Space. We’ve all dreamed of it, but few of us have ever had the opportunity to venture into the final frontier. On Saturday, June 16, the Virginia Museum of Natural History in Martinsville is set to bring us all closer to our unrealized, intergalactic dreams, when it hosts its first-ever Space Festival from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Through a partnership with NASA, the museum is offering its visitors a glimpse into space exploration, by featuring items NASA uses to study space travel, as well as objects astronauts rely on during their journey into orbit.
“Paleontology, archaeology, geology, zoology, and mammalogy are all scientific fields that the museum researches on a daily basis and fields that the museum is world-renowned for studying,” said Ryan Barber, deputy director of the museum. “Space and astronomy, however, are not fields the museum actively researches. Being able to partner with such a prestigious agency, such as NASA, allows us to venture into a new realm of science and offer visitors a high quality experience they would normally have to drive hours to find elsewhere.”
The festival, geared towards children and youth, is designed to give a broad overview of space exploration, while introducing a wide range of actual NASA objects, along with fun visuals and interactive.
“NASA is loaning a variety of exciting displays for us to put on exhibit during the festival,” said Barber. “Visitors will get to experience an inflatable moon habitat, an 8-foot inflatable replica of Orion, a wide variety of tools and items essentials to astronauts during their travel to space, and much more.”
Games, crafts and activities will also be offered throughout the festival.
“As with all the museum’s family festivals, visitors can expect a lot of hands-on activities taking place throughout the duration of the festival,” said Barber. “Of course, everything we offer during the day will have a space theme to it.”
Additionally, visitors to the Space Festival will have access to all the museum’s exhibits.
“If you have never been to the museum, or you haven’t visited in a while, festivals are a fantastic time to check-out everything VMNH has to offer,” said Barber. “Not only do you get to see the museum’s exhibits, but you have the added benefit of all the festivities that take place throughout the day without any additional cost.”
The Space Festival is one of two major festivals the museum is offering this Summer. On Friday, July 27 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturday, July 28 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., the museum is offering the incredibly popular Dino Festival.
The Dino Festival features a plethora of actual dinosaur fossils, as well as life-size, cast skeletons of highly favored dinosaurs, such as Stegosaurus, Triceratops, Acrocanthosaurus and more.
“We’re extremely excited again for this year’s Dino Festival,” said Barber. “We have some incredible displays available to visitors, and we’re introducing the Dino Maze, a humongous walk-through, indoor maze that features fossils and spectacular visuals at every right – and wrong – turn.”
Admission to each festival is $7 per adult, $5 for ages 3-18, and free for children under 3, museum members, and members of a museum or science center that participates in the ASTC Passport program.
“The ASTC Passport program is an exceptional opportunity for anyone who enjoys visiting museums,” said Barber. “If you are a member of institutions that participate in the passport program, such as the Danville Science Center, Science Museum of Western Virginia, and the Greensboro Science Center, we will honor your membership to those institutions with free admission to our museum, including our family festivals, such as Space Festival and Dino Festival.”