Places to Explore

Missouri Institute of Natural Science (A Little Dinosaur Museum in Springfield, MO)

There’s a cute hidden gem right here in Springfield for those of you with dinosaur-loving kids, or even recently-fascinated kids like mine who just finished watching The Land Before Time for the first time. The Missouri Institute of Natural Science is a little building kind of in the middle of nowhere, with a big room full of fossils, prehistoric bones (is that the same thing?), artifacts, rocks and shells and some cool dinosaur history.

Besides some huge bones that belong to Henry the Triceratops (a dinosaur that is being restored behind the scenes by paleontologists and will soon be displayed right in the entrance), there are little models, lots of display cases with cool things to see, a wooly mammoth head, beautiful rocks and shells, and lots of information posted throughout the room. Angela was our knowledgeable volunteer guide who let us explore, answered questions and provided information about a lot of the displays. Her excitement and pride in the exhibits was inspiring.

You can visit for FREE, although donations are appreciated. We stayed for about an hour inside the building, but you can extend your stay by taking a (non-paved) trail to an area where you can look for real fossils to take home! We plan to come back one day to see what we can find.

We were encouraged to like the Missouri Institute of Natural Science on Facebook so we could see the progress being made on building Henry the Triceratops (he’s supposed to be finished and displayed by next spring). Between the website and the Facebook page, you can also find events at the Institute – Yoga Night, a Solar Eclipse Viewing Party and Dino Camp, to name a few – for the whole family.

What a great place! I loved learning some new things, and my kids are still talking about what they saw. It’s a fun chance to incorporate some history into your kids’ day and open opportunities for questions and new experiences.

What You Need To Know:

  • Address: 2327 W. Farm Road 190, Springfield
  • Hours: You can stop in anytime from 9 am – 4:30 pm (Monday – Friday) and 10 am – 4 pm (Saturday)
  • Website
  • FREE (donations appreciated)

If your kids are old enough to take a hike, take some time to explore the trails – starting behind the building to the right of the parking lot – to look for fossils and try to see some wildlife. Riverbluff Cave is currently an active research site and is not open to the public.




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