We’ve been members of the Maryland Science Center in Baltimore for several years now. One of the best-kept secrets of membership is the reciprocal admissions offered by other institutions affiliated with the Passport Program of the Association of Science and Technology Centers.
The Roarbots love science museums, so this program has been an incredible perk of membership. We make it a point to visit as many participating museums as possible during our travels.
This is the first of an occasional series of posts highlighting some of these amazing local science centers. Find more by following the ASTC tag on this post.
On a recent trip to Williamsburg and Virginia Beach, we managed to stop at a couple ASTC institutions. First up was the Virginia Living Museum, which was a wonderful surprise.
Located in Newport News, Virginia, the Living Museum is in the heart of Southeast Virginia’s tourist center.
We decided to stop because of the temporary Dinos Live! exhibit they have this summer. This exhibit, which closes on Labor Day weekend (September 1), was smaller than expected, but it was still a big hit with both kids. Seven animatronic dinosaurs (plus a few more static statues throughout the museum) growl, roar, menace, and otherwise enchant kids. The museum has also set up a fossil dig outside where kids can dig through the sand, looking for “fossils.”
The permanent areas of the Virginia Living Museum are essentially half-zoo and half-aquarium. There are more than 250 species at the museum, both inside and out.
Inside, you’re in the aquarium. The museum is divided into several areas that represent Virginia habitats: Appalachian mountain cove, cypress swamp, piedmont, coastal plain, and underground. A majority of the animals on display here are fish and amphibians, but there are some cool surprises the little Roarbots loved—alligators, flying squirrels, and owls, to name a few.
There are also several “discovery stations” where the Rorbots were able to touch starfish and crabs, handle animal skins and bones, and use all of their senses to interact with various animals and habitats.
Outside, you’re in the zoo. A 3/4-mile boardwalk loops its way through the woods and around several animal enclosures, including red wolves, bobcats, vultures, coyotes, foxes, and a few other assorted mammals.
The museum also has a planetarium and small outdoor amphitheater (where they put on animal shows), but unfortunately we didn’t catch any shows at either.
Verdict: We may have said “This place is really nice!” more than once. OK, a lot more than once. The Virginia Living Museum was a very pleasant surprise, and we highly recommend a visit. If you’re in the area for vacation, passing through on the way to the beach, or local to the area, it’s absolutely worth a few hours to explore. The Roarbots give it four thumbs up!