Museum of Discovery

Just a block from the river and walking distance to the heart of downtown Little Rock, the Museum of Discovery is a unique and fascinating attraction. The museum is a member of the Arkansas Discovery Network, which is a partnership of other museums and science centers that serve underserved and rural areas of the state.

The mission of this network is to increase inquiry learning, which is a process of encouraging learning through posing questions or problems, rather than just passing knowledge. Inquiry learning increases children’s involvement in the learning processes and can lead to improved comprehension. The Discovery Museum is a jumping off point for this learning process, working to provide accesses to this experiential education to all. Photo: Photo: Museum of Discovery

»History

History


Originally established as the Museum of Natural History and Antiquities in 1927, the Discovery Museum is the oldest museum in Little Rock. It was given to the City of Little Rock as a Christmas present in 1929, and moved around the City, from City hall to MacArthur Park over the subsequent decades. Throughout the twentieth century, the Museum acquired roughly 14,000 artifacts, animals and insects.

It was accredited by the American Association of Museums in 1993, again in 2001, and became an affiliate of the Smithsonian in 2003. Moving to its current site in 1998 spanning 40,000 square feet, a 2011 renovation added a new entrance and interactive exhibits. The mission of the Museum of Discovery is to “ignite a passion for science, technology and math in a dynamic, interactive environment.”

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»Permanent Exhibits

Permanent Exhibits


The museum features a wide range of permanent exhibits to educate, entertain and spur the imagination. Striving to give each visitor a one of a kind experience, the exhibits are interactive inviting visitors of all ages to look further, dig deeper and explore. These innovative and imaginative exhibits have drawn incredible attention, from setting world records to TV appearances from the Museum’s Science Experts.

Amazing You!

The Amazing You! Exhibit, presented by Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield, is an adventure exploring a topic pretty close to home: the human body. This exhibit opens the mind with questions about the body, how it works, how the mind works, and how to take care of it all. From the impact of healthy choices on the body, to the energy it take to do what kids do every day, this illuminating exhibition will leave visitors with a little greater self-awareness.

AETN Public Media Center

This relaxing space is replete with everything needed to answer any remaining questions sparked from the Museum’s exhibits. Guests can watch videos, explore the internet and relax in a comfortable environment. A partnership with AETN Public Television, this feature compliments the other exhibits and promotes continued science learning.

Discovery Hall

Expansive and impressive, Discovery Hall dives into some very deep questions. From what is energy to how many really is a million, this exhibit creates questions and guides answers. Using Math as the instrument for exploration, visitors examine quantity, shape, pattern, energy, and force.

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Earth Journeys

Earth Journeys take adventurers on a trip through Arkansas, discovering its specific geographic features and weather patterns over a huge map. In Tornado Alley Theater, visitors actually experience the sound and sight of a recreated miniature tornado, learning more about this extreme weather event common to Arkansas. The experience becomes even more real, complimented by voices of tornado survivors telling their stories.

In addition to the geographic and meteorological activities at Earth Journeys, there are animal exhibits as well. With more than 65 creates that crawl, fly, slither, hop and hiss, the Discovery Museums practically has a miniature zoo within it walls. Animals in this exhibit include geckos, rabbits, hedgehogs, tarantulas, bearded dragons and many more.

Great Hall

Covering 6,000 square feet of space, the Great Hall lives up to its name. Featuring a massive Helix Wave sculpture by distinguished artist Reuben Margonlin, the space is as impressive as it is large. Comfortable seating and smaller exhibits make this area a great place to sit down and take in all the learning from the day. Access to the gift shop is nearby, enabling visitors to take a bit of the Discovery learning process with them. Photo:

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»Room to Grow

Room to Grow


With a dragon guarding a castle entrance, the Room to Grow captures the imagination from the start. Specifically targeted to children age six and under, this space focuses on the specific educational needs of the younger adventurers. With creative and interactive exhibits for parents to work on with their children, this room is a memorable experience for the whole family.

