View of the Daniel F. and Ada L. Rice DNA Discovery Center, prominently showing a large model of a DNA double helix and an interactive touchscreen table. Windows in the background look into the Pritzker Laboratory for Evolutionary Biology and Molecular Sy

DNA Discovery Center

Category: Exhibition

Exhibition Summary


Included with Basic admission

Targeted age groups

All ages


Anchor: #one-tiny-moleculea-world-of-scientific-possibility

One tiny molecule—a world of scientific possibility.

Despite our planet’s astounding biodiversity, all life on Earth has one thing in common: DNA. It contains the genetic keys to development and reproduction, from microscopic bacteria to plants, fungi, and animals. Learn more about this molecule—and its importance in scientific research—in the Daniel F. and Ada L. Rice DNA Discovery Center.

In the Rice DNA Discovery Center, peek directly inside our state-of-the-art genetic research facility, the Pritzker Laboratory for Evolutionary Biology and Molecular Systematics. Scientists are in the midst of analyzing thousands of species’ DNA, comparing their genetic codes, and mapping out the relationships among all living things on Earth.

Few museums have in-house DNA research facilities, and even fewer allow you to look inside while scientists are hard at work. Watch live as discoveries happen in this real, working lab.

Scientists who work in the Pritzker DNA Lab—such as lab technician Isabel Distefano, pictured here—examine a wide range of DNA, from Antarctic fungi to Amazonian birds.

Scientists collect specimens, extract the DNA, amplify and sequence it, then analyze the DNA to determine evolutionary relationships between individuals and species and develop strategies on how to preserve them.

DNA Discoveries: Shark Sex

Yes, shark sex! We’re not nosy—we’re scientists.

Get a behind-the-scenes look at shark reproduction through Dr. Kevin Feldheim’s research. Feldheim’s work has ranged from observing sharks in the wild to examining their DNA, all to learn more about the mating and reproductive habits of these creatures.

Shark Sex features a life-size Lemon Shark model and immersive video content for a fresh perspective on his work. It’s just one example of the new things DNA can teach us if we only look.

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