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Elected officials, community partners, and financial supporters joined Danville Science Center staff and board members Thursday morning for a ribbon cutting ceremony to mark the opening of the first new permanent exhibit at the STEM-focused organization since it opened its doors to guests nearly 25 years ago.
Students from First Presbyterian Day School and the Harvest Corner Learning Center attended the ceremony and were the first children to explore “Crescent Crossing,” the new train-themed exhibit dedicated to preschool-age children.
“The wonder, curiosity, and discovery those children displayed—and most importantly the smiles on every single face—says it all,” said Mayor of the City of Danville Alonzo Jones. “This new exhibit, along with the future enhancements that the Science Center has in store, will have a lasting impact on the Dan River Region.”
“Crescent Crossing,” a 1,800-square-foot space, introduces families to important science, technology, engineering and math fundamentals, such as creativity, problem-solving and cause and effect. Nestled in the historic Danville Train Station, the exhibit uses trains and tracks, musical panels, peek-a-boo windows, a busy board, a slide and much more to connect children to right-sized, hands-on opportunities. The exhibit helps build confidence in young learners as they develop new skills and empowers caregivers to engage curious children. “Crescent Crossing” is the only experience in the area focused specifically on encouraging children ages five and under to learn through play.
In January 2019, the Science Center embarked on a major refreshment of its core exhibits starting with the historic train station galleries. “Crescent Crossing” is the first of three other new signature exhibits that will make up the reimagined Science Center. A “Water” exhibit about the chemical makeup, ecology, and power of the natural resource; a “Go” exhibit about the physics of motion; and a creativity lab offering guests hands-on access to craft and design tools will be installed over the next two years.
In addition to the installation of “Crescent Crossing,” the phase one renovation of the 120-year-old train station building included enhancements to gallery space that the Science Center will use to host special events and traveling exhibitions, such as “Human Plus” opening later in September of this year.
“Breathing new life into Science Center will allow us to help guests make deeper connections to science in the world around them,” said Executive Director Adam Goebel. “The Crescent Crossing exhibit is the first in a line of enriching experiences that will establish the Science Center as a world-class dynamic community resource, and put us on the trajectory of being the pre-eminent regional destination for informal learning and discovery for a diverse, multi-generational audience by 2025.”
The Science Center is a satellite location of the Science Museum of Virginia in Richmond, which completed the last of its major interior refurbishments last fall with the opening of a permanent makerspace, “The Forge.” This multi-year project created new opportunities to highlight how informal educational organizations, such as science museums and centers, can enrich a community and inspire guests to enjoy the process of discovery.
“STEM literacy is a fundamental competency in today’s world,” said Science Museum of Virginia Chief Wonder Officer Richard Conti. “It informs our choices at the gas pump, grocery store, and ballot box, how we care for our lawns, pay our bills and connect with our communities—both locally and globally. By offering a lens through which to view our world and fostering an inquiring outlook informed by science and data, we are encouraging guests ages 1 to 101 to practice science in their everyday lives.”
A gift of $3 million in late 2018 from the Danville Regional Foundation combined with $5.25 million awarded from the state, $250,000 from the Hughes Memorial Foundation and a $500,000 investment from the JT Minnie Maude Charitable Trust helped the Science Center nearly achieve its interior enhancement campaign goal, enabling the organization to start work this year. While interior renovations take place, the Danville Science Center Foundation will be working to raise an additional $1 million from individuals and businesses to achieve the overall campaign goal, thus enabling the Science Center to implement the full master plan adopted in 2017.
The Science Center is open Tuesday through Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Exhibit admission is $7 with $1 discounts for guests ages 4-12 and 60+. For more information about the Science Center, visit dsc.smv.org or call 434.791.5160.
About Danville Science Center
The Danville Science Center is the Dan River Region’s educational and cultural anchor, inspiring nearly 49,000 guests each year. Located in the Danville Passenger Rail Station since 1995, and expanding into the Southern Railway building in 2005, the Science Center offers curious guests the chance to explore STEM concepts and skills with interactive exhibits, hands-on activities, live demonstrations, touring exhibitions, breathtaking presentations in the Digital Dome Theater and special events. Adventurers, investigators, and explorers of all ages can stimulate their interests, get inspired and connect to the world around them. Learn more at dsc.smv.org.