Friday, September 12, 2014

Begin Exploring Wilmington, North Carolina at the Cape Fear Museum

Replica of Giant Ground Sloth found during road construction.
**Disclosure: We thank Wilmington for providing us with complimentary admission in order to conduct an accurate review. No compensation was received. All opinions are 100% my own.

Historical. Beautiful. Fun. Welcoming. Curious. Artistic. Unique. This is how we found the Wilmington, North Carolina area. From the first moment of our trip, we knew that we had found a new "home" for us, a new place that we hope to visit from time to time.
We began our exploration of Wilmington at the Cape Fear Museum. Starting a trip at the local history museum provides a great way to lay a foundation for your trip and the Cape Fear Museum really delivered! The museum clearly laid out the history of Wilmington and the Cape Fear area incorporating historical events, culture, nature and more into our experience.

Time to learn!
The museum was initially founded in 1898 by the United Daughters of the Confederacy. Originally housed in one room, the museum has expanded greatly over the years and now is in a two floor building with outdoor components. While not at all overwhelming, the exhibits in the museum are very interesting and will definitely keep you learning for about 2 hours.

Hands-on learning opportunities!
The exhibits began with introducing the earliest Native American residents of the area. This section of the museum incorporates a hands-on explanation of how archaeologists make discoveries. Kids don't often get to be archaeologists, so the adventure was definitely welcome!

Putting together pottery just like an archaeologist!
Our introduction to Wilmington provided us with a taste of what we would experience later in the day. We learned that several early attempts at settling the area failed. Colonists were eventually successful in 1725. Interactive exhibits taught us about how the town grew and the importance of shipbuilding and deriving products from North Carolina pines in supporting the economy.

Shipbuilding was vital.
Wilmington's history as a port is truly intriguing with pirates, Revolutionary War action, blockade running during the Civil War, the battle at nearby Fort Fisher and more.

Amazing model of an ironclad blockade runner.

The museum took us all the way through Wilmington history to present day. The exhibits are engaging to children and adults alike. My daughter really loved seeing artifacts that her grandparents and great-grandparents used as children. Allowing children opportunities where they can relate truly helps them connect with history.

The history of play through artifacts!
The Cape Fear Museum has a couple of science exhibits that are approachable and fascinating. The Michael Jordan Discovery Gallery introduces families to the ecology of the Cape Fear area. The gallery was partially funded by the Jordan family as a way to give back to the community--Michael Jordan grew up in Wilmington! There are many hands-on experiences that really help children learn about how the ecosystems work.

What is hiding in this drawer?
We were also fortunate enough to visit while the A View from Space exhibit was available for investigation. The exhibit highlighted how space exploration helps in studying the Earth and weather. This exhibit had portions that focused on hurricanes which were very interesting.


We found the museum to be well worth the $8 per adult, $5 per child admission fees. Plus, the museum opens Tuesday-Saturday at 9AM, so it is an excellent way to start off your day. Please be aware that museum is closed Mondays September - May but is open Mondays 9AM-5PM May - September. The museum is open Sundays 1PM-5PM. We learned so much during our visit at the Cape Fear Museum and gladly would make a return visit! The perfect launching pad for a Wilmington visit!

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