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When it comes to family activities this summer, Center in the Square is high on the list of where to visit and things to do. With five cultural arts and science non-profit organizations (those being the Harrison Museum of African American Culture; History Museum of Western Virginia; Mill Mountain Theatre; Roanoke Pinball Museum; and the Science Museum of Western Virginia), kids of all ages will be enthralled with learning more about what each space has to offer. Center welcomes more than 400,000 visitors each year with nearly 200,000 children participating in hands-on educational experiences.
It’s hard not to get lost just on the first floor, thanks to the incredible aquarium. The largest of its kind in the Mid-Atlantic region, the Center’s 8,000-gallon living coral reef is home to 250 marine fish and 150 soft and stony corals. This system grows and changes over time—and did we mention that it’s SOL-compliant for educational value? Interactive screens also provide a unique learning experience for visitors as they learn about climates, coral, and the larger ecosystem. There are also two 300-gallon aquariums that hold up to 100 moon jellyfish, and are connected by the seahorse display. Last but not least, the Turtles of Virginia aquarium feature several species of turtles that live in our lakes, creeks, and rivers.
The much-beloved butterfly garden allows visitors to walk through the habitat for an up-close experience. With live butterflies from all around the world, the garden assures you’ll enjoy the learning about their lives in a lovely setting of more than 20 species of orchids and other assorted plants.
From there, you’ll venture into the Science Museum where you can play brain games, explore giant-sized body parts, and learn about kinetic energy, amongst other fun activities. And of course there’s plenty of history to be discovered at both the History Museum of Western Virginia and the Harrison Museum of African American Culture, with photos, memorabilia, books and much more.
The Pinball Museum is the newest and perhaps most popular addition, an interactive museum dedicated to the science and history of pinball. With over 50 machines dating from the 1930s to the 1990s, players young and old will learn the history of pinball, the science behind the game, and plenty of time to appreciate the colors and designs. Admission allows attendees to play at their leisure, resulting in what’s sure to be one heck of a fun summer afternoon away from the TV!
Sometimes the learning part is even hidden within the fun, as Center in the Square is completely focused on education. Marketing Director Joseph Mackareth says they are dedicated to providing dynamic solutions to the needs of the people in the region’s community.