Exciting changes are coming to the Children’s Museum of the Lowcountry!

Our $6.2 million dollar project will create nine interactive galleries that invite families of all backgrounds to explore environments, engage their imaginations, tinker, experiment, and create: all through the power of PLAY.

CML’s Make & Believe campaign is raising funds to bring the children and families of the Lowcountry:

Click here to learn more about Lottawatta Island

One part flowing water sculpture, one part enchanted oasis, Lottawatta Island is an immersive getaway that sparks imagination and stokes curiosity. Activated by visitor input, experiences come to life, introducing children to the quirky inhabitants and legendary lore of the island. Visitors find that, here, water connects everything and even reveals hidden surprises.

Highly themed and multisensory, Lottawatta Island inspires creativity and imagination as visitors generate their own story of the island and its inhabitants. The individual experiences in Lottawatta Island provide platforms that inspire children to imagine themselves inside a magical world of water and surprises, developing their own narrative as they move through the gallery.

Click here to support the campaign.

Click here to learn more about Earth and Beyond

Entering Earth & Beyond, visitors begin a journey that takes them from the center of the Earth to the vast outer space beyond. An immersive, themed environment, Earth & Beyond inspires curiosity about natural phenomena found on Earth, such as rainbows, crystals and the northern lights, and allows open-ended exploration of the forces behind them. It also inspires curiosity about the yet-to-be-discovered marvels that lie beyond Earth and empowers visitors to adventure out and explore them.

By encouraging exploration and discovery, Earth & Beyond builds confidence in children as they boldly venture into the unknown. Visitors engage in imaginative play in a highly themed landscape, discovering hidden surprises throughout. As visitors imagine themselves in outer space, Earth & Beyond stokes the youngest child’s curiosity while also providing several experiences rooted in scientific observation and discovery, creating a valuable supplement to formal education and local curricula.

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Click here to learn more about Speak Loud!

Speak Loud! celebrates creative self-expression in all forms. Visitors enter an experiential and experimental space that illuminates the diverse technical skills and processes required in creating a theater show. Characters and settings are brought into reality as visitors create costumes and set pieces together. A puppet maker studio allows visitors to build with materials and infuse personality into their own constructed characters. Finally, opportunities to perform stoke confidence and verbal skills as stories take flight on one of three stages. Whether developing a passion for work behind the scenes, or a role on center stage, Speak Loud provides open-ended opportunities for unique outcomes that are sure to bring the house down.

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Click here to learn more about Port Go Go Go

The Port of Charleston is constantly bustling, moving materials all over the world and fostering exchanges and connections. Everything at a port is in motion, including the people. A port works best when everyone flows and works together. Just like any other port, Port Go Go Go is an interconnected space, full of material and people on the move. Visitors work together to make the gallery “Go.” While the interactive experiences in Port Go Go Go are each standalone explorations of STEM concepts such as speed, gravity and motion, they interconnect to create a holistic experience of moving “material” from exhibit to exhibit across the gallery. This overarching visitor-driven mechanism encourages collaborative play, offering valuable social experiences and rewarding visitors with payoffs that are earned by working together.

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Click here to learn more about Farm Market

From seed to plant to truck to market, every piece of food we eat has a unique story. In Farm Market, visitors explore the journey foods make from their origins to our plates. Through imaginative play such as harvesting peaches from a friendly singing peach tree, to authentic scientific observation of growth milestones in plant roots, Farm Market offers visitors a chance to understand life sciences and cycles within the familiar context of one’s own dinner plate.

By focusing on local foods throughout, Farm Market becomes a reflection of Charleston’s unique food scene, a cultural staple of the community. Visitors are able to connect with the gallery on a personal level as they interact with and celebrate the unique flavors of Charleston.

Click here to learn more about Don’t Touch the Floor

Inspired by the classic childhood game played in living rooms and playgrounds around the globe, Don’t Touch the Floor elevates this familiar concept to a whole, new imaginative realm. Visitors must navigate a path across physical objects while avoiding contact with the floor (which transforms into a rushing river or bubbling hot lava through lighting technology). This unique play experience creates an imaginative spark which spurs storytelling and creative problem-solving, while the diverse physical challenges develop gross-motor skills, healthy risk-taking, and collaboration. The environment dramatically transforms through dynamic lighting, projection, graphic imagery, and soundscape to create a repeatable, high energy experience.

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Click here to learn more about Shape Space

In Shape Space, visitors explore making and building projects with real tools and materials. As a hands-on entry point for math and engineering concepts as well as experimentation and process-based-thinking, this FabLab guides young visitors through creative and technical problem-solving processes while providing authentic encounters with tools and technology. Experiences ranging from open-ended tinkering to pre-defined projects help visitors of all levels to build practical skills and create tangible outcomes. Shape Space includes a range of tools and workspaces to accommodate flexible use by individuals, families, and school audiences, making it a safe space for learning for the Children’s Museum of the Lowcountry’s entire audience.

Click here to support the campaign.

Click here to learn more about Enchanted Sound

Water vapor sprays from a shimmering iridescent sea monster as she protects her adorable offspring in this foggy and fantastical outdoor playscape. Visitors explore these climbable and colossal creatures, building on foundational physical skills as they navigate swooping sculptural forms using all the senses. Music and sound play an important role as visitors activate chimes, xylophones, drums, and whisper tubes integrated throughout the experience. A large-scale kinetic wind sculpture energizes the area with perpetual motion, encouraging visitors to do the same. Whether creating improvisational music or climbing a silly serpent, Enchanted Sound provides visitors with fresh opportunities to discover their own physical and creative potential.

Click here to support the campaign.

a brand new Play Pavilion:

Click here to learn more about the Play Pavilion

Newly constructed in CML’s current backyard (behind the future Entry Plaza on Ann Street), this 4,800 square-foot open-air pavilion will add 66% more exhibit space for children to play in a shaded and climate-controlled area. The pavilion will cover the Lottawatta Island and Port Go Go Go exhibits and will include lighting, fans, and safe play surfacing.

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frequently asked questions:

What is the goal of the Make & Believe capital campaign?

The goal of CML’s Make & Believe campaign is to transform the Museum with nine new state-of-the-art exhibits and a new Play Pavilion supporting healthy child development, educational opportunities and celebrating the endless potential of childhood. The new galleries will leverage the fun of playing to foster the development of curious, confident and imaginative minds, unlocking and nurturing the potential held within each visitor, and help us to offer guests play-based learning experiences that can be found nowhere else in Lowcountry.

To bring these new exhibits to life, we are raising a final $1 million dollars to complete the $6.2 million dollar campaign.

How is the Make & Believe capital campaign being funded?

The campaign is supported by a broad base of contributors, including corporations and professional firms, charitable foundations, and generous individual donors. In addition, historic tax credits and new market tax credits are being leveraged to support the project. To date, we have secured $4.6 million dollars and self-invested $550,000 toward accomplishing the project.

How did you develop the concepts and designs for new exhibits and programs?

Along with our team of exhibit designers from Roto Design Group and architects from Liollio Architecture, we solicited feedback from community members, parents and grandparents, educators, and CML staff and board. We channeled feedback about new dynamic galleries and experiences that will be distinctly and uniquely Charleston.

This feedback reflected a desire for visitors to develop the sense of capability and confidence that comes with learning a new skill, taking a risk, discovering an idea, or creating of a piece of art. The new galleries will vary in engagement style, from open-ended experimentation to creative self-expression to scientific observation, creating a sense of vitality in the Museum and maintaining the visitors’ engagement with the overall journey.

What is the timeline for construction?

Construction of the new Play Pavilion is projected to take 4 months from when we break ground.

New exhibits and experiences will be fabricated off-site and installed in the Museum as the campaign completes.

As with any building project, plans evolve – and we will keep you updated throughout this project.

What are the opportunities for naming or donor recognition?

We are honored to celebrate the donors who make this project possible. Opportunities to name the nine new exhibit galleries as well as more than 50 individual exhibit elements are available to highlight major donors and key contributors.

Our interactive donor wall, website, and annual report will celebrate all named donors, large and small, who contribute to this project.

For more information about naming opportunities, please contact Jacquie Berger, Director of Development, at jacquie@exploreCML.org or 843.278.5267.