(RALEIGH)—New Year’s Eve kicked off with the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences reaching a new milestone. Vikas Patel of Cary, became the 1,000,000th visitor at the Museum since opening its new wing, the Nature Research Center. He brought his 22-month old fraternal twin daughters, Anya and Mila, who were all celebrated with TV lights, gifts and — appropriately for New Year’s Eve — confetti.
Patel, a dermatologist with a practice in Brier Creek, says he thought it would be nice to give his wife the day off so he brought the girls to the Museum. “We love the Museum! This is actually our second time coming this week.” He also says the girls absolutely love “Meet the Animals” and “Story Time” in the main building. Patel received a bag of gifts from the Museum, including tickets to the Museum’s current traveling exhibit, Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition , a t-shirt, coffee mug, $50 gift certificate to the Museum Store and a one-year family membership to the Museum. Following the announcement, Patel and the girls had cake inside the NRC’s Daily Planet Café.
The Museum’s 80,000-square-foot expansion opened with a grand 24-hour celebration on Friday, April 20. The buzz surrounding the NRC attracted 77,000 visitors at the close of the weekend and continues to draw visitors from not only North Carolina, but all over the world. The center, and the Museum overall, aims to bring science to the people — demystifying science and engaging people in research that affects their daily lives.
The cutting-edge science center features Investigate Labs where visitors perform the experiments; nearly 80 interactive exhibits, including WRAL Storm Central; a high-tech Naturalist Center with touch tables and a submersible that allows visitors to experience what it feels like to be 2000-feet below the ocean’s surface. Green features include LED lights from CREE, a green roof to reduce runoff, water collection in cisterns for flushing toilets and photovoltaic panels. By far, the most stunning architectural feature of the NRC is the SECU Daily Planet Theater, or “the big globe” as many have come to call it, which can connect Museum scientists to any school in the state or bring in researchers from around the globe by video link.
The NRC is the brainchild of outgoing Director, Dr. Betsy M. Bennett, who took part in the celebration and even threw a little confetti on Patel. Today also marked Bennett’s last day at the Museum. “This has been a fabulous year at the Museum and I’m so happy that people are engaged in scientific research, new scientific breakthroughs and citizen science, and I’m so glad to see the Museum reach this milestone before the end of the year!”
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