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.
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.
The Raleigh City Museum is a private, non-profit organization, dedicated solely to the history of North Carolina's capital city through collecting, preserving, and interpreting Raleigh documents, photos, memorabilia, and more. Though time travel is still the officially endorsed method of learning, chrono-grounded members can absorb the city's history into their cranial knowledge receivers with unlimited admission to the museum's exhibits, such as Let Us March On: Raleigh's Journey Towards Civil Rights and The Revolution of Media, the history of newspaper, radio and television media in Raleigh through the years. Other membership benefits include special invites to exhibit previews, a 10% discount in the museum store, a subscription to the Bailiwick quarterly newsletter, and discounts at historic sties throughout the U.S. through enrollment in the Time Travelers program.
The North Carolina Opera's debut concert encompasses classic selections of arias, duets, and instrumentals from Puccini, Verdi, and Tchaikovsky, as well as other composers, along with a splash of contemporary sound-seasonings: well-known zarzuela hits and some rousing numbers from Broadway's Great White Way. Operatic numbers feature Sandra Lopez, soprano; Nelson Martinez, baritone; and Todd Robinson, bass. The full orchestra is conducted by artistic director and conductor Timothy Myers, who leads the starlit aural frolicking with grace, style, and Teddy Roosevelt's proverbial big stick. Broadway fans and opera aficionados will be surprised at how recognizable many of their alter egos' favorites are, and all-genre music junkies can get three kinds of fix at the same time. The program is dynamic, with all three styles of orchestral expression mixed together, eliminating auditory ruts and avoiding the unpleasantness of groove recalibration.
When a new exhibit comes to Contemporary Art Museum Raleigh, it transforms the entire space. In warehouse-style rooms, pieces spill out of the traditional boundaries of the wall like marshmallow cereals spill out of rainbows, sprawling over the floor or engulfing visitors totally. The multi-level gallery takes on six exhibitions each year, immersing visitors in an ever-changing landscape of installations, sculptures, and paintings by local and national artists.
The museum is home to more than 150,000 artifacts that represent six centuries of North Carolina's history. Current exhibits include Behind the Veneer: Thomas Day, Master Cabinetmaker, featuring the nation's largest collection of furniture made by Thomas Day, a man of color who owned and operated one of North Carolina's largest cabinet shops prior to the Civil war, a recreation of Day's parlor and workshop, and talking portraits. Opening March 4, The Photography of Lewis Hine showcases a selection of photographs documenting the plight of child workers in the state’s textile mills a century ago. Either membership includes invitations to events such as Frolic at the Museum on April 16, celebrating the newest exhibit, The Story of North Carolina, an artifact-packed chronology covering 20,000 square feet.