The Museum of Life and Science in Durham has unveiled a big makeover of its popular farmyard exhibit and added four new and really cute residents to the fold.
The farmyard, which sits between the museum's playground and butterfly house, is now home to four alpacas. But long-time visitors also will notice some other changes to the actual space, which also includes donkeys, goats, rabbits, pigs, a Jersey steer, ducks and turkey. As I walked through for the first time the other day, the new farmyard feels a lot more spacious than the old one.
The buildings, once painted a drab taupe color, are now bright red and have metal roofs. There's more room for the donkeys and goats to roam. You'll also find more room for visitors to view the animals and to take a break on new benches scattered around the area. There's even a small animal trailer, used to transport the animals as needed, that visitors can now walk inside. I'm sure young kids will love exploring the space. Destination: The farmyard at the Museum of Life and Science
"We've taken advantage of the real estate we're fortunate enough to have," said Michele Kloda, an exhibit developer at the museum.
The changes come after a survey that asked museum visitors about the farmyard. Kloda said the survey turned up some good feedback that helped museum staff make plans for the update.
"We're committed to [the farmyard], but that feedback was one of the catalysts to say let's try something new," she said.
Also part of the changes will be more programs focused on the animals and how they are cared for, bringing the science of the farmyard to the visitors, Kloda said. There is now a small exhibit where visitors can check out the tools used in the farmyard and watch a short video about animal care. The first one is on the mobile veterinarian who works with the animals.
Of course, the new stars of the farmyard are the four alpacas, which come from Our Ancestral Farm in Durham. They are Emily and Ray, baby alpacas, and their moms Equinox and Retro. Alpacas are raised for their wool.
While it all adds up to a great new farmyard, Kloda tells me there's more to come over the next six months ... perhaps even some more new animals. So stay tuned!
For a closer look at the farmyard, watch my video interview with the museum's Taneka Bennett and check the Museum of Life and Science's website.
Admission to the farmyard is free with admission to the museum, which is $14 for adults and $10 for kids 3 to 12.
On Oct. 27, the museum will host Woven: A Fiber Arts Celebration from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The event celebrates the alpacas' first week at the museum and will showcase local fiber artists.