animal enclosures, transported there from the old Dallas Museum of Natural History. In keeping with the theme, the majority are of indigenous Texas species, such as the Texas coachwhip (Masticophis flagellum), but it contains a contrast between our local and more exotic spider species.

Brazilian tarantula

Compared to the beautiful Brazilian tarantula on display, our local tarantula species, 14 of which in Texas, appear both dull and boring. Succumbing to that assumption means missing out on a gentle-tempered, agreeable spider with plenty of fascinating behaviors. Having burned out an extremely intense case of arachnophobia in my teenage years thanks to one, I have a soft spot for all of our local species. Seeing one in captivity brought back a lot of memories, all of them good.

Texas tarantula

More to follow…

Texas Discovery Gardens – 1

Texas Discovery Gardens

As you may have heard from the newsfeeds, Texas had it a bit rough last weekend. Saturday was a wonderful, sunny, and warm day, with no real warning as to what was coming our way. Sunday started out okay, and promptly took a dive into subfreezing temperatures. By about 3 that afternoon, we had sleet, snow, and ice all over everything. This wouldn’t have been so much of an issue if the Czarina weren’t one of the vendors at the North Texas Irish Festival in Dallas’s Fair Park. By 11:30, vendors facing a drive through the storm were evacuating, the Festival organizers were deliberating alternate plans, attendees were arguing about whether or not they should stick around, and anybody else with any sense stayed at home.

Well, not everyone. Even a terrible day at Fair Park is worth a look around, and with the Czarina already situated with more help than the Sunday crowds justified, she shooed me off to go wander. Since both the Texas Discovery Gardens and the Children’s Aquarium at Fair Park were still open, winter storm or not, Sunday was as good a day to wander around as any.

Texas Discovery Gardens

As with the much-missed Dallas Museum of Natural History and the Science Place, now merged and moved across town into the Perot Museum, the Texas Discovery Gardens and the Children’s Aquarium buildings are holdovers from the 1932 World’s Fair and the 1936 Texas Centennial Exposition. Considering Fair Park’s status as the sole surviving Art Deco World’s Fair site, both kept the Art Deco theme, even after their extensive renovations during the last decade. This includes the beautiful bas reliefs around the TDG’s main entrance.

Texas Discovery Gardens

Texas Discovery Gardens

As for the inside? Well, you’ll have to keep checking back over the next few days, won’t you?

Children’s Aquarium at Fair Park – 1

Children's Aquarium at Fair Park

Dallas’s Fair Park has plenty of surprises that don’t receive the recognition they deserve, and one of the most neglected is the Children’s Aquarium at Fair Park, previously known simply as the Dallas Aquarium. That changed back in the 1990s with the opening of the Dallas World Aquarium in downtown. While nowhere near as large as the World Aquarium, the Children’s Aquarium, now run by the Dallas Zoo, has its own unique charms.

Children's Aquarium at Fair Park sculpture

In keeping with the rest of Fair Park, the Aquarium’s build and decoration come from the Art Deco school, most noticeably with the bas reliefs around the front of the building and the two concrete sea horses out front. In my first visit in the very early Nineties, the motif continued through the interior of the building. As mentioned previously, though, the Children’s Aquarium underwent an extensive renovation and remodeling in 2007, and one of the casualties was the baroque aquarium design. At the same time, considering the new displays, it’s an understandable casualty.

Children's Aquarium bas reliefs

Over the next few days, keep checking back for photos: I was fond of the Aquarium in the past, and it’s definitely exceeded itself today.