© 2024 Public Radio East
Public Radio For Eastern North Carolina 89.3 WTEB New Bern 88.5 WZNB New Bern 91.5 WBJD Atlantic Beach 90.3 WKNS Kinston 88.5 WHYC Swan Quarter 89.9 W210CF Greenville
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

NC Science Museum in Greenville reopens in historic building downtown

Ryan Shaffer
/
PRE News & Ideas

The Greenville Branch of the North Carolina Science Museum reopened this weekend with much fanfare at its new location downtown.

Dozens of people piled inside the museum Saturday to grab a sneak peak at its new exhibits and design. The museum is still downtown, but now at the historic Cupola Building on 8th street. Emily Jarvis is the museum’s director.

“This is one of the most historic buildings in Greenville," Jarvis said. "It’s a building that many people pass by, but many of the people I’ve spoken to haven’t had the opportunity to come inside.”

Once a church, then an office space, renovations on the Cupola Building were underway for about a year, as Jarvis and her staff eagerly awaited to exit the old facility.

“You can’t ignore the awe that people had when they came in this space," she said about entering the newly renovated building. "We loved our old building, but it felt like an old tire shop that we turned into a museum. This feels like a museum.”

Ryan Shaffer
/
PRE News & Ideas

Sam Eubanks is an education coordinator. She gave PRE a tour on Friday, starting with the centerpiece – a hard-to-miss mock submersible.

Visitors can enter the hulking gray gadget into what looks like a miniature movie theater. Here, guests can role play as a scientist exploring the deep ocean.

“They get to experience why scientists would be underwater, what they’d be doing, what other jobs are connected and what other careers would be working with the scientists doing research,” Eubanks said.

The museum features new exhibits — like the mock subermersible — but it's also brought over old favorites. The Discovery Forest at the Cupola Building is a rehash of the old site’s area for toddlers. Here kids can camp, read, and crawl on giant turtles.

The room has been hand painted by museum staff to mimic a cypress swamp.

“One of my favorite parts of the Discovery Forest is this hollowed-out cypress tree," Eubanks said. "It's like a cave where kids can climb in and then parents can see them through the window.”

Also a carryover from the old site is the astronomy lab, where a new, interactive exhibit allows visitors to tour the cosmos using a gaming controller. There Deputy Director Brian Baker was putting on the finishing touches.

Ryan Shaffer
/
PRE News & Ideas

On four TV screens arranged like a grid, guests can examine many of the Solar System's plants at their own leisure.

“It’s an open world out here," Baker said. "My favorite thing about this whole model is that it’s literally a model of our whole understanding of the universe based off of data from NASA missions and telescopes. As you zoom out you can see our galaxy and our whole universe.”

The grand reopening was a success, but there is little rest for the museum’s director. Jarvis is preparing for yet another grand opening this weekend at the museum’s Contentnea Creek location in Grifton, where they're opening a visitor’s center. She said that location is where the museum chain sees most of its visitors.

"Each year, thousands and thousands of kids and teachers visit that location. Yet, we’ve never had a visitor’s center or a place where we could give people shelter from the weather and where they can still come out on a rainy day and still find something fun to do," Jarvis said.

They’re cutting the ribbon on the Contentnea Visitor's Center Saturday morning at 10 am. Jarvis says the new visitor center in Grifton and the Cupola Building in Greenville allow for her and her staff to accommodate larger audiences and more field trips. And that’s a good thing, given they’re booked each Friday through April.

Ryan Shaffer
/
PRE News & Ideas

Ryan is an Arkansas native and podcast junkie. He was first introduced to public radio during an internship with his hometown NPR station, KUAF. Ryan is a graduate of Tufts University in Somerville, Mass., where he studied political science and led the Tufts Daily, the nation’s smallest independent daily college newspaper. In his spare time, Ryan likes to embroider, attend musicals, and spend time with his fiancée.