After giving readers a sneak peek at the new Scott Family Amazeum in Bentonville, the newest tourist attraction in Northwest Arkansas opened its doors on Wednesday (July 15).
The expansive $24 million children’s wonderland spans roughly 40,000 square feet. There are about 20,000 square feet of indoor exhibits and another 20,000 feet of exploration space outdoors. (Link here for the story and photos of the member preview held July 13.)
Talk Business & Politics’ Kerri Jackson Case caught up with Amazeum executive director Sam Dean to ask a few questions about what visitors can expect.
TB&P: What can guests expect when the doors open July 15?
Sam Dean: Because there has been so much community input and involvement in creating the Amazeum, guests will see that reflected in our exhibits. We have balanced hands-on learning with staying true to our region and its strengths. People will also feel the energy in this place. Our staff put a lot of energy into not only building the exhibits, but creating programs and even little touches that will delight our guests. We believe that our guests will find their creativity here.
TB&P: What makes the Scott Family Amazeum “amazing,” rather than just a typical children’s museum?
Dean: There are a few things that make the Scott Family Amazeum pretty unique. One of those is the amount of community input and support that has brought this project to fruition. Very few communities of our size have a resource like this. The community has nurtured this along for a decade. I’m not sure that a project like this could happen anywhere else, just because of the amount of community support. We are also this interesting hybrid between a children’s museum and a science center. We encourage play through learning and interacting.
TB&P: Who do you anticipate will be your guests?
Dean: Our first member preview day, we had guests who were just a few days old all the way to great-grandparents. We have areas for our emerging explorers under 2 years old. The majority of our programming focuses on children ages 4 through 12. However, we also know that we’ll have adult-only events and that we’ll host corporate meetings in the future. I’m going to say our guests will be the young and the young-at-heart.
TB&P: What will be the biggest surprise or delight for guests? What’s your favorite part?
Dean: It would be impossible to name a favorite, but I am especially gratified when our team witnesses multi-generational play and learning. When children witness their adults learning alongside of them, it is very powerful. It sticks with them.
We welcomed members in the museum for the first time recently. And I think every one of those people would answer this question in a different way. Each person can make his or her own way through the building – and our outdoor space when it opens – and find their own favorite. And those favorite spots will grow and change for each person over time.
Coming to the Scott Family Amazeum is a very personal experience. What any person will find here is based on his or her own perspective, but also can influence his or her future. And that’s really the exciting part.