First opened to the public in November of 2007 and modeled after similar museums such as the famous Exploratorium in San Francisco, the Exploration Works museum is an hands-on, interactive science museum located in Helena, Montana. In its first year alone, it welcomed over 41,000 new visitors eager to participate in the unique body of learning and experience it offers. The museum facility itself, in tandem with its extensive network of enrichment programs, aims to spark a lifelong interest in science and all its many branches within the community at large.
Exploration Works was originally developed by Community Works Inc. in order to create a local learning and gathering facility for the local community and out-of-town visitors alike. It was part of the "Museum Without Walls'' program that was first developed in the year 2000 and is supported by an incredible collective effort composed of countless volunteer hours, grants, private donations, and generous contributions by way of local businesses.
The subject matter and body of knowledge that Exploration Works covers is quite diverse and includes science, technology, culture, biology, humanities, and social studies. The unique interactive interface is designed to spark enthusiasm about the inner workings of science and inspire children (and adults as well) to wonder more about the world around them, ask questions, and strive to find the answers to those questions both through interactive experience and knowledge seeking.
The center of the learning experience offered by Exploration Works is the main floor area. This area usually features a new key exhibit every couple of months, the better to appeal to repeat and local visitors as well as new ones. Each exhibit includes several attractions, activities, and demonstrations that revolve around one aspect or another of the scientific world. Past exhibits have included "The Science of Invention'', "Flip It, Fold It, Figure It Out'', "Explore the Air'', and "The Science of Weather''. Each of these unique theme exhibits includes exciting and innovative elements that invite visitors to learn more about the subject at hand through hands-on experiences that include such activities as games, interactive demonstrations, and simulated experiences.
In addition to the ever-changing main floor exhibits, Exploration Works features many other elements as well. These include a gift shop that offers unique gifts to encourage a further interest in learning, a classroom section, and a permanent exhibit geared toward young children under 5 years of age and called Little Sky Country. (Little Sky Country features an extensive play facility as well as comfortable areas for adults and caregivers to visit with one another and watch their children.)
Exploration Works is also active when it comes to providing a variety of different educational programs for the youth community in the area. These include but are not limited to summer camps, after-school programs, and field trips. There are also plenty of youth drop-in programs available to interested parties, as well as interactive workshops that cater to the amusement and education of adults in addition to young people.