Museum continues to evolve

Feb. 26, 2014 @ 05:09 PM

The Museum of Life and Science in Durham has provided a place for thousands of children to get their hands on the world around them and gain a better understanding of it.
The nonprofit draws visitors from across the state, serving as one of Durham’s major attractions. Those visitors generate dollars for Durham gas stations, hotels and restaurants.
The museum offers wonderful educational opportunities for families.
There’s the Magic Wings Butterfly House, where visitors walk in a tropical environment while butterflies flit about and, if their timing is lucky, they can see a butterfly emerge from its chrysalis. It’s one of the largest butterfly houses in the world.
The Dinosaur Trail offers a glimpse at what creatures looked like in the Cretaceous period, with the opportunity to dig for fossils at the end. For kids, what could be better than digging in the dirt and dinosaurs?
The museum is home to bears, snakes, turtles, wolves and other wildlife. Staff members offer talks to learn more about specific animals and their behaviors, answering questions and pointing out fun facts.
Inside visitors find the space-related items, an ant farm, chances to build, play and create. Outside, the play area is crowded with children climbing, running, playing music and making noise.
There’s the train and the barnyard and Catch the Wind, and much, much more to see and experience.
The museum has changed a great deal over time, adding new components and figuring out new ways to connect with visitors and provide more hands-on opportunities. It’s important that Life and Science continue to change with times and find new ways to engage the families it serves so well.
Its ambitious expansion plans are a marvel and sound like they will delight parents and children alike when complete. Among the planned additions over the next two years are a treehouse village, a waterfall, a place to build structures to see if they can withstand a simulated earthquake and large-scale diggers that can be safely operated.
The $3.9 million price tag attached to the expansion isn’t cheap. But given that the expansion will enhance the museum’s ability to draw for visitors from elsewhere and its efforts to educate children who live right here in Durham, it is money well spent. We are pleased to see one of Durham’s treasures continue to grow and evolve.
“We are creating a one-of-a-kind place that encourages children’s playful exploration of nature, physical activity and keeps alive a child’s sense of wonder,” museum President and CEO Barry Van Demain said of the expansion. It might do the same thing for a few adults, too.