New Museum Expansions in the Triangle
Check out the upcoming changes at local museums
Museums have evolved from the musty, relic-filled places we were forced to visit by well-meaning parents or teachers. Today’s museums are dynamic, interactive, family-friendly spaces designed to educate and entertain.
The Triangle’s museums are no exception. This area is home to a number of museums that are geared toward children or feature child-specific exhibits or programming. To maintain their appeal, museums frequently expand their facilities or add new attractions. That’s the case with several museums in the Triangle. Here are some changes you can expect to see soon in the local museum scene.
North Carolina Museum of Art
2110 Blue Ridge Rd., Raleigh
In August, the North Carolina Museum of Art will unveil the latest expansion of its Museum Park, the outdoor “extension” of the museum featuring kid-friendly works of art and scenic pathways. The expanded park will include tree-lined parking lots, bike and walking paths, and a central elliptic lawn for programs and events. Future expansions will add a new campus entrance and streetscape, increased paved parking capacity, woodland and meadow restoration, additional trails and infrastructure, and more art.
Marbles Kids Museum
201 E. Hargett St., Raleigh
Remember Tom Hanks playing “Heart and Soul” on a floor mat keyboard in the 1988 movie “Big”? Think of a vertical keyboard instead, and you’ve got StepNotes. The StepNotes exhibit, opening in June 2016, is an interactive staircase that responds to children’s steps by producing musical notes and emitting colorful lights. A grant from the MetLife Foundation enabled the museum to create this new attraction, transforming an existing staircase into a fun and movement-oriented activity. StepNotes will be located in the southwest corner of the building on the stairs that lead directly to Power2Play and the Art Loft.
3750 Durham-Chapel Hill Blvd., Durham
Notasium is new to the Triangle museum scene. It opened in August 2015 with the backing of 350 Kickstarter contributors who, together, invested $43,000 to make the children’s museum possible. As the name suggests, Notasium is a music-focused play space and school. Its centerpiece is a playground composed of a variety of interactive structures that produce or display sounds, rhythms and symbols. Notasium also offers music lessons and camps and can host birthday parties.
433 W. Murray Ave., Durham
If you haven’t been to the Museum of Life and Science in the last year, you’re missing out on its newest attraction. Hideaway Woods opened in September 2015, stretching across 2 acres of formerly undeveloped land inside the museum's train tracks. Billed as a nature discovery environment, Hideaway Woods features kid-friendly attractions such as a treehouse village for climbing, a sweetgum thicket for hiding and a recirculating stream for wading. Admission to Hideaway Woods is included in the museum’s entrance fees.
Kidzu Children’s Museum
201 S. Estes Drive, Chapel Hill
Kidzu, which opened in 2006 for guests ranging from infants to tweens and has grown along with the community, recently moved into a new space — its fourth in as many years — in Chapel Hill’s University Place Mall. Kidzu’s organizers have kept fan favorites such as the Makery, Gravitron and Farm to Fork, and added new attractions such as the Forest Theatre and a climbing exhibit called the Tarheel Treehouse. Kidzu will continue to maintain its focus on science/technology/engineering/math (STEM) education, the arts, child health and wellness, and emerging literacy.
Suzanne M. Wood is a Raleigh-based freelance writer and mom of three.