Better Business Bureau Report for
Houston Museum of Natural Science

Better Business Bureau Report issued December 2013
Better Business Bureau Report expires December 2014

This BBB Accredited charity meets all 20 Standards for Charity Accountability. Find out more...

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Charity Contact Information

Name: Houston Museum of Natural Science
Address: 5555 Hermann Park Drive
  Houston, TX 77030
Phone: 713-639-4629
Web Address:
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Better Business Bureau Comments

Year, State Incorporated: 1909, Texas
Affiliates: None
Stated Purpose: The mission of the Houston Museum of Natural Science shall be to preserve and advance the general knowledge of natural science; to enhance in individuals the knowledge of and delight in natural science and related subjects; and to maintain and promote a museum of the first class.

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Evaluation Conclusions


Houston Museum of Natural Science meets the 20 Standards for Charity Accountability.
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The Houston Museum of Natural Science houses the Burke Baker Planetarium, Wortham IMAX® Theatre, Cockrell Butterfly Center and over a dozen permanent exhibit areas that examine astronomy, space science, Native Americans, paleontology, energy, chemistry, gems and minerals, seashells, Texas wildlife and more. In addition, the museum frequently presents traveling exhibitions on a variety of topics. The Museum also maintains three satellite facilities: The George Observatory in Fort Bend County, which houses one of the largest telescopes in the country that is available for public viewing; and The Woodlands Xploration Station, which has exhibits on dinosaurs; mineralogy; exotic, live insects and more. Also, the Houston Museum of Natural Science at Sugar Land opened in October 2009. The Museum is also a major science learning center with over a half million school children visiting annually, including every fourth grade and eighth grade class in the Houston Independent School District. Just one of many unique educational opportunities available to these students and others is the Challenger Learning Center, the first in a national network, which allows students to experience the teamwork necessary to complete a variety of space tasks. Modeled after NASA, the two-part center houses Mission Control on the Lower Level, which is linked via monitors, microphones and computers to a space simulator located in the Museum's penthouse. The Museum has a second Challenger Learning Center at its George Observatory, located 55 miles south of Houston in Brazos Bend State Park. In 2012, the museum's annual service exceeded 2.2 million, including more than 606,000 services to youth.

For the fiscal year ended December 31, 2012, Houston Museum of Natural Science's program expenses were:

Museum collections and exhibits 10,102,072
Admissions and visitor services 4,100,994
Advertising and public relations 3,850,129
Education programs 2,214,664
Gift shop 978,488
Membership development 799,104
Total Program Expenses: $22,045,451
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Chief Executive : Joel A. Bartsch, President

Chair of the Board: Jason Fertitta
Chair's Profession / Business Affiliation: Morgan Stanley, Private Wealth Management

Board Size: 56

Paid Staff Size: 375

*Compensation includes annual salary and, if applicable, benefit plans, expense accounts, and other allowances.
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Fund Raising


Method(s) Used:

direct mail, invitations to fund raising events, grant proposals, internet, planned giving arrangements
Fund raising costs were 13% of related contributions. (Related contributions, which totaled $8,758,365, are donations received as a result of fund raising activities.)
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Tax Status


This organization is tax-exempt under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. It is eligible to receive contributions deductible as charitable donations for federal income tax purposes.
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The following information is based on Houston Museum of Natural Science's audited financial statements for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2012.

Source of Funds  
Admission fees 9,298,876
Contributions 7,720,067
Operating investment return 3,252,622
Gift shop sales 2,963,733
Non-accessioned inventory sales 2,750,000
Education program fees 2,148,448
Facility rental and parking fees 1,731,295
Net assets released from restrictions: Investment earnings distributed from endowments 1,349,787
Special event-gala 1,038,298
Other revenue 211,941
Cost of goods sold -3,148,597
Total Income $29,316,470


Uses of Funds as a % of Total Expenses

Programs: 84%  Fund Raising: 4%  Administrative: 11%  Other Expenses: 1%

Total income $29,316,470
Program expenses $22,045,451
Fund raising expenses 1,172,852
Administrative expenses 2,864,343
Other Expenses 231,004
Total expenses $26,313,650
Income in Excess of Expenses 3,002,820
Beginning net assets 126,891,548
Ending net assets 138,204,312
Total liabilities 26,906,956
Total assets $165,111,268

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The BBB has processed no complaints about this organization in the past 36 months, our standard reporting period.

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An organization may change its practices at any time without notice. A copy of this report has been shared with the organization prior to publication. It is not intended to recommend or deprecate, and is furnished solely to assist you in exercising your own judgment. If the report is about a charity and states the charity meets or does not meet the BBB Standards for Charity Accountability, it reflects the results of an evaluation of information and materials provided voluntarily by the charity. The name Better Business Bureau is a registered service mark of the Council of Better Business Bureaus, Inc.

This report is not to be used for fund raising or promotional purposes.

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