Rather than relying on lectures and stuffy articles, Imagination Station Science and History Museum engages visitors of all ages in the sciences with a range of dynamic exhibits and interactive programs. The museum—housed in Wilson's former federal post office and courthouse—thrills guests with rotating displays as well as 22 permanent exhibits. These hands-on galleries house animal collections, which include live specimens such as turtles and albino lizards. A range of educational programs such as field trips, themed science day camps, and science demonstrations complement these exhibits. The interactive center is also a resource for local information—a small, regional history exhibit on the third floor detail local history and culture.
The faculty of local artists at Wine and Design helps students create works of art in a social, supportive setting with lessons designed for people with no artistic experience. After uncorking bottles of wine and kegs of paint, budding artists spend two hours imitating pros stroke for stroke as they transform canvases into paintings of colorful landscapes and vibrant still lifes. Guests of any experience level are welcome and Wine and Design provides all necessary materials, including paint, brushes, and corkscrews.
Ava Gardner was studying to be a secretary at the Atlantic Christian College when 12-year-old Thomas Banks met her while playing at the school's campus in 1940. A year later, the young boy learned his friend had signed a movie contract with MGM to become a movie star. From then on, he collected newspaper clippings and memorabilia tracing her film career, from her breakout role in 1946's The Killers to her lauded work in 1953's Mogambo with Clark Gable. Tom and Ava remained friends over the years, and, at her request, he unveiled his collection—more than 50 years in the making—in 1979 in Smithfield, her birthplace and eventual resting place.
Tom amassed more than 20,000 artifacts from Ava's career and private life, which now, among other pieces, fill the 6,400-square-foot Ava Gardner Museum. Among movie posters and awards stand the silk satin cape that Ava wore in publicity shots for The Barefoot Contessa and the black dress she donned in The Great Sinner. Her personal items include china, jewelry, 40 portraits of her by Bert Pfeiffer, and the engraved watch she gave to her third husband, Frank Sinatra. In addition to its permanent collection, the museum celebrates the starlet with its annual Ava Gardner Festival, which includes screenings of her classic films and heritage tours.
Oceanic experts at North Carolina Maritime Museum share exhibits, artifacts, and artwork documenting the history and ecology of the sea near Beaufort. Your Groupon helps support the Museum Friends Group, a 501(c)3 nonprofit working to recover and display the infamous pirate Blackbeard's flagship, Queen Anne’s Revenge. The group aims to bring the remaining half of the shipwreck into the sunlight, preserve all the historical booty they discover, and salute the accomplishment with proud hook hands. A membership treats fans of the briny to a one-year subscription to the museum's e-newsletter, as well as invitations to members-only previews, including the Blackbeard unveiling in June, a 10% discount at the museum store, advance notice of special events, and more. Other salty exhibits include The Coastal History and Heritage display, boasting artifacts on pirates, shipwrecks, boatbuilding, the seafood industry, marine science, and the tidal properties of large grilled-cheese sandwiches.
Professional artists M. Theresa Brown and Stephen Filarsky channel more than 20 years of experience at the easel to guide students during two-hour art workshops, parties, and afterschool kids’ programs. Workshops elucidate the process of re-creating stunning artworks that depict abstract felines, rustic tobacco barns, and fractals grazing in wintry landscapes. The instructors supply all of the materials and techniques needed to craft masterworks, and encourage participants to hang their take-home paintings in high-traffic hallways. Adult students supply their own beverages at select BYOB classes, and young aesthetes expand their horizons in kids’ classes that encompass drawing, painting, sculpting, and telekinetic printing.