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Reopening of OH WOW! Children’s Center has Visitors Walking on Clouds

Mahoning Matters - May 15, 2021

Exterior image of the new entrance to the OH WOW Museum, designed by CambridgeSeven

YOUNGSTOWN — The reopening of OH WOW! The Roger & Gloria Jones Children’s Center for Science & Technology had visitors walking on clouds.

The center reopened Saturday after it closed in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead of a traditional ribbon-cutting ceremony to mark the reopening, Ralf Urbach, director of education and outreach, used liquid nitrogen and water to create a cloud that enveloped the visitors.

Those who attended the reopening got to see the changes that have been made since the center was last open.

Suzanne Barbati, the center’s president and executive director, said the biggest change was moving the entrance from West Federal Street to Central Square.

Due to the entrance change, exhibits were moved and modified to make room for new exhibits. The exhibits are created to meet the education curriculum in both Ohio and Pennsylvania.

There are three new exhibits: the Sensory Sensitive Room, the Microelectronics Lab and the House of Shine.

Barbati said the center is looking to fulfill its mission both in the building and with the community now that it is open again.

“We’re so excited that we can now experiment face-to-face and have people visit us and experiment and explore,” she said.

There are two more phases for the center to be completed, Barbati said. Phase two will reorganize the center of the museum to create another entrance, and phase three will create an outdoor science park.

CambridgeSeven of Massachusetts was hired as the architectural firm for the center due to its experience with children’s museums, especially with sound and traffic patterns. The center also worked with Murphy Contracting Company in Youngstown to complete the construction.

The overall cost for the completed center is between $4 million and $6 million.

Mary Buchenic, a volunteer at the center, said the community needs every opportunity for positive and engaging activities for people, young and old. She said every venue like this lifts everyone up in the long run, especially after the pandemic.

“It’s just exciting to walk through the doors,” Buchenic said.

Barbati said there is a larger comfort level now that people are vaccinated and health orders are being lifted.

The center is still following COVID-19 protocols and will reevaluate health orders before June 2, which is when Gov. Mike DeWine said state health orders would be lifted.

Tickets can be purchased on the website to reserve a time to visit the center.

Children gather around a plume of smoke while celebrating the OH WOW Children's Center reopening.
OH WOW! The Roger & Gloria Jones Children’s Center for Science & Technology in downtown Youngstown reopened Saturday. Instead of a traditional ribbon-cutting ceremony to mark the reopening, Ralf Urbach, director of education and outreach, used liquid nitrogen and water to create a cloud that enveloped the visitors. (Robert K. Yosay | Mahoning Matters)

 

Suzanne Barbati stands in front of the new OH WOW Children's Center entrance
“We’re so excited that we can now experiment face-to-face and have people visit us and experiment and explore,” said Suzanne Barbati, president and executive director of OH WOW! The Roger & Gloria Jones Children’s Center for Science & Technology. (Robert K. Yosay | Mahoning Matters)

 

A young girl plays with a toy kitchen in he OH WOW Children's Center
Kendal Kane, 4, of Austintown enjoys Suzi’s Kitchen at OH WOW! The Roger & Gloria Jones Children’s Center for Science & Technology. (Robert K. Yosay | Mahoning Matters)

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