The Gulf Coast Exploreum “Museum of Science” first opened its doors in 1983. Within four years, the center became so popular it outgrew the original site, and it was determined that the historic downtown of Mobile, Ala., would be well suited for an expanded science center and IMAX Dome Theater.
11 years of planning and three years of construction later, the Exploreum made its home at today’s facility on Government Street, between Royal and Water Streets.
Inside, you’ll discover so much to explore – including three permanent exhibits: My BodyWorks, the most advanced health gallery in the nation, with a 12 ft. tall beating heart; Hands On Hall, an interactive look inside the basics of electricity, simple mechanics, magnetism and more; and the Wharf of Wonder, a whimsical waterfront setting featuring a sea vessel, lighthouse and fish market.
Josh Holland, Director of Marketing and Design for the Exploreum, shared his time to chat with us about the history – and bright future – of the Gulf Coast’s greatest science center.
In addition to the permanent exhibits, there are ever-rotating activities to explore, he tells us.
“The new BASF Kids’ Lab and Science Squad Headquarters houses five live reptile displays and is home to a squad of scientific super heroes, who perform exciting experiments alongside the Exploreum’s education staff,” Holland says. “Another recent addition is Scratch Factory, a 6,500 square foot exhibit that sparks curiosity and inspires playful innovation.”
Within the Scratch Factory, visitors have access to a dozen activity stations where you can design and test a parachute, construct and race paper airplanes, build a marble roller coaster, play with an oversized ‘Lite-Brite’ and much more.
Holland says there are too many things to do at the Exploreum to pick a favorite. But, when pressed …
“I love the experience of a new film on the IMAX Dome. It is only one of just a few dozen in the world and a totally different experience from a “normal” curved IMAX screen,” he admits. “In terms of exhibits, I love the giant ‘Lite-Brite.’ Our Imagination Playground (think giant foam Tinker Toys) is a favorite, too. Some of our specialty classes and camps are very cool, too. We are always planning and adding great things here. It’s a very exciting place to work!”
It’s about to get even more exciting, as the Exploreum was awarded a grant from Airbus that will allow the center to purchase 15 3D printers. They are currently working out plans to allow visitors to learn about the innovative machines and experiment with the world of 3D printing.
If you’re reluctant to leave the beach, Holland says (and we agree) it’s worth the trip.
“A lot of people have the misconception that we are just a children’s museum and we are anything but that,” he says. “One of the best things about our facility is that it is pretty much all in doors. That means that rain or shine, hot or cold, we are open and a great place to get out of the elements and have some fun while learning, too.”
It’s worth mentioning that the Exploreum is a nonprofit museum, which means it relies on support from the community and visitors. So, if you feel inspired, give back to the place that is bound to give you an experience to remember.
The Exploreum’s dedicated staff focuses on bringing science-based learning to their guests, and doing it in a way that’s tons of fun and memorable – not always an easy task, Holland tells us. (They certainly make it look easy.)
Explore more than the shore when you visit the Exploreum today. Located at 65 Government Street in Mobile, you can check out the Exploreum website before you arrive, or call (251) 208-6873 with any questions.
Have fun! (While learning!)