On the evening of Monday, October 10 at 7:56 p.m., the Magic City Discovery Center staff and community gathered on the North Hill to celebrate the facility’s much-anticipated building completion by switching on the lights for the first time. The Discovery Center has been in the works since the idea first came up in 2013, and this nine-year event was a monumental occasion in many ways. The cool autumn evening air mixed with the pride and joy of all in attendance made this event a truly special moment for the city of Minot.
The Discovery Center, when fully completed, will be a mix of a science museum and a children’s museum with over 150 exhibits and 12 galleries. This will be the first of its kind in the entire state of North Dakota which, until now, was the only state in the U.S. to not have a major children’s museum. This lighting ceremony merely marked the completion of the construction of the building, as there is still a lot of work to be done with the installation of the highly complex and interactive exhibits. Although many are patiently awaiting to hear when the center will be open, no official date has been given yet. Sources from the Discovery Center staff mentioned that kids and adults alike can expect to start enjoying the building sometime in early 2023, so either January or February most likely. Wendy Keller, Executive Director, did note that the staff would be moving into the building within the next two weeks, and things are moving along well.
During the pre-lighting party, this reporter caught up with the Magic City Discovery Center Kid Ambassadors. Cash (age 10), Bridget (age 8) and Jonas (age 10) are enthusiastic and well-spoken kids who were excited to discuss their roles with the center. They were chosen to represent the Discovery Center after a video audition and in-person interview. The Kid Ambassadors will help raise awareness for the center as well as get a first look into the exhibits and create interactive videos about the center to share with others. When asked what they were most excited about when the Discovery Center opens, Bridget said she could absolutely not wait for the climbing wall exhibit. Cash mentioned that he was most looking forward to the water exhibits, and Jonas said he couldn’t wait to uncover the learning aspect of physical science with all the exhibits. Bridget thoughtfully mentioned that her role as an ambassador was to “help kids learn about the Discovery Center and help them interact with learning.” Jonas added that he was here to “build enthusiasm and to get people pumped!” Cash could not stop smiling and simply stated, “It’s so awesome!” The kids talked about the North Dakota Window Exhibit and how it would offer people a look into the life of those in our glorious state.
This night marked the progression of this massive project which has been completely funded by a $6.3 million grant from the Department of Defense, large-scale donations and an overwhelming amount of local support. Now, as the winter nights get longer, base commuters and Minot residents will see the Magic City Discovery Center lights shining nightly. It will serve as a reminder of the anticipation yet to come.