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Blog At the Museum

MLS Mailbag No. 4

Hello and welcome to a weekly feature on in which I take your questions about the Museum of Life and Science and answer them in mailbag form. Hopefully, the final product is insightful to some degree, and we have a little fun along the way!


When will the play space for the littles be open? And can you give us a sneak peek 👀 – sastone676 on Instagram

We’ve gotten a lot of variations on this question since starting the MLS Mailbag and I am SO EXCITED to finally be able to tell you that Play to Learn will be open to the public beginning March 21!

Play to Learn is our biggest indoor experience in years, a reinvention and reimagining of our popular early-childhood exhibit. It’s almost three times the size of the previous exhibit and features a range of interactive activities for guests ages five and younger (and their grown-ups). Play to Learn invites children to practice new skills, flex their imaginations, and engage with others, which will help develop essential social, cognitive, and critical thinking skills for their success later in life!

And, of course, the requested sneak peek …

The Gentle Zone: A safe, designated infant and toddler space for our smallest learners to explore, practice rolling, crawling, and walking, and engage with sensory activities.

It’s ok to be a baby in here! In fact, it’s encouraged!

Ball Play: This reimagining of our popular ball track experience allows for a crash course in cause and effect. Children will learn about the physical world as they bounce, roll, and drop balls in exhibits designed to explore gravity and other forces.

No biggie, just creating future physicists and world-changers.

Pattern Play: An area for children to experiment with light and shadow, exploring pattern, shape, form, color, opacity, and color mixing, while developing self-awareness through interaction with the space and seeing the impact of their changes.

“Ok, I like it Picasso.” – Me, to every child at the station

I have always wanted to know … have you ever seen a snake in the cave at Earth Moves? 🐍 – anna.chapman22 on Instagram

Our beautiful 84-acre campus shares the space with lots and lots of wildlife beyond the ones in Explore the Wild, so (pretty unsurprisingly) yes, we’ve found a variety of friends in the cave! The sandstone cave in Earth Moves offers a cool and shaded area for guests and animals alike, so snakes, raccoons, frogs, and birds have been known to make it a temporary home.

Critters usually depart the area on their own once they realize it’s a high-traffic human area, but the Animal Care Team will safely and thoughtfully relocate animals to a chiller area on campus if needed. So, should you happen to meet a new friend unexpectedly, please find a Museum staffer to help!

What was the first animal to live at the Museum? – kaitlyn__sarah_ on Instagram

So there’s this, like, typewritten document that lives at my desk that was written by a fellow named Leonard Sherwin in 1986, and it’s a 30-page historical account of our Museum. I’ve learned a ton from its yellowed pages in the three-and-a-half months I’ve been with the MLS, so I was pleased to turn to it again for this question.

Here’s the earliest reference to live animals I could find. Waaaaay back in 1947, the Museum was located on Georgia Avenue — a stone’s throw from the 18th hole of Hillandale Golf Course — and was quite a bit different from the Museum of Life and Science we know and love today. There was a “Carolina Room” that featured native minerals, wood samples, and mounted animals (something we do not have at all today), and served as the home for several live specimens as well.

From Leonard’s hand:

“A glass case containing two writhing copperheads brought one up short. Non-frightening neighbors followed: live turtles, fish, white mice, rabbits, and a talking parrot which had a large following. Each year the parrot had a birthday party, replete with birthday cake. Children brought crackers for the parrot and food or the other animals.”

Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any photos of the early live exhibits, but I am fairly confident this is the “Carolina Room” from our old home on Georgia Avenue. A bit different to what we’re used to in Carolina Wildlife, eh?

There you have it! Though it cannot be overstated that visitors should please refrain from bringing food of any kind for the animals. They are very well fed. Please see last week’s MLS Mailbag for more on that.


That’s all for now, y’all! I hope you will join me next week for more questions and more answers.

If you have a question you’d like answered or are doing a daily rewatch of each new Ted Lasso episode as they come out, you can drop us a note here.