The Tom Hunt Energy Hall Plans Unveiled

The Museum of Nature & Science unveils plans for the Tom Hunt Energy Hall at the Perot Museum of Nature & Science


Goal is to create the best energy hall in the world at the new Perot Museum of Nature & Science

DALLAS (Oct. 23, 2008) – With a “goal to create the best energy hall in the world,” officials from the Museum of Nature & Science today unveiled plans and the name of the new Tom Hunt Energy Hall, which will become one of the prime signature exhibit areas in the new Perot Museum of Nature & Science at Victory Park in downtown Dallas. Groundbreaking for the new facility is expected to begin in 2009.

“The Tom Hunt Energy Hall will explore every kind of energy resource found in nature, and it will delve into how humans have used science and technology throughout history to develop that energy,” said Nicole Small, CEO of the Museum of Nature & Science. “As we confront critical energy issues now and in the future, the Hall’s purpose becomes even more relevant. Our hope is that people will look to the Museum for the latest developments on everything from alternative energy sources to conservation tips, to the implications of energy at regional, national and global levels.”

The Tom Hunt Energy Hall, named in honor of Hunt Petroleum Chairman Tom Hunt, recognizes the $10 million early leadership gift that Hunt Petroleum made to the Museum in 2005 to move the Expansion Project forward. World-class and Texas-sized, the new 6,500-square-foot gallery will be dedicated to telling the rich geological and historical stories of nature’s energy sources and exploring how science and technology are used to capture the vast array of traditional and alternative energy resources. It will also focus on contemporary energy issues and challenges facing society today. The hall will play an instrumental role enabling the Museum to fulfill its mission of inspiring minds through nature and science.

“We believe very strongly in the Museum and are proud to play a role in its development. We so desperately need engineers and science professionals, and a museum helps to do that,” said John Creecy, former president and CEO of Hunt Petroleum. “Every time a child visits the Museum they’re going to discover something new, experience exciting concepts and begin to imagine the possibilities. Our industry and the future depend on developing the minds and thinking of our young people so they can evolve into the talents and resources of the next generation.”

To make the exhibits stimulating, fun and educational, the Museum will use state-of-the-art video; 3-D computer animation; thrilling, lifelike simulation; hands-on activities; interactive kiosks and dioramas; energy IQ quizzes; tabletop landscapes; animated music videos; high-resolution, computer-generated flyovers; and more. The exhibits will be accessible and user friendly for everyone from pre-schoolers to lifelong learners.

“Because of Hunt Petroleum’s generosity, North Texans and visitors from throughout the world will gain new knowledge and appreciation for our energy resources,” said Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert. “I also know, that as the father of three college-age students, the Tom Hunt Energy Hall is going to open the eyes of a lot of kids and inspire them to get excited about careers in math and science.”

Paul G. Bernhard, principal of Paul Bernhard Exhibit Design & Consulting of Houston and Marina Del Rey, created the hall’s innovative design and special effects, drawing upon his multi-faceted talents as a writer, award-winning PBS producer and actor, designer and exhibit developer to create the massive museum exhibit. He has developed numerous exhibits, films, musical videos and more for museums and institutions across the globe (see Bernhard’s bio for more details).

“The Museum intends to create the best energy hall in the world, and this one is going to be unforgettable. We hope that everybody walks away having learned a lot about energy, a topic of huge relevance in our world today, but we also want them to have an extraordinary experience as they explore the galleries,” said Bernhard.

The Tom Hunt Energy Hall, located adjacent to the Museum’s Dynamic Earth Hall, will include six main galleries: the Geology Gallery, the Drilling & Production Gallery, the Barnett Shale Gallery, the Electrical Power Generation & Transmission Gallery, the Alternative Energy Sources Gallery, and the Future Energy Challenges Gallery. Also on tap is the North Texas Energy Hall of Fame, a tribute to the pioneers in the local industry – spanning the early years of the 20th century to the Barnett Shale developments to the alternative energy discoveries being made in North Texas today.

“The Tom Hunt Energy Hall will be more than a state-of-the-art exhibition hall, but also serve as a focal point for all energy-related events in North Texas – from distinguished lecture series, town hall meetings, public forums and seminars, to youth education programs, professional society meetings and other industry-related functions,” said Frank-Paul King, chairman of the Museum’s Board of Trustees. “If the topic is energy, the ‘place to go’ will be the new Tom Hunt Energy Hall at the Perot Museum of Nature & Science.”

Visitors will begin their journey through the Tom Hunt Energy Hall with a fast-paced five-minute introductory video that explores how energy was created and formed. From there, visitors will move through the Hall, finding a broad scope of topics from the use of food, wood and whale oil as the first energy sources, to how an oil well works, to the latest innovations in energy conservation, to solar and wind power.

