Mid-America Science Museum in Hot Springs on Tuesday unveiled new designs for a $7.8 million renovation of its building and exhibits.
The museum is paying for the renovation through a 2011 grant from the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation and additional money from the Oaklawn Foundation.
"The Mid-America Science Museum is a tremendous asset to our community, the state of Arkansas, and the region as a whole," Darrell Meyer, president of the Oaklawn Foundation, said in a news release about the project. "We are pleased to do our part to help make the renovation a reality and create an amazing hands-on learning space for children and adults of all ages."
Museum officials said construction with begin this summer, starting with a new skywalk connecting the main building with the forest canopy that surrounds it. By fall 2014, the museum will close for about six months to complete the interior facility work and exhibit installation.
It plans to finish the project and re-open on March 1, 2015. Wittenberg Delony & Davidson Architects of Little Rock is the project's architect, and Nabholz Construction Services of Little Rock is the general contractor.
Plans and architectural renderings for the project are available at Mid-America Science Museum's website here.
According to Diane LaFollette, the museum's executive director, part of the renovation includes new and updated exhibits for school groups, activities for adults, and opportunities for teacher professional development in hands-on science education.
Among the planned new features:
- The Oaklawn Foundation Digital Dome Theater, which will seat up to 50 people and have a full-dome projection-style show with a 180-degree viewing area.
- The Bob Wheeler Science Skywalk, which will extend into the forest canopy from the main building, offering visitors an up-close look at native plants and animal life surrounding the museum.
- New exhibits in the 5,600-SF Arkansas Gallery, which will include a refurbished "underground" cave experience, a refurbished Mastodon skeleton replica and a central tree-shaped structure that will function as a base for exhibits about soil and small works by local artisans.
- New exhibits in the 3,500-SF Forces in Motion exhibit gallery, devoted to forces and effects of matter, energy and gravity.
- The Inventors Workshop gallery, which the museum calls "a major new platform" for discovery learning. The space will include up to six workshops on heat and temperature, mechanics, fluids, math and patterns, time and motion perception, structures, and electricity and magnetism.
Established in 1971, Mid-America Science Museum occupies a 60,000-SF facility on 21 beautiful acres in Hot Springs. The museum emphasizes science and education through interactive exhibits and programs.
More: Click below to watch Mid-America's presentation on the renovations: