Museum makeover to make good impression
25,000 square feet. A dozen exhibits. Five senses. One building.
Lansing’s Impression 5 Science Center has been providing a dynamic center for exploration and education for the past 40 years.
Housed in a former lumber mill circa 1880, the building is currently undergoing renovations to better serve visitors.
The first phase of construction will be funded by the following foundations: Dart, the Joe D. Pentecost, Granger Foundation, Consumers Energy and AT&T. The main focus is to create a better guest experience.
Laura Zeller, Impression 5 external relations supervisor, spoke about what changes visitors will soon be seeing.
“It’s really about accessibility and creating a space that is comfortable and accessible to everyone,” Zeller said. “And also, utilizing all of the space that we have in the science center.”
The science center is already massive, but following the construction’s completion, it will be adding some 9,000 additional square feet.
The old entrance by the River Trail and Riverwalk Theatre is shifting to allow for a wheelchair accessible entrance and moving Guest Services to the main floor. Some of the newly acquired space from this phase will then allow for a new exhibit.
The new exhibit, funded by Delta Dental and named “Chew on This,” will allow students, visitors and families to explore oral health.
Given the age of the building itself, there will also be improvements to create a brighter, fresh appearance on the interiors. The somewhat dark, dingy corners of the center will now let in more natural light, thanks to a brightened stairwell.
Ongoing renovations will include an elevator and a new riverside entrance.
Despite having a huge building to its name now, Impression 5 hasn’t always been a huge mecca for science exploration and exhibits. The idea for this non-profit organization started out of the trunk of a car.
Marilynne Eichinger founded Impression 5 in 1972.
Zeller spoke about Eichinger’s role in how the museum came to be.
“She really thought that informal education was real important and lacking,” Zeller said. “So she would take her car around to all these schools and put on demonstrations.”
No matter what physical changes the center undergoes from renovations and expansions, the center will always remain true to its roots – education.
“Science can be intimidating to a lot of kids,” Zeller said. “So our job, our mission here – is to make science accessible and fun and get kids interested.”
Impression 5 is closed until Sept. 22 and is projected to reopen with normal hours and operations on Tuesday, Sept. 23.
The center is located at 200 Museum Drive, across from the Lansing Center.
For more information and renovation updates, visit https://www.impression5.org/