HELENA — A little over a year after ExplorationWorks in Helena shut down as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the youth science center will be re-opening in April.
The center will first hold member-only previews starting on April 3, before opening to the public on April 17. Though the center is re-opening, ExplorationWorks in the process of implementing changes ahead of their re-opening.
ExplorationWorks is starting with a limited capacity and patrons must sign up for a 90-minute time slot online before coming to enjoy the facility, which will then give employees 30 minutes to sanitize exhibits for the next group,
Though it may seem like a lot of changes in order to re-open, the aspect of simply re-opening is something ExplorationWorks’ Executive Director, Kelly Posewitz, couldn’t imagine in March of last year.
“When we first had to close, that uncertainty of when we'd be able to open and what would be able to do was a hard time for us,” said Posewitz. “But we knew right away that we had to pivot and adjust and do whatever the community needed. And so we took that time, and we transformed ourselves for the last year.”
In that time where ExplorationWorks was unable to welcome everyone in, Posewitz and her staff chose to do what they could to help provide to the community.
From providing childcare to local healthcare workers, to providing smaller in-person summer camps, and even online science events, ExplorationWorks transformed into a safe haven for many.
Now that the center is able to welcome people back in, the excitement is immeasurable.
“Words can't even begin to explain and express how excited we are to be reopening, and to have this moment here,” said Posewitz “We had a lot of dark days and dark times, trying to figure out what was next for us, and to see this light at the end of the tunnel -- and to know that we are going to be back and being able to serve the community is just really overwhelming.”
Though the community as a whole is the overall demographic ExplorationWorks caters to, there is one subsection of the community that many at ExplorationWorks are excited to see back roaming through the exhibits.
“The building’s pretty sad when it's empty. It's the kids in here that that really make this place come alive,” said Matt Jetty, Exhibits and Facilities Director for ExplorationWorks. “That's the most exciting part is having the noise and the kids in here again having fun.”
As for what people should expect to see when ExplorationWorks re-opens, Jetty says they’re making a big deal about the smallest of things.
“Our main floor exhibit will be called ‘Nano,’ and we have microscopes and it's about the science of tiny things -- the tiniest things. We'll still have a lot of the old standbys here, the Cloud Machine, and the water table, and there's a couple of new exhibits as well,” said Jetty.