The Virginia Museum of Natural History, in collaboration with the Center for Coldwaters Restoration and the City of Waynesboro, has completed a master plan for its proposed natural science interpretive facility targeted for Downtown Waynesboro. The exhibit design firm Quatrefoil and Associates out of Laurel, Maryland was contracted to assist with developing a comprehensive look at the programming and exhibit objectives of a branch facility. Community meetings and workshops with staff were held to look at needs and opportunities. Ultimately, a 17,000 square foot experience was developed.

The proposed facility can be divided into four main areas. The first is the exhibits that focus on the Shenandoah Valley and surrounding areas of Virginia. Exhibits on the biology, geology, paleontology, and archaeology of the area are proposed. One exhibit will demonstrate the change in the landscape over deep geological time. Another may involve a Native American home made from natural materials, mimicking the way the Indians once built shelter. All exhibit information will be tied to Virginia science Standards of Learning.

A laboratory area will facilitate scientific research by museum curators and university partners. One wall will be glass to allow visitors to view ongoing work. Programming may allow specific hours on specific days where visitors may interact one-on-one with scholars.

A classroom and multiuse space will provide flexibility for temporary exhibits, rental areas, and classrooms. All of these initiatives are aimed at generating increased visitorship and revenue. Temporary exhibits will include exhibits developed at the museum’s Starling Avenue facility in Martinsville. When the run of an exhibit is completed there, it can be transported to Waynesboro. Classrooms will be equipped with Distance Learning Technology allowing audiences to connect electronically with educators and researchers in Martinsville.

The final space is a children’s playscape. This will be a 2000 square foot, highly interactive area with proposed activities including a fossil dig pit, water tables, a spelunking area, and boxed kits that can be opened and explored individually or as a family.

As of June 2015, the museum is engaging in a planning period to determine financial needs and sources. This will give the VMNH Board of Trustees needed information to determine the final scope of the proposed facility, how much the museum will ultimately spend, and provide a cohesive plan for raising the funds to bring this project to fruition.

For more information about VMNH visit www.vmnh.net or come visit our Martinsville facility on 21 Starling Avenue.

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