By Nicholas Bainbridge
In February 2020, construction began on the Nido and Mariana Qubein Children’s Museum in the city of High Point. The purpose of this museum is to provide a place for children to learn and have fun with their friends. It will feature classrooms, a café, a gift shop and a wide range of exhibits to interest and educate children.
The project is separate from High Point University but is funded by some of the same donors. HPU President Dr. Nido Qubein and HPU First Lady Mariana Qubein are the lead donors for the project. Others, such as David R. Hayworth, who contributed $1 million, are also supporting the museum and its mission.
The two-story facility will cover 60,000 square feet, making it one of the largest children’s museums in the state. With the windows finished and drywall going up, bricklaying will begin soon.
Megan Ward, the executive director of the museum, has been working in collaboration with the Frank L. Blum Construction Company to achieve steady progress on the $27 million project.
“We paused for about a month when the pandemic hit, but we have been building throughout it and are on schedule to finish in the fall,” said Ward.
Argyle Design, a company that has developed exhibits for a wide range of museums, is developing many of the features. They apply their expertise from dozens of previous projects across the country.
The museum’s development team interviewed children, teachers and other
stakeholders in the area for ideas to develop different kinds of attractions in the facility.
“Children told us that they wanted adventure, like climbing activities,” Ward said. “So, we made a cityscape obstacle course and a vertical climber called the ‘Courage Climber.’”
At the request of children from the community, the cityscape will be full of jumps and feature a mock alligator for them to avoid as they traverse the course. The “Courage Climber” will be made up of a series of climbing platforms to reach the second floor of the museum.
Safety is a top priority for the museum. For the protection of children, Ward’s team researched safety measures to eliminate potential dangers. In climbing areas, there will be substantial padding. Any possible falls will be from safe heights. The “Courage Climber,” specifically, will have no fall greater than 18 inches.
Another prominent feature of the museum is “Ginormous,” where everything has been supersized.
Modeled after a child’s room, the exhibit will have chairs and other furniture towering over them. This was partly inspired by the “World’s Largest Chest of Drawers,” High Point’s famous tourist attraction that symbolizes the city’s prominent furniture market.
For inquisitive children, the Congdon Hall of Mysteries will provide puzzles and challenges similar to an escape room but with the difference that they can leave at any time.
The ambitious “Kids Point” is a condensed version of a city where children get to learn about different professions and pretend to be adults. They can play at jobs such as a store clerk, restaurant worker and furniture seller.
There are many more attractions, including a double-layer carousel, Mars Academy and more.
While not operationally connected to HPU, the museum will offer opportunities for more students to play a part in the growth of the city.
“It will be a meaningful bridge between HPU and the community,” said Ward.
She revealed that there will be opportunities for HPU students to work as interns to perform various roles in the museum. This will not be limited to education majors tutoring students in classrooms, something else that they will be considering.
When the museum finally opens at the end of 2021, Ward anticipates that it will become a centerpiece of the city. She explained that people will be allowed to use the facility for not just field trips but parties, summer camps and weddings.
People can watch the construction through a live video feed on the project’s website at qubeinchildrensmuseum.org.