DECATUR, Alabama — The Cook Museum of Natural Science is set to open a new $17 million state-of-the-art facility in downtown Decatur June 7 after being closed for more than three years.
The museum will have 11 interactive exhibit galleries over four floors dealing with wildlife, insects, rocks and minerals, space, forests, the arctic, deserts, rivers and more.
The exhibits will include a life-like, walk-in cave, a kinetic sand table, a digital seashell generation, a tree visitors can climb inside of, a 15,000-gallon saltwater aquarium, a 600-gallon freshwater aquarium and a meteorite from outer space.
Live animals will include baby alligators, turtles, snakes, a snowy owl and jellyfish in a special 440-gallon aquarium.
The museum will also have classrooms, a traveling exhibition gallery, a special event space, a retail store and a restaurant.
The museum originated 50 years ago when the owner of a local pest-control company, John Cook Sr., invited the public to see the bug collection used to train employees. An exhibit will show the history of the original Cook Museum including its Tennessee Valley diorama.
The Cook family still is involved in the operation of the museum.