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Tom Hunt Energy Hall Slide Show

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DALLAS-The $155-million Perot Museum of Nature & Science is being branded with Texas’ chief economic underwriter. Officials yesterday unveiled details for the Tom Hunt Energy Hall, a signature piece for the 150,000-sf mid-rise project slated to break ground in fall 2009 in Victory.

After four years of capital drives, the team has raised $107 million for the 4.7-acre project, which ultimately could plant up to 500,000 sf of nature and science space on the Uptown site. The mission is to marry exhibit space to educational programs, with a strong science focus, and create a destination for tourists and residents alike.

The public’s first viewing of any space is the Tom Hunt Energy Hall. Now, the team’s moved onto the schematic stage, with the museum’s final design to be unveiled next spring, according to Nicole Small, the museum’s CEO. “This is the most exciting point other than the opening,” she says. “We are working on the exciting design features.” The museum is slated to open in late 2012.

The Tom Hunt Energy Hall will take up 6,500 sf, one of 12 galleries planned for the museum. Other galleries will include medical science, engineering, paleontology, sports science, birding, wildlife conservation, the universe and a children’s museum plus special exhibit space. The 2005 recipient of the prestigious Pritzker Prize–Thom Mayne of Los Angeles-based Morphosis–is the museum’s architect. Ralph Applebaum Associates Inc. of New York City is the interior designer.

“What we do know is it will be a museum unlike any that Dallas, Fort Worth or North Texas has ever seen before. We know that already,” Small tells GlobeSt.com. “We are spending a lot of time thinking about how to use the site. It’s no different than any other developer. It won’t be an isolated museum on a corner. This will be part of the urban fabric of Downtown Dallas.”

The Hunt family made a $10-million leadership gift in 2005 to the capital campaign. The Tom Hunt Energy Hall, named in honor of Hunt Petroleum Corp.’s chairman, is envisioned as a story-telling element for geological and historical aspects of energy and the roles of science and technology in capturing traditional and alternative sources. It also will hold the North Texas Energy Hall of Fame.

Exhibits will address contemporary energy issues and challenges. There will be six galleries with special effects like 3-D computer animation, videos, simulations, dioramas and computer-generated flyovers. Paul G. Bernhard, principal of Paul Bernhard Exhibit Design & Consulting of Houston, and Marina del Rey, designed the energy hall and created the special effects for geology, drilling and production, electrical power generation and transmission and the Barnett Shale, touted as the richest oil and gas vein in the nation and putting North Texas at the forefront of energy production.

“Our industry and the future depend on developing the minds of young people so they can evolve into the talents and resources of the next generation,” John Creecy, former president and CEO of Dallas-based Hunt Petroleum, says in a press release.

The museum emerged in 2006 in a merger of the Dallas Museum of Natural History, the Science Place and the Dallas Children’s Museum, now located in Fair Park and east of Downtown. The new museum will sit at the corner of Woodall Rodgers Freeway and Field Street in Victory, where Downtown and Uptown converge on former brownfield land that Ross Perot Jr. bought and redeveloped in a mix of hotels, American Airlines Center, residential units and boutique shops. The five children of Margot and H. Ross Perot last May donated $50 million to the museum in honor of their parents.

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