Image by Lindsay Irvin

The "Earth" exhibit downstairs at Museum of Discovery.

As plans are being completed for the Museum of Discovery's grand re-opening Saturday, Jan. 14, 2012 at 9 a.m., the first travelling exhibit to roll through will be "Dinosaur Discoveries: Ancient Fossils, New Ideas."

The massive exhibit, funded by the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation and custom-built by New York's American Museum of Natural History, spans 1,500 square feet and includes seven interactive stations. Modern science has been used to learn something new about creatures that lived millions of years ago. Dinosaur Discoveries focuses on how dinosaurs lived, maneuvered, defended themselves, and how they eventually became extinct.

Dinosaur Discoveries provides a journey into the exciting world of modern paleontology. New dinosaur fossils are being discovered faster than ever before. Advanced technology allows scientists to look at these fossils in fresh ways. And researchers are gaining surprising insights into these amazing animals. New discoveries, new technology and new ideas are helping today's scientists piece together what these living, breathing dinosaurs were really like.

Ever since the first dinosaur fossil was identified almost 200 years ago, people have wondered how these fascinating animals lived, moved and behaved. At first, dinosaur hunters used only such tools as a keen eye, shovels and compasses. Today, scientists also rely on everything from computer simulation software to scanning electron microscopes.

This first mobile showcase was produced specifically for the Arkansas Discovery Network, a unique statewide museum collaborative. The Museum of Discovery serves as a hub for the innovative seven-museum network, allowing travelling exhibits and more to be premiered.

"The Museum of Discovery has many educational offerings. We're here to serve as a science resource for the whole state. We've been a favorite of families and schools for years. This new facility is truly a quality attraction for all ages," said Nan Selz, executive director of the museum.

Since closing in April 2011, the museum's current location at 500 President Clinton Avenue has been completely remodeled. Older exhibits have been replaced with nearly 90 customized, state-of-the-art, interactive science and technology showpieces in three new galleries focused on health, physical and earth sciences. With these amazing exhibits in place, the museum becomes a major resource for informal education in areas of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) for the broader Arkansas community.

Also new to the museum is its tinkering studio, the first of its kind in Arkansas. Inside the 450 square-foot workshop, visitors will get the chance to create, invent and discover. The studio will serve as a model for future tinkering labs at partnering discovery network museums.

The museum's new Explore Store will house a wide variety of inventive items that are both educational and fun that will serve as a way to continue one's museum experience, and to encourage learning and creative play.

The renovated space boasts approximately 6,000 additional square feet, primarily in the elegant front entrance and reception area. The new space has a contemporary look and feel. It, along with a new theater, conference room and multi-purpose classrooms, provides new teaching spaces and rental opportunities.

Renovation funding has been provided by the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation, a national philanthropic organization founded in 1954 by the late media entrepreneur for whom it is named.

Museum doors will open to the public Saturday, Jan. 14 at 9 a.m. Opening weekend will include Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Monday, Jan. 16. 

Admission: $10 ages 12 and older, $8 ages 1-11, Free under age 1

Moving forward, museum hours will be: 

  • Tuesday through Saturday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Sunday 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Closed on Mondays*  

*Open on Monday holidays