Learning that one of its fellow museums was facing financial distress, ScienceWorks Hands-On Museum offered its popular aviation traveling exhibit, "Take Flight," in hopes it could help boost attendance.
The exhibit opened Jan. 23 at Kid Time! Discovery Experience in downtown Medford.
Kid Time! must make up a $100,000 funding shortfall by March. When ScienceWorks Executive Director Chip Lindsey heard of the children's museum's plight, he and other ScienceWorks employees had an impromptu brainstorming session.
"We knew that Kid Time! was having some pretty serious things going on and as a staff we all got together and said what can we do? Do we take up a collection? Well, no, we're broke, too, so that won't work," Lindsey said with a laugh.
"But then it dawned on us we had this exhibit that has been on a national display and that could potentially draw more visitors into their space," he said. "We know how well it works for us, so we're excited to see what they can do with it."
Lindsey said the exhibit normally rents for $23,000 or more. ScienceWorks is providing the exhibit for free.
Kid Time! Executive Director Sunny Spicer said her museum appreciates the donation for far more than an opportunity to increase attendance.
"We're really grateful for the exhibit and what it will mean for us, but I think it's really more about the vote of confidence from them," Spicer said. "It shows us that we're all in this together when it comes to serving kids in the valley."
Spicer said her organization's funding woes stem from steeper competition for a dwindling number of grant opportunities.
Lindsey said the exhibit would be on loan to Kid Time! until another venue wishes to rent it.
"We're dedicated to supporting centers for learning, fun and families whenever and wherever we can," he said. " 'Take Flight' is fun and engaging, and has always been a draw wherever it has been exhibited."
"We prefer not to have it sit in storage if we can help it. We look at it like this: It's like a library book. It's nice that it's there and available, but it really isn't helping anybody if it's not being used. We genuinely want these experiences to be out there helping people think differently and grow and learn."
A flight-focused weekend will be offered at ScienceWorks today and Sunday at 1500 E. Main St., Ashland.
For more information about the Take Flight exhibit and ScienceWorks, visit online at www.scienceworksmuseum.org.
For information on "Take Flight" at Kid Time! visit www.kid-time.org.
Buffy Pollock is a freelance writer living in Medford. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.