During a recent visit to Richmond, I had the chance to check out the Science Museum of Virginia. With the Smithsonian only a few hours away, I was almost expecting this place to be small. From the moment I pulled up to this multi-level museum, with its floating marble globe sitting at the entrance to a giant, columned entranceway, I knew I was in for something special. Located in the heart of the Downtown Arts District, you will find it easily accessible.
My first goal when visiting a science museum is to seek out the Space exhibit, and this museum has dedicated the majority of the bottom floor to physics and space. In the open display area, I found a slice of the International Space Station, a satellite, and model views of several of the objects in orbit around our planet. By far my favorite part was the Science on the Sphere exhibit. This was the first time I was able to see and interact with one and I’ve been hooked on them ever since. If you haven’t had the chance to see one, many museums are adding it to their list, including the Space Foundation in Colorado Springs, the Grand Canyon Visitor’s Center and more. (Check out the full list here.)
Easy to find elevators took me to the second floor for the museum’s biological exhibits. The elegance is in the set up here. They first show you the human body–muscles, bones, etc.–so you can see how we are all alike. Then as you walk around the corner, they share how humans are so unique in nearly every way. From the clef on a chin to the way you cross your thumbs, they have an excellent visualization of the role genes play in making up who you are. Also, there is a piece that shows the development of a pregnancy and what the baby looks like as it grows. Other focuses here include the human brain, proper nutrition with portion control, and more. Great for kids of all ages! They don’t limit the area to just humans, though, as there is a giant wall celebrating the Tree of Life!
On the top floor, you’ll find an open area with blocks for children to construct things as well as other engineering type exhibits. I’m always excited to see these interactive experiences that engage the visitors, and this place is spot-on. There’s even a spot to fly your paper airplanes! Most excellent!
I’m always excited to find these museums that aren’t as heralded as they should be. The more I visit museums, the more I find that all of them have their own sort of magic. You’d do yourself a disservice if you didn’t visit here if you are visiting the Richmond area. Highly recommended for scientists of all ages!