By Brittany Warlick
The Nature Research Center, also known as the NRC, finally opened its downtown Raleigh doors in April, proudly showcasing its hands-on research exhibits. After thousands of people attended the 24-hour grand opening weekend, some wonder whether the exhibits were worth the tax dollars spent for its creation.
With its connection to the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, the NRC was meant to bring a unique twist on an educational space. By designing an actual research center in the heart of the additional wing, visitors can interact with meteorology exhibits, investigation labs, technology advancements, and 20,000 preserved specimens – all with free admission.
The crowd favorite of the new wing is the 70-foot-diameter globe, known as the Daily Planet Theatre, where guests can immerse themselves in a high-definition, multimedia span that introduces many different natural habitats.
“The way they incorporated technology in the new addition of the museum was exquisite,” said Mary Lou Baker of Fayetteville, who brought her 6-year-old daughter, Lily. “I had a great time and the exhibit held my attention. I would recommend all ages to attend.”
For some, though, the experience fell short of their expectations. “I had to wait in line for 30 minutes just to use the hands-on investigation lab,” said Christopher Geary of Raleigh. “I understand the museum is free, but as a hands-on exhibit, I was expecting to interact with all instead of just one lab.” Some visitors say the hours they can use the research labs are not clear, and they are often met with closed doors when they arrive.
Overall, however, despite a few flaws, many feel the center fulfills goals to not only to educate the public, but to also make the state of North Carolina proud.