Mid-America Science Museum Begins $7.8M Renovation

HOT SPRINGS, AR (News release) - In 2011 the Mid-America Science Museum was awarded a $7.8 million capital grant from the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation to renovate the Museum’s building and exhibits. Since then, Museum staff has been working with construction consultants, architects and exhibit developers to create a state of the art educational experience for Arkansans and tourists from across the country.

The renewed Mid-America Science Museum will offer stronger connections between science and the Museum visitors' everyday lives. With the expansion, the Museum will be able to strengthen its educational mission by appealing to visiting children and their families, while offering expanded learning opportunities for teachers and surrounding school systems. The creation of new outdoor experiences and a significant renovation of the Museum’s interior will ensure that Mid-America will be a more distinctive and memorable destination for visitors.

Some of the more iconic experiences will include The Oaklawn Foundation Digital Dome Theater, which will offer a diverse array of shows that complement educational objectives as well as traveling exhibit content in the Museum. The theater will seat up to 50 people and have full-dome projection-style films that will immerse the families and children with a 180-degree viewing area.

The Bob Wheeler Science Skywalk, sponsored by the Advertising and Promotion Commission of Hot Springs, will offer a unique experience found nowhere else in the State. This outdoor exhibition will extend into the forest canopy from the main building, offering visitors young and old an opportunity to experience a shift in perspective as they investigate science found in nature. A tree-house pavilion, rope netting and hands-on activities will add to the adventure.

Exhibits in Arkansas Underfoot will allow visitors to investigate biology, geology and topography that is unique to Arkansas. Guests will crawl through a realistic cave, use a “rock crusher” to learn about erosion, explore an interactive sandbox and watch as beetles scavenge for food.

The first gallery visitors will see when entering the museum will be The Marvelous Motion Gallery. A study of the basic concepts of physics, this gallery will entice curiosity by exploring natural phenomena such as wave motion, kinetic energy and gravity.

The Workshops will provide a major new platform for the Museum to increase its emphasis discovery learning by utilizing core principles of structure, movement, control, and communication through individual work stations using common materials. The four workshops will be based on specific topics in science. The “Animation Workshop” will explore stop motion animation using computers, 16mm film and a variety of zoetropes. A ten-foot tall climbing structure will anchor the “Rhythm and Patterns Workshop”, where children and adults can learn how math is used in our daily lives. The “Force and Energy Workshop” will use a vintage steam engine, infrared imaging and a giant gravity tower to examine the relationship between force and energy. The “Fluid Motion Workshop” will showcase a two-story interactive water tower that will engage all ages.

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