When the new Discovery World on Market children’s museum officially opens on April 2, 2023, in Parkersburg, WV, nearly 600 students in central Ohio can consider themselves part of the team of “makers” who helped bring the Mid-Ohio Valley’s only children’s museum to life.
Roto, an experience design firm based in Columbus, OH, led the design and fabrication of the new children’s museum’s 10,000 sq. ft. of exhibit space. As part of their development process, students from 17 school groups including classes from Dublin City Schools, Metro High School, London City Schools, and United Schools Network participated in evaluation sessions at Roto to test experiences including a 19 ft. tall “Ball Factory,” two 200-gallon capacity water tables, multiple makerspace activities, and an Ohio River-themed gallery that includes an interactive digital exhibit and kid-sized sternwheel boat.
“Roto’s in-house testing and evaluation program is one of the most important pieces of our project development process and one of the most unique,” said Jessie Hughes, Roto School Programs & Exhibit Evaluation Manager. “In 2022, we had nearly 1,000 students from eight different school districts participate in the evaluation program. It’s a wonderful way to develop exhibit ideas, test prototypes, and also spark student interest in STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, math) careers like design, architecture, and engineering. We have many students say they had no idea jobs, like those they see at Roto, even exist.”
Discovery World on Market, located in downtown Parkersburg, was built in a renovated Masonic Temple, originally constructed in 1915 by Columbus architect Frank L. Packard. The exhibit galleries cover three floors of the building along with administrative offices, a café. The building also includes a fourth-floor theatre that is slated to be renovated in the coming years and incorporated into the museum’s programming. The project took close to four years to complete from initial design to installation. This included a short pause due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We are very excited to host our grand opening and welcome families to this new community gathering space and resource – the first of its kind in the area,” said Wend Shriver, Discovery World on Market Executive Director. “We’re also proud to have partnered with Roto to design a space and create exhibits that are so unique to Parkersburg. Kids will have fun designing cars, building rockets, and also learning important STEAM concepts while they play.”