In the midst of the hustle and bustle of the heart of Downtown Asheville resides the Asheville Museum of Science. Opened in November 2016, AMOS has become a hub for science and learning in Western North Carolina.
“We are much bigger than these four walls,” said Amanda Bryant, executive director of AMOS. “As a museum, this is our main building. But, we’re out in the community, leading and guiding science education, sparking the imagination, running summer camps and robotic intensives. In addition, we host field trips for classes to come and enjoy the museum.”
Filled with several interactive exhibits and displays, AMOS was created in the footsteps of the Colburn Earth Science Museum. Burnham Standish Colburn was a bank president who retired to Asheville in the 1920s. He collected thousands of rare and unique rocks and minerals. That entire collection lies at the core of AMOS, fully displayed in one of the museum’s showrooms.
“Our foundation is with Colburn’s vision for his collection. Once a home was found for his collection, that created the foundation for what we are today,” Bryant said. “Moving beyond geology, rocks, and minerals—which is definitely a nod to our past—we’re also exploring different things like water conservation, biodiversity, climate science, and space. We aim to spark that interest in science and technology in our children, who can use that knowledge as the basis to explore whatever it is they may be when they grow up.”
Though AMOS has been in operation just over two years, the museum is already ready to expand—in new spaces and in new partnerships.
“We’re already outgrowing this space,” Bryant said. “We want to stay downtown, and we’re looking for new spaces for the museum. We’re exploring our options to move up or partner with other organizations. Our goal is to meet the demand of educators and visitors and to be that resource for everyone who comes here.”
The museum is continually seeking ways to improve not only the exhibits offered, but also its presence in the community.
“We do a great program with robotics, where we teach coding. But what’s the next step to that? That’s where we’re really excited to build our strategy moving forward,” said Bryant.
Walking through the museum, you see kids in every direction. They are all immersing themselves in the interactive exhibits. Their faces light up whenever they discover something new—another piece of information they’ll forever carry with them.
“It’s kids and adults alike exploring and playing with fossils, looking at all the rocks and the river exhibits,” Bryant said. “There were dinosaurs in North Carolina. There’s been bones discovered here. Why would that be, and how is that possible? It’s about sparking that imagination and also being in our STEM lab, where you learn different aspects of chemistry.”
Bryant said she loves seeing the multi-generational families come in and spend quality time together. It’s an occurrence that’s clearly evident to any and all who find themselves at AMOS.
“You’ll see parents and grandparents here with the kids. The smart phones are put down, and they’re sitting down—learning, growing, and exploring,” Bryant said. “It’s about creating these really meaningful opportunities in a world full of distraction. This is a place where people can make those real connections.”