DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – The Perot Museum of Nature and Science had its long-anticipated ribbon cutting Saturday.

The 180,000 square foot exhibit hall hosts 11-permanent exhibits, including a children’s museum, and a “T. Boone Pickens Life, Then and Now Hall” showing animal life in Texas through the ages.

There are some real fossils here along with cast replicas of complete dinosaurs. They’re paired with animals you might see in Texas today.

The museum’s mission: to inspire minds through nature and science.

“I like the planets and the dinosaur exhibit is really cool,” said young Bryant Falconer, who also had his face painted.

Whether travelling through time and space or back in earth’s history, the Perot Museum of Nature and Science wants to teach.

“To be able to experience science, engineering and math in a whole new way,” said Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings.

A parent, Chad Watt, agreed. “No matter what they do in life, having a basic learning of science is so important to children.”

Young Turner Ring talked about what he hoped to learn.  “I am really expecting to see how gravity works.”

Gravity-defying is one way to describe the opening ceremonies.  The performance duo Bandloup did an aerial ballet, hanging by ropes down the side of the museum as dignitaries gathered below for the official ribbon cutting.

Even the architecture, a large floating cube with an odd glass-covered escalator on the side, is designed to spark curiosity.

Of the $185 million used to build the museum, $50 million was donated by the Perot family.  Museum Board Chair Carolyn Perot Rathjen addressed the gathering.

“What we have in front of us is 180,000 square feet of inspiration that will get everybody very excited about science,” she said.

Her father, family patriarch Ross Perot and wife Margot assisted Mayor Mike Rawlings in the formal ribbon cutting.  “I would like you to join me in the great British tradition of 3-cheers,” Perot exhorted the crowd.  “Hip, hip hooray; hip hip, hooray; hip hip, hooray! Thank you!”

The city is counting on the museum attracting people of all ages again and again, both tourists and locals.

“You’re ‘wowed’ by the big things,” said mother Sophia Johnson, “but you’ll have to come back and see details of why it is and how it all hooks together.”

Mayor Rawlings joked, “They’re going to love it, they’re going to have fun, and the minute you walk into that door your IQ goes 10-points just for being here.”

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