The York County Culture and Heritage MuseumsÂ are on a roll! Just a few months ago, the Museum of York County celebrated itsÂ 60th Anniversary by opening its first Naturalist Center, modeled after the Smithsonian’s Naturalist Center. And just a few weeks ago,Â the they added a new museum, the Main Street Children’s Museum.
The Museum of York County received assistance in developing the Naturalist Center from the manager of the Smithsonianâ€™s Naturalist Center, Richard Efthim.Â The center provides a unique and engaging atmosphere for inquiry-based learning. It brings students, teachers, artists and others who are interested in natural history together with collections of objects, scientific equipment, technology, books and references.Â Â The center is filled with taxidermy animals such as lions, Cape buffalo and a giraffe. In addition to a painstakingly detailed, wildlife-filled African plains recreation, visitors can touch more than 1,000 specimens such as the skulls of big cats and buffalo hooves.Â Â Â Center Curator of Natural History, Steve Fields, encourages visitors to open drawers filled withÂ fossilsÂ and other specimens and handle themÂ for closer inspection.Â Â TeachersÂ are encouragedÂ to bring their students to theÂ center to apply theirÂ lesson plans usingÂ some of the specimens from the collection.Â The Naturalist Center at the Museum of York County provides a hands-on, discovery-based approach to learning using hundreds of natural history specimens, many of which are on view to the public for the first time. Participants may enjoy self-guided discovery and educational programs and handle mounted specimens, skins, skulls, rocks, minerals, and fossils from all corners of the globe.Â Â Â
The new Main Street Children’s Museum opened to the public onÂ December 2, 2010.Â Smithsonian Affiliations’ Director, Harold Closter, was present to give remarks. The design of theÂ Main Street Children’s Museum was inspired by theÂ artworks of lateÂ local artist Vernon Grant.Â The museum serves as a center for early childhood education, with a focus on infants to age 6.Â Children are encouraged to utilize their creative and developmental skillsÂ through interactive exhibits and role-playing with audio and visual experiences.Â Some highlights of these exhibits include:Â an interactive Tree House, whereÂ children can climbÂ to new heights; a Baby Pumpkin filled with toys andÂ areasÂ of seating;Â a Dress Up Vault, where children dress up in costumes andÂ learn toÂ role-play;Â a Sailing Ship, where childrenÂ can engage in several sailing related activities;Â and lastly a Train Table withÂ wooden building blocks and train sets to engage the future engineers!
The York County Culture and Heritage Museums’ activityÂ with the Smithsonian doesn’t stop there.Â Now they are in the planning stages to build a new Records Center that will house the museumâ€™s archives and collections. Latasha Richards, collections manager, willÂ visit the Smithsonian inÂ Washington D.C. to meet with staff at the National Museum of the American Indian, Smithsonian American Art Museum and the National Portrait Gallery to learn more about space planning, organizing, andÂ moving in January 2011. Check the Affiliate blog in January for a recap of her visit.