Tinkering Studio

Learning at the Discovery Museum is not just about the exhibits presented by the organization, but also about what each visitor does and creates while there. This is where the Tinkering Studio comes in. Hands on building, creating, forming and fashioning activities spur imagination and improvisation. Wild and crazy ideas are nurtured to grow in this unique environment.

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Tesla Coil

A visit to the Discovery Museum would not be complete without experiencing the World Record Musical Bi-Polar Tesla Coil. Having debuted in July 2015, the coil has been featured in the Guinness Book of World Records. Named for inventor Nikola Tesla, the coil creates high-voltage electricity at a high frequency, making the phenomenon visible to the audience. Producing 200,000 volts of electricity, the device was built by Goodchild Engineering and donated to the Museum. The Tesla Coil is experienced in its own theater, and is a small additional charge.

Feature Exhibits

In addition to the robust collection of permanent exhibitions, the Museum of Discovery also presents featured and temporary exhibits throughout the year. Lasting a few months each, these special presentations focus around a specific theme. Past features have included Imaginate, a multi-interactive experience designed to foster innovation, How People Make Things, a story of manufacturing and technology, andBuilding Buddies, an interactive village exhibit for children six and under. As these exhibits change periodically, guests are recommended to check the website prior to their visit.

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»Programs and Education

Programs and Education


The Museum of Discovery displays an ongoing commitment to learning and education, offering programs, camps, and resources to accomplish this goal. The annual program guide provides a comprehensive overview of the yearly programs on offer, and include such intriguing activities as Lego® Robotics, theater shows, science labs, amusement park engineering, and many more. Overnight Experiences, known as Camp Ins are also available, giving guests the opportunity to wake up with wonder at the Museum. Family STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) night provide more engaging classes to enjoy. Held after hours, these include all the exhibits of the museum, with additional demonstrations and special programming for families.

Other ongoing programs include a summer camp series, targeting children aged four to thirteen. Each week long camp provides an interactive experience, focused on one of a variety of topics, from Wiggle Worms Lil’ Chemists to Science Sampler. The fun is not just for kids, however, with the Summer Science institute providing STEM workshops for science enthusiasts of all ages. In addition, the Museum also brings science out to the community, with a variety of outreach initiatives that can be delivered in any classroom or auditorium.

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Events

Outside of the programming, camps and classes, the Museum of Discovery also hosts a wide array of events. These include such topics as Discovering Excellence in Arkansas, which brings together STEM professionals to interact with students and engage in activities. Periodic Saturday Discoveries are workshops for children designed to cultivate a love of science. Wiggle Worms, also held weekly, is a popular program for the six and under group to engage in interactive, hands-on experiments and activities. Science After Dark, a monthly event just for adults, is a themed night of activity and fun in a unique setting. At the Girls in STEM events, held annually over two weeks, the Museum invites young women from age eleven to fourteen to meet women in the sciences and engage in science, technology, engineering and math activities. Other annual events include Tinkerfest, a day devoted to the art of creation and innovation through building and engineering, and Spark! The Museum’s annual gala fundraising event. Photo:

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»Plan Your Visit

Plan Your Visit

To make the most of a visit to the Museum of Discovery, visitors are encouraged to visit the Museum’s Youtube Channel to see what they have been working on. The Latest News, available on the website, also provides updates about what is going on at the Museum, including events and feature exhibit schedules. The Museum is conveniently located in the downtown area of Little Rock, with free parking a short walk from the entrance.

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To keep the fun going after you have departed, visit the Museum of Discovery website to submit a question to the Mad Scientist. Ask anything science related on their easy to navigate form. Such past questions have included queries on the evidence of other solar systems in other galaxies and what is a white whole? This fun website feature encourages visitors to continue their journey of inquiry learning long after they have returned home.

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500 President Clinton Ave #150, Little Rock, AR 72201, website, Phone: 501-396-7050

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Museum of Discovery in Little Rock, Arkansas