HIGH POINT — Exhibits are taking shape both inside the Nido and Mariana Qubein Children’s Museum and on its grounds at the corner of Montlieu Avenue and N. Hamilton Street.
Passersby who were intrigued by the sight of three dinosaur heads above the fence may be glad to know a few more, including a Tyrannosaurus rex, are planned in response to community requests, Executive Director Megan Ward said.
A double-decker carousel is expected to arrive Monday and will take a few weeks to be installed outside the museum, Ward said. Museum leaders expect to announce an opening date soon, she said.
High Point residents of all ages answered the call to provide ideas for High Point’s first children’s museum and donate artifacts for children to explore and discover inside the Congdon Hall of Mysteries. It’s one of more than a dozen exhibits designed by Argyle of Brooklyn, New York, and packed into two floors to inspire fun and learning for children and parents.
“It’s going to be fun to solve riddles, mysteries and use your brain,” Ward said, adding that the attraction has appeal for children of all ages. “They’re going to be learning here. They’re going to get to touch all these dials and things they’re usually not allowed to.”
For example, there will be a bank safe that children can try to open and coding elements to decipher “and feel that sense of accomplishment when they do solve it,” Ward said.
Other exhibits in the 58,000-square-foot building, scheduled to open this fall, include the Courage Climber, a vertical 29-foot structure with steps shaped like flower petals that teaches bravery to those who choose to climb up within the structure. While it may appear daunting, no one could fall more than 18 inches between steps, Ward said.
Families and children will be greeted with light, color and activity as they enter the museum. The climbing structure, behind a glass elevator, will be one of the first exhibits in view at the entrance, said Olivia Pekkala, director of marketing and communications.
“The kids will see that as they walk through our gallery,” Pekkala said. “It will be their main focal point, and I feel like they’re just going to run toward it.”
In addition to the Courage Climber, they will see a model of the solar system overhead and other children waving from the Mars Space Module 20 feet above. Mars Academy, which includes the Space Module and Lab and Mission Control, is among Ward’s favorite exhibits.
“Kids will be training to be cadets to fly in an expedition to Mars and to build a colony,” Ward said. “It will have a habitat where they zip themselves into a (vertical) sleep sack, report to Mission Control and practice their flight skills.”
Cadets can explore Mars terrain, collect rocks to test and document and learn to service a Mars terrain vehicle. Children also will be able to measure their Mars weight and monitor multiple life support systems. They’ll see how astronauts prepare food, brush their teeth and even flush a space toilet.
Children of all ages will experiment in the museum’s STEAM lab (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) as well as splash and learn about physics in a water play area where they don’t get soaked.
“They’ll play with water but they won’t get in it,” Ward said. “We have smocks and dryers.”
At the Witcher Super U Fit Lab they can measure such things as how high they can jump, as well as climb the Jungle Island Obstacle Course, scale cityscape rooftops, balance on stepping stones (including on top of a pretend alligator) and wiggle their way through paths while testing their powers at the exercise and nutrition stations.
They can also test their nutritional choices by using a receipt from Kids Point, a child-sized town with a restaurant, firetruck, grocery store, car repair and furniture design lab. The stations reflect activities children can see around High Point.
Ward toured every children’s museum in North Carolina as well as others in Tennessee and Mississippi to get ideas but said she found the most inspiration from local parents and children. Argyle’s designers came to High Point to meet with educators, parents and children to find out what they wanted in a children’s museum.
Ward said she hopes people will consider the museum as they plan birthday parties, field trips, educational programming, community events and even weddings. There will be a modest charge for rental and admission.
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