Discovery Place Revels New Exhibits
Discovery Place, Charlotte’s hands-on science museum, capped off an 18-month, $31.6 million renovation, when it unveiled its highly anticipated World Alive and Fantastic Frogs exhibitions.
“We are exceptionally proud to introduce a new, reimagined and contemporary Discovery Place to the community,” said John Mackay, president and CEO. “Our new Museum is filled with intriguing experiences that capture the imagination and engage people in the wonder of science.”
The wonder and interconnectedness of the world will literally be at guests’ fingertips as they contemplate the uniqueness of organisms and creatures from across the globe. Visitors will be inspired by the richness and variety of species and ecosystems and understand their importance to the overall health of the planet.
“The health of Earth and human existence rely upon the lifeforms and ecosystems around us,” said Mackay. “The more we can spread the message about the importance of biodiversity, the more we help our planet flourish and remain robust.”
In World Alive, visitors trek through a rustic and natural rainforest habitat from a “swinging bridge” which overlooks a tropical landscape brimming with life including live species of lizards, birds, frogs, stingrays and palms. Notable new residents to the rainforest include the crested wood partridge, freshwater stingray, Madagascar giant day gecko, red-faced parrot finch and Jambu Fruit-dove.
In the exhibition’s aquatic habitats, fifteen tanks of various sizes make up 24,000 gallons of seawater. Guests are introduced to global underwater ecological communities including a live Indo-Pacific coral reef with chocolate clownfish, sea apples, mandarinfish and many other species, as well as a seafloor reef rubble habitat featuring white-spotted bamboo sharks, zebra sharks, blue-spotted stingrays and other benthic creatures. A special North Carolina saltmarsh environment illuminates creatures native to the state’s coast such as the oyster toadfish, striped burrfish, and brown sea cucumber. As visitors progress further through the aquatic experience into the Adaptation Room, they encounter a menagerie of bizarre and brightly colored species of sealife including moon jellyfish, Atlantic lined seahorse and long tentacle anemone.
Cross-global ecosystems meet in World Alive’s biodiversity gallery, which features more than 300 mesmerizing photographs of life from different regions, cultures and ecosystems. At the center is a large fiber-optic globe highlighting biomes from around the world. Each biome is accompanied by original compositions of music blending instrument and native sounds. By pressing corresponding buttons, guests can create a rich mix of global harmony.
Guests become scientists in Explore More Life and Explore More Collections, the final two of three new interactive learning labs that provide opportunities for hands-on, real-world experimentation and observation in dynamic learning environments. In Explore More Life visitors test ideas related to the themes of biodiversity and interdependency as well as study the connections between humans and nature, all in a setting that encourages stewardship for the environment. Explore More Collections encourages ethical and responsible collecting of items from and related to the natural world.
Also open is Fantastic Frogs, an exhibition featuring remarkable live frogs from all over the world with unique survival adaptations. Frogs have evolved to become masters of disguise as well as escape artists in order to attract mates, deceive predators and simply survive. From the bones of the hairy toad that break reflexively and shoot out from the toe pads like claws, to the color-cued unken reflex of the yellow bellied toad, to the golden poison dart frog, the world’s most poisonous frog, Fantastic Frogs emphasizes the “superpowers” that individual species of frogs have developed and honed over time. The exhibition uses a graphic novel approach throughout, incorporating spectacularly-colored wall and panel illustrations to depict how frogs live lives full of action, constantly struggling to fend off foes.
Discovery Place Summer Operating Hours are Monday – Friday 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.; Saturday 10 a.m. – 6 p.m., Sunday noon – 5 p.m. Admission to Discovery Place is $12 for adults (14-59); $10 for seniors (60 and older) and $9 for children (2-13); free for children younger than 2 and Members. Discounts are available for groups of 15 or more.
Discovery Place is located in uptown Charlotte at 301 N. Tryon Street. Convenient parking is available in the Museum’s parking deck - the Carol Grotnes Belk Complex - at the corner of Sixth and Church Streets. For more information about Discovery Place, call 704-372-6261 or visit their website.
added: June 29, 2010
updated: June 29, 2010
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