Today, we went to the science museum after we heard about their big remodel. We understood that the remodel wasn't complete and we received free admission to come back when it is completed. However, I was totally unprepared for what we saw. I have grown up attending the science museums and have been going there for the past umpteen years. The last time we visited (a couple years ago), it still held a lot of hands-on activities (stations) that children could learn about light, sound, magnets, etc. Learning took place about weather, rocks and children were exposed to true science. It was very hands-on and children could "see" science through observation, discovery and experiments. So, we were really excited to come back to the museum after the remodel and see how they built on all of that!
Whenever we got there, I was just floored at what we saw. The museum is very incomplete...it'd be best to wait to go until the remodel is completed!! What is currently in operation is either not working, closed (the Open Lab), broken/torn up or boring. The science concepts that were presented there were very watered down. And there was very little information/signage about the exhibits and very little discovery to be made. You can try to talk your child through the exhibits, but some things, we just didn't know what they were trying to get at. Though some of the exhibits are larger than life (like the giant mouth), most of the exhibits were lacking in creativity and hands-on learning compared to what was in the museum pre-remodel.
However, the redeeming part is the new butterfly garden! You have to pay $4 extra per person in order to enter it and it was the only thing that was worth the price we paid to travel to Roanoke to visit the museum today. The butterfly garden was, by far the best experience we had at the museum (besides the friendly staff)! The butterflies are amazing, beautiful and peaceful! We learned so much just by observing them in their habitat! It was an amazing experience that took our breath away!
Aside from the butterfly area, there wasn't much to prompt a child to want to know more, ask questions, be "wow-ed" by science like there was pre-remodel. I understand that the remodel is not completed (I would say they are about half-way there), but there really wasn't much today that compels me to come back when the remodel is completed (even w/the free return voucher they gave us).
If you do want to visit the museum, please call ahead to see if the Open Lab is open and if the planetarium is up and running.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.