Opened in May 1992 following two years of planning, the museum’s What if . . .? exhibit focused on sparking the imaginations of 6- to 10-year-olds, challenging them to explore three topics:
- What if you could see inside a mummy? Using X-rays of the museum’s then-resident mummy Wenuhotep visitors could learn about ancient Egypt and imagine what it would have been like to live back then.
- What if you uncovered dinosaur fossils? Replicas of bones from 31 dinosaur species were buried in a simulated paleontological dig site. Visitors could discover find them and examine the similarities and differences among the various species.
- What if you could live under the sea? A replicated undersea environment contained a 10,000-piece shell collection and a large aquarium stocked with an array of fish and plants, permitting visitors to imagine what life underwater is like. There was also a mini-submarine in which visitors could pretend to be exploring the ocean deep.
The exhibit remained open until 2010 when it was closed to make way for National Geographic’s Treasures of the Earth.