Discover what’s in store for children in Mount Clemens

By: Kristyne E. Demske | Mount Clemens - Clinton - Harrison Journal | Published December 13, 2019

 Children play at The Discovery Center, formerly known as the Macomb Children’s Hands-on Museum, in 2019.

Children play at The Discovery Center, formerly known as the Macomb Children’s Hands-on Museum, in 2019.

Photo provided by Monika Rittner


MOUNT CLEMENS — An idea sparked in 2008 will come to life in 2020 as a place for children to experience and explore science, math and other concepts in a hands-on environment.

The organization that was founded as the Macomb Children’s Hands-on Museum has recently undergone a rebranding as The Discovery Center in anticipation of a spring 2020 opening and the hiring of an executive director, Dusty Welsh.

“It’s a little more inclusive because we’re going to have programs for teens as well, and a focus on art and science,” Welsh said.

The Discovery Center has made its official home at 70 Macomb Place, the site of the former Art-O-Craft store. It will have hands-on, educational exhibits for children, including light tables, a pipe organ played with flip flops, and exhibits focused on nature, agriculture, manufacturing, aerospace and more. The two-level museum will also include attractions from traveling exhibits, with the first to be a space odyssey theme.

“One of the most important things is really the hands-on aspect, which is active learning for children,” Welsh said.

Exhibits will let children explore the human body, tinker with robotics and engineering, and learn about the Great Lakes region.

“This is important for downtown Mount Clemens,” said Monika Rittner, the board president. “It’s a good quality of life project.”

The Discovery Center is another piece to making Mount Clemens a cultural destination for Macomb County, she said.

“It will bring visitors and families to downtown in hours that you wouldn’t normally see,” she said.

Although it is primarily aimed at children ages 2-10, Welsh said that part of the rebranding as The Discovery Center was a reaction to requests from teachers for programming for children beyond those years.

“A lot of educators (wanted) education for older age groups, and we wanted it to be fun for adults as well,” Welsh said. “We’ve been working very hard on bringing the vision together.”

The Discovery Center has had its doors open for special events throughout 2019 and will host a free movie night from 4 to 8 p.m. Dec. 31 when downtown Mount Clemens hosts its New Year’s Eve celebration, which includes fireworks and a ball drop at 9 p.m. so children can participate.

Welsh said that during that event, both levels will be open and there will be face painting, refreshments and free admission to the Museum Without Walls, which is the collection of exhibits The Discovery Center has had available throughout the year.

The center is also hosting a Holiday Science Lab, by the Traveling Think Tank, for kids ages 5-10 Dec. 27 and 28 for $25.

“If parents have younger ones, they can play while the older ones are in the science lab,” Welsh said.

Rittner said they hope to change the rotating exhibits every three months, and that many of the exhibits have the opportunity for local businesses to partner with The Discovery Center.

Welsh said they have been having community town hall meetings to gauge interest and get input from parents and community leaders, and they are recruiting volunteers for when the museum opens.

“We’re out there. We’re open for business even though the actual museum facility is not,” she said.

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