Mid-America Science Museum

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Mid-America Science Museum
Established 1979
Location 500 Mid America Blvd
Hot Springs, Arkansas
Coordinates 34°30′53″N 93°06′57″W / 34.5148°N 93.1159°W / 34.5148; -93.1159Coordinates: 34°30′53″N 93°06′57″W / 34.5148°N 93.1159°W / 34.5148; -93.1159
Type Science museum
Website www.midamericamuseum.org

The Mid-America Science Museum is a science museum located in Hot Springs, Arkansas. It has more than 100 hands-on exhibits — both traveling and permanent exhibits. Many permanent exhibits were built in the early 1980s, such as a "ball machine" that hits billiard balls all around an elaborate track.

Several of Rowland Emett's "things" (kinetic sculptures) have been at the museum since it opened, including The Featherstone-Kite Openwork Basketweave Mark Two Gentleman’s Flying Machine, as well as several that appear in the film Chitty Chitty Bang Bang as inventions of that film's character Caractacus Potts.

One of the museum's permanent exhibits is the most powerful conical Tesla coil, which can produce 1,500,000 volts of electricity.[1]

Access[edit]

The museum is built on a wooded park some 6.5 miles west of downtown Hot Springs. It is located on Mid-America Boulevard, off Arkansas Highway 227.

Renovation[edit]

In November 2011 Mid-America Science Museum was awarded a $7.8 million capital grant from the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation to renovate the museum's building and exhibits. The museum had to raise a $1.6 million match before it received the foundation's grant. The museum initially hoped to begin construction by fall 2012.[2] Mid-America Science Museum re-opened beginning on March 7, 2015 and now contains 75 brand new exhibits and interactive artworks that were installed by creators from the Exploratorium's Global Studios team.[3] The museum also still contains many of its original permanent exhibits that were refurbished during the renovation process.[4]

Fundraising took longer than initially expected. A major donation by the Oaklawn Foundation in 2013 allowed the museum to meet its fundraising goal before the deadline set by the Reynolds foundation. This donation provided a state of the art digital dome theater to Mid-America Science Museum called the Oaklawn Foundation Digital Digital Dome Theater, the digital software was installed by Sky-Skan. Seating up to 50 people the Oaklawn Foundation Digital Dome has state of the art surround sound and a 180-degree screen for viewing the night sky and special programming offered by the museum to educate children and adults about the science and history of space exploration.[5]

Wittenberg, Delony, and Davidson architects designed and built the new Bob Wheeler Science Sky-walk that connects the museum to the surrounding outdoors. 32-feet high with added hands-on exhibits, the unique structure provides a one-of-a-kind outdoor experience to guests visiting Mid-America Science Museum and was sponsored by the Hot Springs Advertising and Promotions Commission.[6]

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