One major highlight of the Hunt Energy Hall is the Barnett Shale Geology “Shale Voyager” where guests will ride down (and then sideways!) through a well in the Barnett Shale. This elevator-like simulator has sliding doors that open to reveal a high-tech platform large enough to contain about 30 people. The walls are covered with huge video screens designed as view ports to reveal the scenic wonders of a journey deep into the Barnett Shale. The platform is mounted on a system of pneumatics that allows the entire cabin to move in simulating the rigorous journey through the well. Visitors first descend vertically to the 7,000-foot level and then move horizontally, as they see how such “directional wells” make exploitation of the shale possible today. Events along the way include the latest in casing, perforating, and fracturing technology, followed by a thrilling return to the surface.

Other highlights include the following:

  • Visitors will interact with displays to “dial up” the pressure and temperature to produce oil in the “hydrocarbon pressure cooker.”
  • A large tabletop landscape surrounded by hand wheels that, when turned, will lift up sections of the landscape revealing one of the major hydrocarbon trapping formations: fault, anticline, salt dome and stratigraphic trap.
  • Visitors will enter a room featuring 3-D animation on a wrap-around screen depicting how all the geologic, geophysical and well data for a reservoir are integrated to produce a detailed model of the underground layers. Using the 3-D model, they will get a chance to drill a well in hopes of hitting “black gold” instead of the commonly found “dry hole.
  • A computer model on a large screen will entice guests to “navigate” from various land rigs to offshore rig types, from very shallow water to the extremes of today’s deepwater rigs.
  • Visitors will enter a larger-than-life-sized rotating drill bit to explore the technology of drilling oil and gas wells.

Throughout the hall, visitors also will see a variety of illustrative graphics depicting people working as exploration geologists, reservoir engineers, roughnecks, alternative fuels specialists and more. “Because it’s so important to get young people interested in math and science, you’ll find information and
visuals everywhere showcasing an array of rewarding careers related to the energy industry,” said Forrest Hoglund, Chairman of the Museum’s Leadership Council.

Plans to expand Museum of Nature & Science include innovative building, dynamic exhibits 

The Museum of Nature & Science will build a new state-of-the-art nature and science museum at Victory Park in Dallas, which will supplement the existing Fair Park facilities. The Victory Park facility will be named the Perot Museum of Nature & Science, as a result of the $50 million gift made by the Perot children in honor of their parents, Margot and H. Ross Perot.

The Museum will be constructed on a 4.7-acre site at the northwest corner of Woodall Rodgers Freeway and Field Street adjacent to Victory Park. In January 2008, the Museum named 2005 Pritzker Prize Laureate Thom Mayne of Morphosis as the architect for its new facility. Mayne is the first American in 17 years (since 1991) to be selected for architecture’s most prestigious award, the Pritzker Prize. This achievement capped a three-decade career in which Mayne received more than 100 awards and honors from across the world.

The need for additional space became evident after the 2006 merger, unlike any in the nation, of three cultural institutions – the Dallas Museum of Natural History (est. 1936), The Science Place (est. 1946) and the Dallas Children’s Museum (est. 1995). Once the Victory Park museum opens, the Fair Park facility will continue to play a critical role. Dallas architecture firm Good Fulton & Farrell currently is developing a comprehensive space plan for the Fair Park facilities.

The combined Fair Park and Victory Park facilities will dramatically increase space so that the Museum can showcase a wider spectrum of its valuable collections, incorporate modern technology, host worldclass traveling exhibitions, and greatly expand its educational programs for schoolchildren and the general public. With the new spaces, the Museum can better accomplish its mission to “inspire minds through nature & science” and help Dallas and its citizens maintain their competitive edge by developing an educated workforce for the future.

The approximately 150,000 square-foot facility will be walking distance from the American Airlines Center, W – Dallas Victory Hotel and House of Blues, and just minutes from the Dallas Arts District, the largest urban cultural district in the country; the Sixth Floor Museum; the Trinity River Corridor Project; and intown districts such as Uptown and Turtle Creek. Visitors will have easy access to the Museum by riding DART light rail trains to Victory Station at the American Airlines Center; by traveling on any of the nearby roads, including Interstate 35E, Central Expressway and the North Dallas Tollway; or by using the Katy Trail pedestrian/bicycle paths.

Museum leadership is seeking additional support for the galleries, displays and programming within the hall as well as throughout the entire new facility. To date, funds raised for the Expansion Project Campaign exceed $107 million.

To donate to the Museum of Nature & Science, please contact Anne Haskel at 972.201.0591 or


About the Museum of Nature & Science
The Museum of Nature & Science – the result of a unique merger in 2006 between the Dallas Museum of Natural History, The Science Place and the Dallas Children's Museum – is a non-profit educational organization located in Dallas' Fair Park. In support of its mission to inspire minds through nature and science, the museum delivers exciting, engaging and innovative visitor experiences through its education, exhibition, and research and collections programming for children, students, teachers, families and life-long learners. The facility also includes the TI Founders IMAX® Theater and a cutting-edge digital planetarium. The Museum of Nature & Science is supported in part by funds from the City of Dallas Office of Cultural Affairs, the Texas Commission on the Arts and EDS. To learn more about the Museum of Nature & Science, please visit


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