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Marbles Kids Museum Rolls Into Downtown Raleigh

Posted September 29, 2007

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— Wake County has a new hot spot for kids. Marbles Kids Museum at 201 East Hargett St. in downtown Raleigh welcomed its first visitors Saturday.

The museum's opening comes after the merger of the former Exploris and Playspace museums in July.

Exploris struggled with attendance and extra space, while Playspace sometimes had to close because of too many visitors. The building often exceeded its fire code limit of 300 people.

The Marbles Kids Museum is in the 83,000-square-foot former home of Exploris.

Close to 11,000 people were estimated to have rolled into the museum on Saturday. Chris Babson took his four daughters to the free celebration, which featured kids' bands, clowns and magicians.

“I like this one because it's hands-on interactive. Most of the other ones, it's like, stand behind the rope, don't touch this, please don't touch that,” said Isabelle Babson.

Museum officials said they have a lot of interactive exhibits to inspire kids to be creative thinkers.

”This is very tactile, very imaginative, and still gives them a chance to learn and explore,” Chris Babson said.

The name of the museum wasn't revealed until Saturday. Marbles Kids Museum President Sally Edwards said "Marbles" just rolled off the tongue.

“It's all about hands-on, it's about brains, and fun and learning and the planets, it just got richer and richer,” Edwards said.

Museum organizers anticipate 200,000 visitors in the first year. That would double Exploris' annual average attendance.

Everyone who attended the grand opening got in for free. General admission prices are $5 per person.


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  • momoftwogreatkids Oct 1, 2007

    I am betting that most parents who take the time to take their children to a place like Marbles also take them to the park alot. We went to Playspace several times a month (and will probably go to Marbles as much), but also go to a park a few times a week. There are days where it is too cold, too wet, or too hot to go to the park. A place like Marbles offers toys and materials that spark the imagination. Other than the 2BEME exhibit, they did not use technology or gizmos, just basic materials, paint, dress clothes, water, cans to stack, blocks, oh and the very large very awesome pirate ship to allow children to play and learn from. Even the gift shop mainly had books and games, not gadgety, junky stuff.

  • Joshua Oct 1, 2007

    I have taken my neice and nephews to Exploris seferal times, until they finally said , "No more, this place sucks!" And they were right. Exploris was a snooze. It was not very interactive, the exhibits never changed and was outragiously over-priced for the quality (or leack there of) in the exhibits. The kids are coming in for the fair later this month and I'm excited to take them to Marbles!

  • smitty Sep 30, 2007

    Take your kids to the park, its free.

  • imyourhuckleberry Sep 30, 2007

    This sounds great, but when I think of the fall time and kids putting their hands all over everything, it makes me think this is a snot fest waiting to happen. I do love the concept though! Can't wait to take him, guess I'll have to get there quick before the fall colds start!

  • Amused Sep 30, 2007

    Exploris was THE most BORING place on Earth!

  • kphancock Sep 30, 2007

    They named it Marbles because of the marble walls inside and outside of the museum, so it actually is a suitable name.
    Also, the museum is great. I went to the grand opening and there were so many people, which is a great change for Exploris, and all of the kids seemed like they were having a lot of fun. It's not a waste, and there's nothing wrong with the name.

  • WifeMomNurse Sep 30, 2007

    Folks who are complaining must not be parents & if they are, must plop their kids in front of the TV for entertainment. I can't WAIT to take my 5yo daughter to the new museum. I never was impressed with the Exploris version - half the exhibits were non-functional & what I saw more of were aimless staff wandering around an empty museum. I am VERY glad to have my tax dollars go to this upgrading!

  • momoftwogreatkids Sep 30, 2007

    I'm surprised at the comments about tax dollars going to waste. I think that a fun, safe place for children to play and learn should be on the top of communities priority list. Me and my kids benefited so much from playspace. There were many days that it saved our sanitity by providing us a fun thing to get out of the house. I met other moms, they got to play with other kids, and play with things that we don't have at home, this is even more true at marbles. I also disagree about there being a strong base of patrons to support the musuem. I think that alot of schools will take field trips here, I know that there were alot of schools visiting Playspace. Marbles has a higher age focus and is more eduactional, so I think that it will become a regular on the field trip rotation. There are SO MANY families in this area and since Marbles is a place you can go every few weeks without being bored, I think there will be alot of repeat business and I think they will sell many memberships

  • Ilovesugar Sep 30, 2007

    This place is great!

  • caniacincary Sep 30, 2007

    The museum is great! Even with hundreds of people, there will still be room to move around unlike playspace. The Marbles is a great name. Easy for kids to remember. The logo is also very kid friendly. Exploris was boring after the first time. I used ot take kids on field trips there and I was bored out of my mind as were the children. The only fun thing there was the bridge, which is still there.