Podcasts: Great Hall

About the museum


What is Texas Memorial Museum?

Dr. Edward Theriot, Director of TMM
Time length: 36 seconds

Transcript: The mission of the Texas Memorial Museum, or TMM, is to encourage awareness and appreciation of the past, present and future of life on earth, especially in Texas. The core of the TMM is the research done on more than 5,000,000 geological and biological specimens collected around the world but primarily from Texas. The Texas Memorial Museum is that part of the TMM which develops public programs to bring to Texans the best scientific information possible about the world around them. Its exhibits draw directly from the collections of the Texas Memorial Museum.

Photo of Texas Memorial Museum

What is the outside of the museum made of?

Dr. Edward Theriot, Director of TMM
Time length: 38 seconds

Transcript: The Texas Memorial Museum was established by the Texas Legislature in 1935 as part of celebrations of the Texas Centennial. It was affiliated with The University of Texas because its founders wanted to create a museum with both exhibit and research programs. The goal was to keep natural treasures that were leaving Texas here in Texas, and to bring those treasures to the public. Construction started in 1936 and was completed in 1939. The exterior of the building is limestone quarried from Central Texas. The interior is marble from Italy. In both you can see many fossils of sea creatures that lived millions of years ago.

The Texas Pterosaur

flying animal fossil

What is the largest flying animal ever discovered?

Dr. Edward Theriot, Director of TMM
Time length: 46 seconds

Transcript: The Texas Pterosaur is the largest flying animal ever discovered. Scientists think its wingspan was about 35 feet. However, it may have only weighed about 400 pounds because its bones were extremely hollow and fragile. In fact, nearly all of the fossils of this creature were only preserved because mud filled the fragile bones and hardened. Thus, a fossil skeleton of the Pterosaur would weigh a ton or more. Also, a complete animal has never been found. The recreation in our Great Hall was fashioned from a composite skeleton made up of what were probably 26 different specimens of the Texas Pterosaur. It probably flew by simple soaring and gliding, and also was probably capable of making a motion with its wingtips similar to pushing itself through the air.

Gems and minerals


What causes the blue color in this topaz?

Dr. Ann Molineux, Former Curator of NPL Collections
Time length: 1 minute

Transcript: Topaz is one of the hardest minerals and the hardest natural silicate, an aluminum silicate with varying amounts of water and fluorine. Those with high water content are yellow or brown; those with high fluorine are blue or clear. One of the most famous topaz gemstones is the clear Braganza stone in the Portuguese crown. Thought for centuries to be a diamond, it weighs a mighty 1680 ct…that’s actually smaller than our specimen! Topaz is found in mineralized zones within granites and is secondarily washed into river deposits. Many Texas samples are found in the stream gravels draining the Llano uplift, such as Sandy Creek draining Enchanted Rock, an exposed granite dome northwest of Austin.


Why are the lights so low in this display case?

Dr. Ann Molineux, Former Curator of NPL Collections
Time length: 51 seconds

Transcript: Massive amethyst geodes come from the South American Serra Geral Formation, a basaltic lava flow where the bubbles of gas left cavities in which the mineral crystals later formed. The geodes can be very tall and slender or massive squat shapes such as the one on display. The rich dark purple color of the crystals results from a complex interplay of aluminum and iron, that color can be lost if the specimen is exposed to direct sunlight, halogen or fluorescent light for long periods. If amethyst is subjected to additional heat during formation, it will turn yellow. Citrine, also known as yellow quartz, is formed in this way.

Contact Us


2400 Trinity Street
Austin, Texas 78712-1621


2400 Trinity Street
Mail Stop D1500
Austin, Texas 78712-1621