All-New Museum of Discovery Open After Renovation
A totally new and exciting Arkansas Museum of Discovery in Little Rock was unveiled in 2012. Past visitors may not recognize the place. Even the front door is in a new location for easier access. During the past year, the facility was gutted and redone from top to bottom. The result is three new galleries containing 85 very entertaining and interactive exhibits for all ages. In addition to the redesign, the focus of the museum is expanding, as well.
Renovation planning began nearly three years ago. With the help of the Donald W. Reynold Foundation, which provided the museum with a $9.2 million grant, the museum's focus is rededicated as Arkansas' premier math, science and technology center.
The new entrance leads to the Great Hall where a stunning piece of kinetic sculpture hangs overhead. Entitled "A Helix Wave," the beautiful wooden planks undulate, powered by giant piano strings. Watching it do its thing is almost hypnotic.
"The Museum of Discovery has long been considered as a place just for children," said executive director Nan Selz. "With the overhaul came the decision to make it more appealing to adults, as well."
The three new areas of exploration are Amazing You, dealing with the amazing human body; Discovery Hall, where physics, engineering and math are investigated; and Earth Journeys, which examines global earth processes and extreme weather in Arkansas.
The Science Museum of Minnesota worked with the museum to design the three-gallery format, select the exhibits and to develop the interpretive signs.
Visitors can learn about Amazing Airways, build things in the Tinkering Studio, play with a puzzle of the Arkansas River, visit the Extreme Weather Station and see a huge topographic map of the state. New to the museum is Tornado Alley, where visitors can "ride out" the 1999 twister that hit Little Rock while listening to memories of those who experienced it.
A few favorites have been held over from the old property. The Room to Grow area is still there but with a face lift. The theater has been relocated to accommodate larger audiences. Many of AMOD's resident critters are back in new and expanded quarters. The 18 live animal habitats on the museum floor include ferrets, birds, spiders, snakes, owls and flying squirrels.
The Window of Wonder (WOW) Gallery is where traveling exhibits will be located. Coming attractions include Dinosaurs: Ancient Fossils, New Ideas (through April 7), Extreme Deep (April 28-July 29), Design Zone (Aug. 11-Dec. 2) and Grossology (Dec. 15-May 26, 2013).
A packed calendar of events is already scheduled, including African Rhythms and Music in Nature (Feb. 16-18), Sport Science (March 8-10), the state science fair (March 31), Nano Days (April 26-28), Bug Out (May 10-12) and Summer Fun Extravaganza (June 14-16).
The Museum of Discovery is still located at 500 President Clinton Avenue in the downtown Little Rock River Market. Visit www.museumofdiscovery.org or phone 501-396-7050 for more information. - Courtesy of Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism.