Museum of Discovery to Debut New Early Childhood Galleries

Museum of Discovery today announced plans to renovate its early childhood gallery and also target younger guests with another new gallery, both of which are set to open this year. The announcement marked the official kickoff of the public phase of the museum’s Reimagination Campaign, which has now reached $8.8 million of its $10.7 million fundraising goal, or 82 percent.

Museum of Discovery CEO Kelley Bass, Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott, Jr., and Centennial Bank executive Jeff Hildebrand, co-chair of the campaign, spoke during the announcement event today at the Rotary Club of Little Rock meeting at the Clinton Center just one day after the museum’s 97th anniversary.

The two new galleries will be called Small Fry Fish Camp, designed for guests 6 years and younger and their families, and Curiosity Spot, aimed at kids up to 9 but with no age requirement for entry. The exhibits for both galleries have been designed by Hands On! Studio of St. Petersburg, FL, and will be fabricated and installed by Ravenswood Studio of Lincolnwood, IL.

In announcing the two new galleries – and the achievement of 82 percent of the fundraising goal – Bass detailed a few of the exhibits that will highlight each gallery:

Small Fry Fish Camp:

Rainbow Trout Crawler

This large-scale fish sculpture will welcome young guests to the Small Fry Fish Camp and will provide a dramatic icon around and through which kids can explore.

Jump In! (0-2 years old)

This “forest floor” area will contain a low enclosing wall with a gate, as well as hanging leaf shapes made of clear, curved acrylic to create a sense of autumn leaves drifting down overhead. Inside, crawlers and toddlers will find a safe space where they can develop basic motor and thinking skills as they play with soft woodland structures, including a mushroom they can climb inside.

Fish Shack

The Gone Fishin’ Café will provide kids with opportunities to collaborate in imaginative play and teamwork to run a restaurant and serve pretend snacks to other guests. There will also be a wall-mounted weather activity that will feature animated animal reporters giving different weather and fishing reports. Guests will be able to use dials to set weather conditions. The front porch of the café will hold large and small rocking chairs for relaxation and photo opportunities.

Curiosity Spot:


Guests will immerse themselves in an illusion while exploring a 15-foot-long kaleidoscope structure.

Make a Face

Guests will create self-portraits using a mixture of their own selfies as well as different features, such as noses, ears, and hair, of their choice. When their work of art is complete, they will be able to display it on a monitor above with other portraits.

Make a Fiddle

Science and art will be beautifully paired when guests build their own fiddling using a variety of parts. Each part will lead to different fiddle sounds, allowing for discovery through trial and error. Guests will then play their fiddle using small amplifiers.

“Providing engaging experiences for our youngest guests and their families is at the heart of the Museum of Discovery’s mission,” Bass says. “Our informal environment for exploring and learning is the perfect complement to the more formal education settings kids benefit from. More than 80 percent of the children who come to the museum outside of group visits are 1-6 years old versus 7-12, and the percentage among our more than 3,000 member families is over 90.”

The museum’s Reimagination Campaign was split into three phases. Phase 1 culminated in the two-story, three-tower climber that debuted in November 2022; Phase 2 included the 70 new exhibits in the two galleries that were destroyed in the February 2021 weather-caused flood, galleries now called Science Lab (debuted November 2023) and Dynamic Earth (debuted February 2024).

“We are thrilled to move ahead with the two Phase 3 galleries, which our board of directors is committed to making happen as the museum team continues to raise the final $1.9 million to reach the Reimagination Campaign goal,” Bass says.

For more information on the Reimagination Campaign, contact Melissa Stiles, chief development officer, at 501.537.4603 or For more information about Museum of Discovery, visit