While Rockingham’s downtown location has been recognized as meeting the overall mission of Discovery Place, Inc.’s, the first of these museums is scheduled to open
The Huntersville museum will open its doors to the public at 9 a.m. on Oct. 23 following a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 8:45 a.m.
Discovery Place KIDS - Huntersville is a 23,000 square foot museum - the only children’s museum in the greater Charlotte region and will offer learning-based opportunities for children younger than eight that focus on the development of the whole child.
According to John Mackay, president and CEO of Discovery Place, Inc., the development of the children’s museums is a response to a swelling population.
“The region has seen an explosion in residential growth, especially in the municipalities and counties surrounding Charlotte, and we are responding to the need expressed by families in those communities for more creative learning experiences closer to home,” Mackay said. “Discovery Place KIDS provides unique educational opportunities for young children in a safe, playful setting that is part of the neighborhood.”
Mackay said they anticipate that the town’s investment will reap rewards for that community and the entire North Mecklenburg and South Iredell region.
“Our demographics fit the mission of Discovery Place KIDS,” said Huntersville Mayor Jill Swain. “The entire population is interested in the education of kids.”
She said she had spoken to Mackay about his vision of interactive children’s museums years ago, and that when the idea turned into a project, it was met with some political challenges as some were unable to see the vision.
“We are thrilled that this is finally coming into fruition,” said Swain. “I’ve been in it several times, and I can’t wait until the citizens get to see it.”
Swain describes how she sees parents park in the museum parking lot with their children and head to the front door to see if it’s open yet.
Much of this may sound like the kind of response Rockingham could get when Discovery Place, Inc. moves closer towards finalizing the proposed children’s museum in downtown Rockingham at the McKenzie Furniture Building on East Washington Street.
Richmond County can look at what Huntersville aims to offer children to see what they can expect. Although the exhibits and themes will be different, they will still focus on developmentally appropriate experiences that promote imagination and learning as well as the opportunity to test skills and ideas while building confidence.
The Huntersville children’s museum’s exhibits will mix areas of work and play and are set around a small town. In addition to the exhibits, live programming will include story time, a visual art studio and puppet shows. Workshops for tots, summer camps and birthday parties will also be available.
Discovery Place KIDS — Huntersville includes nine main exhibits areas, seven of which are modeled after the “I CAN” theme; as in, I CAN move - in the air, on land, and in water; I CAN create - a masterpiece in the visual arts studio or display creative flair on the Town Hall Theatre stage and in the Puppet Theatre; I CAN be healthy - by role-playing in a grocery store, a doctor’s office, a fitness center, a cafe, and by visiting a farm; I CAN work - as a firefighter, a banker, veterinarian or other community helper; I CAN explore underwater - by playing captain of a ship or driving a submarine; I CAN build - as part of a construction crew, moving bricks in the Brick Factory using cranes and conveyor belts, and design and construct a building; I CAN grow - a special play space just for children from birth to 36 months. There is also a Learning Garden where children can experience the wonders of outside while playing in areas devoted to nature art, sound, container gardens, digging and building.
“As Discovery Place’s first children’s museum, it serves as a great complement to Discovery Place, which showcases science and technology,” said Mackay.
The Huntersville museum will be open until 5 p.m. and on Sunday from noon until 5 p.m. Special opening weekend admission will be half price both days; $4 for adults and children age one or older. Children younger than one are free.
Discovery Place KIDS’ regular operation hours will be Tuesday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Saturday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday noon to 5 p.m.; Monday closed. Admission to the museum is $8 for adults and children age one or older, with children under one free. Discounts are available for groups of 15 or more.
Dawn Kurry can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 997-3111 ext. 15.