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“Very disappointed with "renovation"” 2 of 5 stars
Review of Science Museum of Western Virginia & Hopkins Planetarium

Science Museum of Western Virginia & Hopkins Planetarium
One Market Square SE, 4th Floor, Roanoke, VA 24011
+1 540-342-5710
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Ranked #16 of 60 things to do in Roanoke
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Owner description: Fun for the whole family, the Science Museum of Western Virginia features a tropical butterfly garden filled with butterflies from around the world; fun and interactive exhibits exploring Healthy Bodies, Healthy Earth and How It Works; live animals and the popular "FROGS"; the Living River & Touch Tank; and amazing traveling exhibits such as "TUTANKHAMUN: Wonderful Things From The Pharaoh's Tomb," running June 14-Dec. 31, 2014.
Roanoke, Virginia
2 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
“Very disappointed with "renovation"”
2 of 5 stars Reviewed January 28, 2014

The "renovation" has been going on now for the past two year. Half of the exhibits were not open. This museum used to have quite a few interesting hands-on and interesting things to do. Now, possibly 3/4 of that is gone. The weather area is still interesting, but could have had more features. There is just so much empty space between exhibits. The dinosaur exhibit consisted of one fake old animatronic dinosaur with silk trees from Michael's surrounding it. The butterfly garden is nice, but small. Is that where all of the money for the renovation went? Someone needs to do an inventory on how that money was spent. Really, really, really expected much more. Very disappointed. Not sure if I'll go back.

Visited January 2014
2 Thank Trish S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
SciMuseumWesternVa, Public Relations Manager at Science Museum of Western Virginia & Hopkins Planetarium, responded to this review, March 25, 2014
Thank you so much for your feedback. We have shared in your disappointment as the weeks and months have passed with our exhibit fabricator behind schedule in completing, delivering, and installing some of our most important exhibits. Recognizing the shortfall, we lowered ticket prices, handed out passes, and worked hard to keep the Museum lively and active through some great public programs like “Butterflies @ 5,” “Raptors LIVE,” “Touched by Dinosaurs,” and "STAR WARS & ORIGAMI YODA," while still struggling with our empty floor space.

Recently, we have made important improvements to better meet your expectations. We cleared away some partially finished exhibits and provided these creative new offerings, with new experiences well worth a return visit:

• Our new FROGS! exhibit features a dozen amazing amphibians from around the world.

• An amazing state-of-the-art exhibit called MindBall puts you into a competition where you move an actual ball to your opponent’s goal using only your mind.

• Our Journey Underground cave experience (showcasing a striking collection of fluorescent minerals) has emerged from under wraps.

• Renewed by Fire has provided a new interactive exhibit on our 5th Floor.

• The Butterfly Garden remains as gorgeous and inspiring as ever.

• And on June 14, we bring to the region “TUTANKHAMUN: Wonderful Things from the Pharaoh’s Tomb,” a first for this area.

All this is to say we hope you’ll give us another chance soon. You’ll be pleasantly surprised.
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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47 reviews from our community

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93 reviews
29 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 42 helpful votes
“Big waste of time unless you're 6”
2 of 5 stars Reviewed January 18, 2014 via mobile

My husband and I stopped by because we'd heard of a dinosaur program. We made the incorrect assumption that there must also be a dinosaur exhibit but aside from one rather cheesy dinosaur, there was nothing. A mineral and geode exhibit was OK but everything else was aimed at children and of no interest to me. There is an optional butterfly garden (more money) that we skipped. A big disappointment for us.

1 Thank Cathryne W
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level Contributor
52 reviews
14 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 14 helpful votes
“A very small but nice museum desiged for smaller children.”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed December 27, 2013 via mobile

This was located in a very nice,newly renovated building in the center of downtown. There is a very nice butterfly "zoo" as well. Many of the exhibits were not open or in repair which limited our enjoyment.

Visited December 2013
Thank Klpatric43
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Lynchburg, Virginia
Level Contributor
26 reviews
7 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 42 helpful votes
“Don't waste your $$--wait until remodel is complete!!!!”
2 of 5 stars Reviewed August 31, 2013

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.

Visited August 2013
7 Thank MamaToBoyz
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level Contributor
164 reviews
47 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 73 helpful votes
“Fun stuff!”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed August 14, 2013 via mobile

The staff was clear they are only 1/2 up and running. We still had a great time, though. My kids loved the science lab. The fellas working the lab were great with them. The butterfly garden was a big hit, too. Wear bright colors. The butterflies are attracted to them!

Visited July 2013
Thank Davijuls
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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