The Children’s Museum of the Lowcountry (CML) has announced the final phase of a $6.2 million campaign to transform the museum with nine new state-of-the-art exhibits and a new Play Pavilion supporting healthy child development and educational opportunities.
The museum’s Make & Believe campaign will upgrade the facility with new interactive exhibits and the aforementioned Play Pavilion. The 4,800 square-foot Play Pavilion in the museum’s current backyard will add 66 percent more exhibit space for children to play.
“Charleston is a world-class city deserving of a world-class children’s museum,” Nichole Myles, executive director of the museum, said. “Our campaign will provide cutting-edge experiences in the arts and sciences designed especially with children, their caregivers and educators in mind. Bringing our unique learning-through-play philosophies to life, the re-imagined CML will engage our youngest citizens: allowing them to discover their potential, unlock their creativity and engage in learning through the power of play.”
The campaign will fund new interactive exhibits (descriptions provided by CML):
- Shape Space – In Shape Space, visitors explore making and building projects with real tools and materials. As a hands-on entry point for math and engineering concepts as well as experimentation and process-thinking, “making” guides young visitors through creative and technical problem-solving processes while providing authentic encounters with tools and technology. Children can watch constantly running 3D printers or send their own work to the printer from an adjacent desktop computer.
- Speak Loud! – Speak Loud celebrates creative self-expression in all forms. Visitors enter an experimental space that illuminates the diverse technical skills and processes required in creating a theatre show. Children can interact with all aspects of performance, including a makeup mirror, a performance stage, a puppet stage and space to create costumes and props.
- Don’t Touch the Floor – Inspired by the classic childhood game played in living rooms and on playgrounds around the world, Don’t Touch the Floor elevates this familiar concept to a whole new imaginative realm. Lighting technology transform the museum’s floor into a rushing river or bubbling hot lava while children use motor and problem-solving skills to navigate a path using padded islands, an illuminated pathway of lights, a horizontal rock wall and a forest of vertical ropes.
- Earth & Beyond – Entering Earth & Beyond, visitors begin a journey from the center of the Earth to outer space and beyond. This immersive environment inspires curiosity about natural phenomena found on Earth, such as rainbows, crystals and the northern lights, and allows open-ended exploration of the forces behind them. Children can be a meteorologist utilizing a green screen, climb inside a rocket ship, observe a simulation of the phases of the moon and experiment with the laws of physics creating and launching paper airplanes.
- Farm to Market – A refresh of this beloved exhibit will focus on the journey foods make from their origins to our plates. Children will harvest falling peaches from a musical tree to take to market, play with a child-sized food truck and fill up a basket with goods found in our local grocery stores in the Publix market.
- Port Go Go Go – Inspired by the Port of Charleston, Port Go Go Go is an interconnected space full of material and people on the move. Visitors work together to load materials onto a giant crane, which carries them overhead them dumps them onto a boat. Children will also climb into the driver’s seat of an 18-wheeler and collect a shipment of materials to be moved throughout the port.
- Lottawatta Island – This water exhibit is activated by visitor input. Visitors toss balls into an eccentric octopus perched on the main water table. A cloud overhead will rain down on children while a sculptural volcano will erupt on interaction. The many pipes and fittings will allow children to get their hands wet and discover that water connects everything and even reveals hidden surprises.
- Enchanted Sound – Music and sound play an important role as children activate chimes, xylophones, drums and whisper tubes through a shimmering sea monster in this fantastical outdoor playscape. A large overhead sculpture sways in the wind as polychromatic petals give elegant form to the wind.
The total renovation will cost $6.2 million. The first phase, $550,000 in deferred maintenance projects, was completed in March 2019. To date, the museum has secured $2.1 million in donations and $2.5 million in pending tax credits. With $1 million left to raise, the museum plans to engage the community in various ways to make this project a reality.
“The Make & Believe campaign will benefit all children in the Lowcountry,” Kaky Grant, Children’s Museum of the Lowcountry Board Chair, said. “We serve more than 190,000 children and families in our region each year, and as that number continues to grow, the community demand continues to rise. We developed this plan to effectively engage the museum’s increasing attendance and to create new exciting learning environments for all children of the Lowcountry. We hope our region will consider donating to this worthy cause."
If you are interested in donating to CML’s Make & Believe campaign, please visit exploreCML.org/make-and-believe.