Voted #1 in USA Today’s Best New Museum 2021 Contest
The Cook Museum of Natural Science is a state-of-the-art natural science museum in downtown Decatur that was voted #1 in USA Today’s Best New Museum 2021 contest. It provides a hands-on, immersive experience where kids can explore, interact with, and learn about nature. Families leave the Cook Museum feeling fulfilled by their time together and inspired by the things they saw and learned. It truly is an amazing experience for families and children of all ages.
In the Cook Museum of Natural Science, visitors will be able to experience nature up-close through interactive Exhibits and hands-on activities that will keep the entire family engaged! You’ll leave amazed, excited, and inspired by the natural world.
Here are a few highlights:
Immersive cave experience
Live animals, including: baby alligators, lizards, snakes, insects, jellyfish, fresh and saltwater fish, an endangered Kemp’s ridley sea turtle, and more
15,000-gallon saltwater aquarium
Forests Exhibit with a tree you can climb up through the inside of and a rope bridge you can cross to a squirrel’s nest high up in a tree
Hands-on interactives including a kinetic sand table, a digital seashell generator, and a meteorite from outer space
… and much, much more!
The History of Cook Museum
The Cook Museum’s humble roots can be traced back to 1968 when John Cook, Sr. opened his professional insect collection to the public by appointment, which at the time had been used primarily for employee training at Cook’s Pest Control. It later grew to include a wide array of mounted wildlife, touring malls throughout Alabama, Tennessee, and Georgia.
In 1980, additional collections of rocks, minerals, fossils, coral, sea shells, mounted wildlife, and federally protected migratory birds were acquired, and a 5,000 square foot building was constructed to house Cook’s Natural Science Museum. From its opening in 1980 until its closing in 2016, the Museum welcomed more than 750,000 visitors . As meaningful as the Museum had been for decades, the Cook family decided it was time to reinvent the Museum as an even more engaging, exciting, and educational experience for the next generation. The new Cook Museum of Natural Science, now a non-profit 501(c)(3), held its grand opening on June 7, 2019.