JOHNSON CITY, TN (WJHL) – In the next year, Hands On! will go from a downtown museum geared toward children to a “Discovery Center” at the Gray Fossil Site geared toward all ages.
According to Hands On!, for the last few decades, the museum was constantly stretching its money to keep the downtown building suitable for visitors instead of investing in more exhibits and programs.
Right now Hands On! is fundraising to complete the first phase of this move.
“Right now what we’re trying to accomplish is phase 1 which is $1.5 million capital campaign goal. And that gets us into the space, gets us operating, and gets us fully relocated,” Andy Marquart, executive director for Hands On! Regional Museum said.
The first phase will move the museum into an existing space at the Gray Fossil Site that is about 12,000 square feet. That is set to happen by spring of 2018, according to the master plan.
The next phase is to build an expansion to the building at the fossil site, making a 30,000 square foot discovery center geared toward science, technology, engineering, math, and the arts. That is set to break ground in 2020.
One example laid out in the master plan- an outdoor walk that allows visitors to navigate dig sites and have an up-close experience with the fossils and scientists.
The entire project will cost $7.5 million. According to the master plan, the finished project will result in about $3 million a year going into the local economy, with over 100,000 visitors projected each year.
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