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Discovery Place KIDS-Rockingham

Coming Soon

Discovery Place KIDS-Rockingham will be the second Discovery Place KIDS museum and the first step in a journey of lifelong learning for children and families in the Sandhills region.

Scheduled to open in early 2013, Discovery Place KIDS-Rockingham is a children's museum that will serve children and their caregivers from throughout the Sandhills/South Central Piedmont region of North Carolina.

The new 20,000 square foot Museum will be a community-based, educational resource for children ages 0 -10 and a centerpiece of downtown Rockingham. Through rich learning experiences highlighting exploration, imagination and fun, Discovery Place KIDS will promote growth in language, cognition and mathematics while fostering curiosity and building confidence.

Based around the theme of I CAN, theme areas at Discovery Place KIDS-Rockingham will include:

  • I CAN Grow (ages 0-2): The Museum's youngest visitors and their caregivers will use their senses to explore their world in a self-contained area designed just for babies and toddlers.
  • I CAN Be Healthy (ages 2-7): An active lifestyle keeps growing bodies strong and healthy, and this theme area will celebrate the adventure and rewards of physical activity.
  • I CAN Be Anything (ages 2-7): A series of interconnected, immersive environments will invite children to step into everyday adult roles as they experiment with the work of a community. Throughout, visitors will discover the science embedded in their daily lives, from the viscosity of motor oil to the health benefits of fresh foods.
  • I CAN Wonder Why (ages 4-10): This gallery of contraptions begins with a two-story Tennis Ball Launcher, visible from the street, and provides plenty of phenomena to inspire inquiry and encourage experimentation.
  • I CAN Imagine (ages 4-10): Great ideas are inspired by the world around us. Guided by their imaginations, visitors actively engage in the processes of innovation.

Project History

Following the strong community reception for the first Discovery Place KIDS in Huntersville, NC, Discovery Place, Inc. began exploring opportunities to expand into new communities. Charlotte-based Foundation For The Carolinas engaged Discovery Place in a conversation about the needs of the Rockingham community and coordinated a research effort to determine practicality and feasibility of Rockingham as a Discovery Place KIDS location. With overwhelmingly positive results, the Foundation then linked Discovery Place to the Richmond Community Foundation and Cole Foundation who pledged $6.6 million in funds to launch a comprehensive capital campaign to build the new facility. A location for the new Museum was then identified in the old McKenzie Furniture Building on E. Washington Street.

The Richmond Community and Cole Foundations are one of three key partners in the project. Their funds are intended to provide for the long-term sustainability of the Museum and for early expenses associated with project planning and implementation. As the facility partner, the City of Rockingham is responsible for the purchase, up fit and long-term maintenance of the building. Discovery Place, Inc., the museum partner, is developing the exhibitions and educational components and will manage day-to-day operations upon opening.

With a broad-base of volunteer leadership, led by campaign co-chairs Neal Cadieu and Russell Bennett, the community is working together to raise the funds necessary to meet the goal of the comprehensive capital campaign. The campaign will provide funding for the acquisition, design and up fit of the building along with exhibition design and fabrication. In January 2012, the project reached a significant milestone when it received a $2 million challenge grant from The Leon Levine Foundation in support of the building renovation and exhibition fabrication.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a children's museum?

A children's museum is an interdisciplinary learning environment, where children learn through open ended play and experimentation about the world around them. In contrast to a "play space," Discovery Place KIDS will provide play experiences that encourage children and adults to have fun while exploring together, and will offer exhibit areas that focus on development of motor, communication and social skills while encouraging a love of learning.

How long will it take to "go through" the exhibits?

Discovery Place KIDS-Rockingham is a self-paced interactive learning and play experience based on role playing, participation and cooperation. Children and their caregivers are free to explore whatever areas interest them and to spend as much or as little time in each exhibit as they choose.

Will children benefit from visiting the facility more than once?

Multiple visits are encouraged. Free play is critically important to healthy development. Play has been proven essential to the cognitive, physical, social and emotional well-being of children. The more familiar with the facility and comfortable your child becomes the more learning can occur. Also, as your child develops and grows they will be able to experience the exhibits in new ways.

Where will the Museum be located?

Discovery Place KIDS-Rockingham will be located in the former McKenzie Furniture building at 233 E. Washington Street, Rockingham, N.C.

When will Discovery Place KIDS-Rockingham open?

The Museum is expected to open to the public in early 2013.

What ages are appropriate?

Discovery Place KIDS-Rockingham is designed for children birth through age 10 and their caregivers.

Will older children be admitted?

The activities at Discovery Place KIDS-Rockingham are specifically targeted toward childhood development - birth through age 10. Some older children will find the content stimulating; others may not. Parents and caregivers are asked to use their best judgment regarding the appropriateness of Discovery Place KIDS for their children. Families with multiple ages of children are encouraged to visit and play together.

Will adults be admitted without children?

Adults must be accompanied by a child or must arrange a visit by appointment only.

How much will it cost?

Admission will be $8 per person for all guests age 1 and older.

What will the Museum hours be?

The facility's hours of operation have not yet been set.

Will parking be available?

There is a limited amount of parking available in the lot adjacent to the Museum and additional parking available throughout downtown Rockingham.

Will Memberships be available? Will I be able to use my Discovery Place KIDS-Huntersville Membership?

Information about Memberships will be available in late 2012.

Can I drop my child off and pick him/her up later?

No. Discovery Place KIDS is a children's museum and is designed for interactive play between the caregiver and the child.

How will you ensure my child's safety?

Discovery Place KIDS will build on Discovery Place's reputation as a safe and fun environment for children. The facility will be staffed by professionals, carefully screened and trained specifically for Discovery Place KIDS, and the emergency procedures will be based on the Code Adam protocols. However, like any public place, caregivers and chaperones are required to supervise their children at all times, and are ultimately responsible for their children's safety.

Will there be school field trips?

Visits by local school groups of the appropriate age range will be encouraged and educational programming correlated to North Carolina Essential Standards will be available.

Will you offer birthday parties, summer camps or other programs?

Information about specific program offerings will be available in late 2012.

When will you be hiring?

Available positions will begin to be posted in Fall 2012. Please check the careers page for employment opportunities.

Can I volunteer?

Volunteer opportunities will be available in late Fall 2012. Information will be posted at:

How is the Museum being funded?

With the support of a volunteer Campaign Cabinet, Discovery Place is conducting a comprehensive campaign to raise the necessary funds to build and maintain the Museum. The Campaign Cabinet is led by Honorary Chairs and community leaders Russell E. Bennett and Neal Cadieu and they have enlisted a wide range of local and regional leaders to participate. The Campaign received initial gifts of $6.6 million from the Richmond Community Foundation and the Cole Foundation and recently received a $2 million challenge grant from The Leon Levine Foundation. Many other businesses, professionals, organizations and individuals from throughout the region have made donations, large and small, in support of the new Museum. The comprehensive campaign is still under way.

I'd like to make a donation. How can I help?

Thank you! All gifts, large and small, are needed to bring this community resource to the Sandhills Region. Discovery Place, Inc. is a 501(c)3 organization and therefore all gifts are fully tax-deductible as allowed by law. To make a gift, please call 704.618.4945 and a staff member will happily assist you.

Construction kicked off at a celebration on March 23