About us

We are Open: Thursday - Saturday 11:00AM to 4:00PM
Admission $7 for 12 years and up. $3 for 4-11 years. Under 4 is free

The Earth Experience, the Middle Tennessee Museum of Natural History, is the first natural history museum in Middle Tennessee. The museum has displays from all over the world but has a very large number of items from Tennessee. Come see our dinosaurs, fossils, gems, minerals, rocks and archeological relics.

This is not your typical natural history museum! We have an interactive, dynamic museum where visitors will not only see ongoing research and activities they will be offered chances to participate. Visitors will see a working paleontology laboratory where they will see real dinosaur bones cleaned and repaired. A molding and casting operation will be making dinosaur displays as well as the souvenirs for sale in the gift shop. The Mid Tennessee Gem and Mineral Society offers workshops on jewelry making in the museum.

The current location for the museum is just the first step to creating one of the top Natural History Museums in the world. Current collections could already fill 5 times the present space and the collection grows almost every day. Also the museum has an active dig program and every summer collects more dinosaur bones in Montana.

Museum Directors

Alan Brown

Executive director

Mr. Brown has a Bachelor's of Science in Geology and Master's of Science in Hydrogeology from Illinois State University. Mr. Brown taught Earth Science classes at Middle Tennessee State University for 8 years. He was the director of the MTSU mineral, gem and fossil museum for 5 years. For the past 4 summers he has participated in dinosaur excavations in Montana and he taught Dinosaur Paleontology for Dawson Community College in Glendive, Montana.

Lewis and Anna Elrod


Lewis is the president and chairman of the board of the Middle Tennessee Museum of Natural History. His lifelong passion for collecting minerals and fossils is matched only by his enthusiasm for sharing his interests with others. Anna has supported Lewis in his collecting of minerals for more than 40 years.

Lewis was eight years old when he first began his collection with crinoid stems (Indian money) that he found while visiting relatives in Oklahoma. He kept these fossils in an old coffee can. In college, Lewis enrolled in a craft class in which he cut and polished a blue tiger eye gemstone and several other pieces he had collected. After he and Anna married, Lewis began making jewelry for her and, with her help, began acquiring interesting and unusual minerals found both locally and worldwide. Their collection gradually grew from a few crinoid fossils in a small tin can to a barn full of boxes of minerals collected over the years. Lewis founded the Mid-Tennessee Gem and Mineral Society in Murfreesboro in 1978 and served as the club's first president. While looking for ways to build public interest in the club and hobby, he became aware of the beautiful minerals found at the Elmwood Mine in Carthage. He contacted the mine operator and was loaned several nice specimens to show at club meetings. He was fascinated by these beautiful minerals and began extensive research about them. He also began acquiring many specimens from Elmwood to add to his personal collection. Some of his Elmwood and other specimens are on display here in the museum.

Lewis had always dreamed of starting a natural history museum. His dream took shape in 2012 when he and Alan Brown founded "Earth Experience the Middle Tennessee Museum of Natural History." Shortly after the museum moved into its current facility in early 2014, Lewis and Anna purchased an unassembled cast of the Fort Peck T. rex dinosaur skeleton. The museum opened to the public in September 2014 and their T. rex dinosaur went on display in October 2015.

The museum's "Hall of Minerals" is named after Lewis and Anna in honor of their dedication to and passion for sharing their love of natural history with the residents of Middle Tennessee.

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