A Walk in the Park
Cape Fear Museum promotes outdoor activity with virtual programming
While the COVID-19 pandemic has forced many museums to close in the country and in the Wilmington region, Cape Fear Museum of History and Science has made sure to continue online programming to not only provide science and history learning but also to engage the community in outdoor activities.
“We have received an awesome response to many of our virtual programs and at-home learning,” says AMY THORNTON, museum education manager. “We are excited that our audience has embraced these types of programs and look forward to continued momentum. And hopefully will be able to welcome visitors back to the Museum in the near future.”
Thornton talks about the museum’s virtual “Explore the Outdoors” series, the importance of exercise and nature, and the museum’s continued programming during the pandemic.
WILMA: How did the idea to host “Explore the Outdoors” come about?
Thornton: “Many of the staff at the museum are also parents who are balancing managing school-at-home, teleworking, and everyday life, like so many other people in our community. And with all this at-home time, I know my kid has lots of screen time. The Museum Education team wanted to launch a virtual program to encourage families to find new ways to explore their backyard, neighborhood, and the parks that are now open in our community.”
WILMA: How important is it to explore the outdoors, especially during this time?
Thornton: “This is a stressful time for families. Kids are stressed, parents are stressed, and everyone needs to find their own way to decompress. For some people that may be crafting, for some it may be cooking, and for lots of people it is spending time outdoors. Especially if you have kids, finding ways to explore the natural world is an important way to stay connected to each other in a positive, active environment.”
WILMA: What are some tips for people wanting to explore the outdoors?
Thornton: “The most important tip I can offer for people is to not overthink their time outside! You don’t have to know the name of every tree, bird, or flower. You don’t have to be an expert in our ecosystem. You don’t have to plan a 3-mile hike. Just get outside and explore – in your backyard, the streets in your neighborhood or whatever park is closest to where you live. When you discover something you want to know more about, look it up online with your kid – it can turn in to a great learning opportunity. And if all you do is take a walk together and get some fresh air, that is a great way to unwind during this stressful time.”
WILMA: What kind of programming has Cape Fear Museum continued to provide during COVID-19?
Thornton: “The museum has set up a variety of virtual learning and at-home activities to provide programming to our audiences. Some of these programs include Jorey’s Stories on Wednesday mornings (active storytime for pre-K audiences), Virtual Little Explorers on Friday mornings (activities, songs and more for pre-K audiences), Engineering Challenges and Space & Astronomy games, stories and projects (for older kids and families), Create an Exhibit at Home (tutorials on how to create a museum in your own home), Highlighting History video series with our historian, and more! For a complete list of Museum From Home and Virtual Learning, visit our website.”
WILMA: Can you talk about the Museum Park and how it has been utilized lately?
Thornton: “The Museum Park is an extension of the museum and features a park-like landscape and interactive exhibits to introduce visitors to some of the ways that people have interacted with the region’s land and water resources. The park is open and provides visitors a chance to explore and enjoy nature.”
WILMA: How is the initiative to collect artifacts to document the current pandemic going?
Thornton: “This initiative is going very well and we have had many people throughout the community reach out to discuss donations now and in the future. We are seeking objects, photographs and documents that show the numerous aspects of the pandemic and its effects on the lives of people in the Lower Cape Fear. As the pandemic is currently ongoing, this project will continue for some time as we expect some donations not to be available for many more months. For more information about what and how to donate, go here.”
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