Artist rendering of the museum's exterior, provided by Thanksgiving Point.
Maybe you've seen the ads asking "RU Curious 2?" and giving facts, like two rats can produce over a million descendants in 18 months, or all polar bears are left handed (or left pawed). If you did, we bet they piqued your curiosity.
The Museum of Natural Curiosity at Thanksgiving Point broke ground in October 2012, and construction on the LEED-certified 45,000-square-foot space is expected to wrap up by spring 2014. "It's different than a regular kids' museum," says Lorie Millward, Curator of Curiosity. "We tried to create a space for intergenerational activity—where kids, parents and grandparents can interact."
The museum's five galleries and 150 exhibits will focus on principles of engineering, physics and math, along with art, history and culture.
FFKR Architects (EngergySolutions Arena, Abravanel Hall), Okland Construction (Grand America Hotel, Gateway) and designers Roto Group (Utah's Hogle Zoo) teamed up for the project. And they were kind enough to let us on site for a hard hat tour led by Millward.
On the tour, we saw all five galleries under construction:
Kidopolis artist rendering, provided by Thanksgiving Point.
"It's basically a whole town dedicated to kids," Millward says.
The gallery will feature 60 interactive exhibits to unleash creativity in kids, and feature a music studio, health clinic, bank, theater, post office, library, puppet studio, dance studio, art studio and even a laundry mat. Each includes activities to engage kids and families.
At the town's pet clinic, kids can bring in a stuffed animal for an X-ray, and the movie studio will have a green screen and props. You'll also find a tinker shop for DIY projects and an overhead train, which kids can operate at the train station. As you approach Kidopolis, you'll see a tree with keys hanging from it. Bring a key and tell the story behind it to leave your mark on the museum.
Our favorite part of the town will be the magic shop, where there will be clues leading to the actual magician's workshop.
One of the Rainforest chambers under construction.
The rainforest gives you and the kids a chance to explore ancient ruins, while learning about ecosystems, cultures, trade and healthy lifestyles.
In the head of a giant monkey idol, you'll find a chamber of hidden secrets. The chamber has a wheelchair-friendly exit, or you can take the slide to get out. Walk the sturdy rope bridge, or let the kids take on the small climbing wall at the base of the giant sculpture.
The rainforest will also have plenty of mental challenges in ancient chambers where kids and adults will use their senses to solve mysteries.
The Waterworks area under construction.
Guests will learn bout STEM (science, technology, engineering and math), along with energy and weather in this exhibit, which will be styled like Utah's red rock dessert. This is also where kids may get a little wet. There will be more than 30 exhibits, including a giant mechanical water mover, a geyser and sand tables.
CHILDREN'S DISCOVERY GARDEN
The current Children's Discovery Garden will be connected to the rest of the museum. Already, it's a cool place for kids to cool off in the summer, playing in the pool by Noah's Ark. End your day at the museum, enjoying the shooting fountain, magical hedgerow maze, caves and eco-pond and newly-constructed Archimedes Playground, where kids can learn about motion, physics and sciences while at play.
For the first three years, the museum will host traveling exhibits by San Francisco's Exploratorium, teaching guests about the world through science, art and the human perspective. Previous Exploratorium exhibits hosted by Thanksgiving Point included NASA Blast, Notion of Motion and Science of Listening.
Millward says there will also be a central hub, connecting all of the galleries, just in case kids or parents get separated.
The museum will open as Thanksgiving Point's Tulip Festival is in full swing. It's definitely worth the drive for both. In the meantime, you can take the fly through tour on Thanksgiving Point's website.
For more information, visit museumofnaturalcuriosity.org.