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Travel Treasures departments
Jul/Aug 2010 Issue

Mississippi museum lands a real whopper of an exhibit

Just when you thought it was safe to go back to your local museum, the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science in Jackson, Miss., hauls in “Megalodon: Largest Shark that Ever Lived.”

Now on display through Jan. 9, 2011, the ancient 60-foot Megalodon looms life-size in this mega-exhibit of modern and fossil sharks. This traveling exhibition highlights the evolution, biology and misconceptions of Megalodon, an enormous prehistoric shark that once cruised all the world’s oceans. Related to the modern great white and mako sharks, Megalodon was a dominant marine predator for 15 million years before vanishing 2 million years ago.

The exhibition conveys current research findings of paleontologists at the Florida Museum of Natural History and showcases both fossil and modern shark specimens and full-scale models from several collections. People have collected Megalodon teeth for thousands of years, and today Megalodon has near-cult status. The exhibit explores fossil sharks as ambassadors for science and shark conservation.

The museum, which is located at 2148 Riverside Drive, is open 8 a.m.–5 p.m. Monday through Friday, 9 a.m.–5 p.m. on Saturday and 1–5 p.m. on Sunday. Admission is $5 for adults, $4 for senior citizens, $3 for children 3–18 and free for children under 3. For details, call (601) 354-7303 or visit

sharks exhibit

The exhibition includes life-size models of ancient and modern sharks. Mississippi Museum of Natural Science photo


Fowl join the fishes at Audubon Aquarium

Feathers and fins will be on full display this summer as the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas on the New Orleans riverfront unveils Parakeet Pointe, an 800-square-foot tropical environment that will be home to hundreds of free-flying parakeets.

As of press time for this issue, Parakeet Pointe was expected to open in July in conjunction with the aquarium’s 20th anniversary. The exhibit will have birds eating right out of your hand with special feed sticks available for purchase. Entrance to Parakeet Pointe, located on the second floor of the aquarium, is included with regular admission.

The aquarium opened in 1990 in the 17-acre Woldenberg Riverfront Park and replaced acres of run-down warehouses. It’s now a New Orleans landmark that will have welcomed 20 million visitors as of this summer. The official anniversary party is slated for Sept. 6, complete with party hats, cake, music and special offers.

Also celebrating an anniversary this summer–its second–is the Audubon Nature Institute’s Insectarium, which will host Mosquito Fest on Aug. 20 in honor of World Mosquito Day. The exhibit reveals the deleterious effects that the little bloodsuckers have had on New Orleans and the rest of the planet, inviting visitors to ponder a mosquito-less world.

The Aquarium of the Americas is located at #1 Canal St. at the Mississippi River, and the Audubon Insectarium is located at 423 Canal St. Both are open from 10 a.m.–5 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. For admission information and more details about all Audubon Nature Institute facilities, visit or call (800) 774-7394.


Parakeets, above, will join the rest of the aquarium’s aquatic residents (below) this summer. Audubon Nature Institute photos

sea life


Take flight to Fort Smith for the centennial of Arkansas aviation

Since 1910, the Fort Smith Museum of History has been a time capsule for the city’s colorful heritage, and in conjunction with its centennial, the museum is spotlighting a landmark event that also occurred in this Arkansas city that same year: the first flight in Arkansas.

As part of its 100th anniversary, the museum is presenting “The Fort in Flight: Bud Mars and the City’s Aviation History,” an exhibition that celebrates the first pilot to take to the skies above Arkansas. On display through Aug. 12, the exhibit examines the city’s rich history of flight through photographs, posters and artifacts.

Bud Mars, one of the nation’s first aviators, took off from League Field in Fort Smith in late May of 1910 as crowds gathered to watch history. In a Curtiss biplane, which he had assembled only days before, he executed two flights at an altitude of about 75 feet.

Then the following year Fort Smith made history again when it became the site of the second airmail flight in the United States. Souvenir postcards printed for the occasion are included in the exhibit, as well as details about the region’s female pilots and the local U.S. Air National Guard.

In addition to seeing the Bud Mars exhibit, visitors will enjoy wandering around the museum, which chronicles life in Fort Smith from the frontier era through the 1900s. The museum, located at 320 Rogers Ave., is open from 10 a.m.–5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and 1–5 p.m. on Sunday. Admission is $5 for adults, $2 for children 6–15 and free for children under 6. For details, call (479) 783-7841, or visit


The exhibit features photos, artifacts and more from Arkansas aviation history. Fort Smith Air Museum photo

Alice’s wonderland comes to life in Little Rock exhibit

Lewis Carroll’s “Alice’s Adventures in Wonder-land” is perhaps the best nonsense story ever written, but a new exhibition at the Arkansas Museum of Discovery in Little Rock, Ark., is using the fanciful tale to make sense of science, math and literature.

The new exhibit, “Alice’s Wonderland,” encourages visitors to become as curious as Alice in a journey through the original tale. On display through Sept. 15, the exhibit features areas from the book, including the Rabbit’s Hole and the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party. With quotes from the book and encounters with some of the book’s famous characters, the exhibit brings the story to life while presenting visitors with scientific twists, mathematical turns and literary puzzles.

The museum, which is located at 500 President Clinton Ave., is open 9 a.m.–5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 1–5 p.m. on Sunday. Admission is $8 for adults, $7 for seniors and children 1–12, and free for children under 1. For details, call (501) 396-7050 or click on

Alice Exhibit

Youngsters going through the rabbit’s hole in the exhibit. AMOD photo

Louisiana Tailgate Festival will fire up barbecue fever

Just in time for the start of football season, the Louisiana Tailgate and BBQ Festival kicks off in New Orleans with finger-licking fun.

The combination expo/festival will be held Friday, Aug. 13, through Sunday, Aug. 15, at the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center and Festival grounds. The event offers professional barbecue competitions, hundreds of tailgate and barbecue industry exhibitors, cooking and barbecue demonstrations and more.

The fun kicks off at 3 p.m. on Friday with the Food and Beer Festival, which gets underway in conjunction with the Great American Tailgate Expo. And throughout the weekend, more than 100 teams will compete in the barbecue contest for upwards of $15,000 in prizes. The first challenge will be held that night featuring seafood as the main ingredient.

The festival resumes on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and again on Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. with more food and music, cooking demonstrations as well as a “BBQ Academy” and a children’s entertainment zone.

The convention center is located at 900 Convention Center Blvd. For details about the festival and the grilling competitions, click on At press time for this issue, the admission price had not been determined.

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