GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Four years after acquiring prime property near Highway 90 in Gulfport, the Lynn Meadows Discovery Center is ready to expand.
On Oct. 26, construction will begin on the next phase of the master plan for the children's museum. The project features unique exhibits and open play areas to draw children outside.
Jacey and Ava Hoffman of Slidell have been visiting the Lynn Meadows Discovery Center since they were babies. Soon, they'll have more reasons to keep coming back.
"I like how we learn about stuff, like we learn about our five senses," said 13-year-old Jacey.
The vision: to create a large, interactive outdoor classroom on the one-and-a-half acre property.
"All of this area will have wild flowers around the perimeter of the entire property, so it'll be beautiful," said Museum Director Cindy DeFrances. "Just like inside our museum where we have our educational exhibits inside, we'll be bringing that same type of programming outside here. So we'll have wonderful things to offer the community."
The activities include portable exhibits that feature music, weather and art stations. One area will be called "Tree Cookies", and will feature stumps that children can move around to make their own paths.
There will also be handicap-accessible sidewalks, lighting for evening events, and container gardens. Plus, nestled among a group of trees will be the "Ship Island Lookout", a three-level shoefly overlooking the Mississippi Sound.
"Just imagine that, just a great day like today to be able to spend outside doing wonderful, fun, educational opportunities. So we're excited to be able to offer that," added DeFrances.
The picturesque playground, with plenty of open green space, should be finished in about four months.
The children's museum received a $1.2 million CIAP grant from the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources to purchase the property in 2011. Leftover funds from that grant, along with a separate $200,000 DMR grant, will pay for the improvements.