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Museum opens new look at science

Posted April 19, 2012
Updated April 20, 2012

Animal specimens are lined up inside the Nature Research Center at the NC Museum of Natural Sciences.
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— Hundreds of people were working behind the scenes as the clock ticked Friday to the grand opening of the new wing at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. The Nature Research Center will be an interactive, immersive experience for the Citizen Scientist, employing high-tech to bring scientific research to the level of the average person.

Betsy Bennett, N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences director Nature Research Center is dream come true for museum director

A 24-hour celebration, starting at 5 p.m. Friday, will christen the four-story, 80,000-square-foot center, which features more than 100 interactive exhibits on everything from weather to undersea exploration to DNA testing.

"It's been crazy for a couple weeks, but good crazy," Meg Lowman, director of the new wing, said as workers scurried about installing door locks, polishing counters and laying out food in the Daily Planet Café.

Ninety percent of the eatery's menu comes from North Carolina ingredients. The café, which will serve eight North Carolina draft beers and North Carolina wines on tap, also obtained its liquor license on Thursday.

"We're trying to get in with the green approach to the museum," said Dean Ogan, the owner of Rocky Top Hospitality, which operates the café. "We're not going to produce any bottles, no corks, no waste."

Museum staffers also helped the creatures that will be part of the Nature Research Center settle in to their new home.

"As long as noise is low, he'll be OK," education specialist Peyton Hale said of a snake. "They don't do well with a lot of vibrations, and I think he'll be ready for it."

The exterior of the new wing features a 70-foot-diameter globe – the SECU Daily Planet – and a representative of the Cincinnati company that made it said it was the firm's largest project ever.

Lowman encouraged visitors to explore the entire Nature Research Center.

"Everything will be open, including the green roof, so don't miss going up to the top," she said. "That's really awesome. There will be telescopes out there and lots to see from top to bottom."

While the grand opening event doesn't technically begin inside the museum until 5 p.m. Friday, festivities outside will get started an hour earlier with music from the Shaw University Jazz Band. At 4:30 p.m., dancers from the African-American Dance Ensemble will be among those participating in a procession from the Governor's Mansion. 

Actor Ira David Wood III and Chuck Davis, founder of the African-American Dance Ensemble, will officiate the opening ceremony at 5 p.m.

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  • geosol Apr 20, 2012

    Ignore the right wingers and have fun! Bring the kids, please!

  • unc70 Apr 20, 2012

    Disgusted,

    The local ABC boards are still a division of NC state government. That is technically true for all local government entities in NC: counties, school boards, cities and towns, community colleges, public universities, special commissions and authorities.

    The sale of alcohol is also allowed is other State museums. You can have wine with dinner tonight at the Iris restaurant in the NC Museum of Art.

  • affirmativediversity Apr 20, 2012

    How much did we pay for the geographically inaccurate globe?

  • SpaceCowboy Apr 20, 2012

    "....at the NC Museuam of Natural Sciences".... Museum. (sigh) I miss life before spellcheckers.

  • tao90 Apr 20, 2012

    I'm excited for the new exhibits to open. The best part is that it's free! ^_^

  • nonPC Apr 20, 2012

    OK my confusion was that the globe in the picture is not finished...that makes much more sense...

  • nonPC Apr 20, 2012

    what is the reason for geographically wrong globe? Why didnt they make it accurate with all the continents not just NA and unscaled africa? - I Carry even in Cary

    Lisa Sorg from Indyweek.com had a good piece on April 11 about the accuracy of the globe and mercator projection vs. spherical representation, as the Nature Research Center's Daily Planet is more accurate than what we're used to studying.
    Platinum

    awesome I will look that up...may be interesting..

  • disgusted2010 Apr 20, 2012

    "Have you ever seen those stores with the big "ABC" sign out"
    front?
    "Now selling alcohol? The state has always sold alcohol, genius. They are called ABC stores."

    Yes, I have. They are operated by LOCAL ABC Boards, not the state. And to counter those that will say that the ABC Commission sells alcohol at wholesale to the ABC Boards, they do not. The alcohol is sold by the distillers to the local boards and the ABC Commission only acts as a conduit to more carefully regulate alcohol sales.

    1) They are not state owned or state operated (perhaps those who have made disparaging comments should take a civics class)
    2) ABC stores do not sell on premise alcohol
    3) The state has no business being in the alcohol business
    4) Its a sad commentary on our country if a person cannot go the the museum without having a drink.
    5) Because Nevada does it does not make it right.

  • Platinum Apr 20, 2012

    what is the reason for geographically wrong globe? Why didnt they make it accurate with all the continents not just NA and unscaled africa? - I Carry even in Cary

    Lisa Sorg from Indyweek.com had a good piece on April 11 about the accuracy of the globe and mercator projection vs. spherical representation, as the Nature Research Center's Daily Planet is more accurate than what we're used to studying.

  • Fireflies Rock Apr 20, 2012

    Nice to see a new resource for people to enjoy & learn from. This looks beautiful to me.

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