DALLAS (AP) — Visitors have been flocking to the Perot Museum of Nature and Science since it opened a month ago.
The Dallas Morning News (http://dallasne.ws/10HtJzv ) reported that by midday Monday, 116,000 visitors had passed through the museum since its Dec. 1 opening. The museum also sold 12,000 memberships in December.
"We're pleased with the overwhelming response from the community," said museum CEO Nicole Small, who added that the figures were higher than expected.
While museum leaders have avoided attendance projections, some have hinted that they hope for a million visitors in the first year. Monday's numbers would put the museum on a pace to easily surpass that.
Attendance numbers could have been much higher, but a system limits the number of visitors. Noting that the number varies daily, museum officials say about 350 tickets are dispensed in time-specific half-hour blocks, officials said. When the quota is reached, potential visitors must await the next opening.
"We're trying to make sure it's a good customer experience once you do get inside. We don't want it to be simply overcrowded," Small said.
On most days around the Christmas holiday, those without tickets have been greeted with signs informing them that the entire day is sold out. So, museum leaders urge visitors to buy advance tickets.
Part of the issue may be visitors lingering longer than expected.
"They're staying a long time — three, four, even five hours," Small said. "We've been really amazed about the public's response. The stay time has been a remarkable thing."
The museum's offerings include the chance to feel the ground shake beneath them in an earthquake simulation, program a robot to navigate a maze and even test their speed against a virtual Tyrannosaurus rex.
The museum was named for billionaire former presidential candidate Ross Perot and his wife, Margot, after their five children made a $50 million gift in honor of them.
The $185 million museum, built entirely with private donations, has five floors of public space and stands about 14 stories high.
Perot Museum of Nature and Science, http://www.perotmuseum.org
Information from: The Dallas Morning News, http://www.dallasnews.com