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Natural History Museum celebrates 20 years

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Sam Morris

Patrons looks at a display of the evolution of the human species during the 20th anniversary celebration at the Las Vegas Natural History Museum Saturday, July 16, 2011.

Updated Saturday, July 16, 2011 | 8:13 p.m.

Las Vegas Natural History Museum 20th Anniversary

The animatronic T-Rex dinosaur shakes his head during the 20th anniversary celebration at the Las Vegas Natural History Museum Saturday, July 16, 2011. Launch slideshow »

Las Vegas is probably better known for tearing down any remnants of its recent history, but on Saturday, people were invited to revel in the past as the Las Vegas Natural History Museum celebrated its 20th anniversary.

Outside the museum, visitors were greeted by food trucks and a DJ spinning the latest tunes. Once inside, however, they took a step back in time — making their way through the darkened maze of The Pharaoh’s Tomb exhibit and taking in replicas of priceless Egyptian antiquities.

To mark its anniversary, the museum hosted the special celebration to bring in families and children. Admission prices were ancient, too — slashed to 1991 levels.

“We want kids to have fun,” said Marilyn Gillespie, executive director of the museum. “There’s a lot to learn here and if they’re having fun, they’re going to learn more and it will spark an interest.”

The Treasures of Egypt exhibit allows visitors to see how archeologists unearthed Egyptian treasures, including the tomb of Tutankhamun, and includes replicas of some of the best-known artifacts. The replicas are one of just two sets authorized by the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities.

The museum — sometimes referred to by children as the “dinosaur museum” for its prehistoric life gallery — also had live snakes, rabbits and turtles for children to pet and take pictures with.

Joyce Lansford, an Illinois grandmother, accompanied her 3-year-old grandson and 5-year-old granddaughter to the museum.

Lansford said she was surprised at how real the replicas were and was glad her grandchildren had fun.

“(My grandson) got to hold a tortoise,” Lansford said. “It’s a great experience for kids and I love it, too.”

The museum also features marine and wildlife galleries and a Young Scientist Center that lets children experience digging for fossils or exploring the depths of the ocean as a marine biologist in a submarine.

Admission for Saturday’s “Anniversari-Saurus” event were reduced to $5 for adults and $2.50 for children.

“We rolled back the prices to what they were in 1991,” Gillespie said. Standard admission is $10 for adults; $8 for seniors, military and students; and $5 for children ages 3 to 11.

Although the anniversary celebration was just one day, Gillespie encourages families to visit the museum. “These are experiences that you don’t get anywhere else in Las Vegas,” she said.

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