The Museum of Life and Science in Durham has set a date for Hideaway Woods – the massive new exhibit that will open on what was forested land in between the museum's train tracks.
Hideaway Woods, featuring a network of eight interconnected tree houses that reach up to 20 feet in the air at the highest point, will celebrate a public opening Sept. 29.
In the new permanent exhibit, visitors will be able to move between each of the hand-crafted structures with net bridges, slides and a spiral staircases. For younger visitors, there's a special area with scaled slides, bridges and a space for nature-based imaginative play.
Hideaway Woods emphasizes natural discovery and outdoor play. The exhibit also includes an accessible woodland stream, a stunning woven branch sculpture created by local artist Patrick Doughtery (who has done similar work at the N.C. Zoo) and other play zones. (There's also a changing area here. Kids are going to get messy in this one!).
"Hideaway Woods offers endless opportunities for moments of wonder and curiosity about the natural world," said Barry Van Deman, museum president and CEO in a press release. "This grand playscape immerses families in nature, inviting them to climb high into the trees, wade in a stream, explore the forest, and stretch their powers of observation. Being prepared to live in a STEM-filled world starts with becoming curious observers, and Hideaway Woods is a perfect place to acquire that skill."
The structures are designed for all ages (that means parents and adults are welcome to explore with their kids!). The permanent exhibit will be free with general museum admission, which is $14.50 for adults and $10 for kids ages 3 to 10.
The opening is part of several phases of improvements at the museum. The new Gateway Park opened earlier this year. Earth Moves also is in the plans and will focus on Earth sciences.