Johnson City

A big anniversary for Hands On

Hands On museum

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. - Have you ever taken your kids to a museum as an educational outing? They might not have enjoyed it because you were constantly saying, "don't touch anything."

There's a museum in our region that invites the kids to come and touch everything -- it's the Hands On Museum in Johnson City. They're celebrating their 25th anniversary this year.

It's not only a great place for kids but an economic driver for downtown revitalization.

Who would have thought to put a kids' museum in the middle of downtown Johnson City in an old department store building? "The answer to that is Jan Cavin. She was an area educator and had a vision for this. She just felt like there was a need in Johnson City and in this region for a place where kids could come to do hands-on learning and interactive discovery," Hands On executive director Ginna Kennedy said.

That idea and subsequent building is now celebrating 25 years.

It's a place where kids can do what they've always wanted to do: visit a chemistry lab, see how dams in the TVA system work, look at the skeleton of car, or even run their own television studio.

After all these years, the fun and learning is beginning to reach a couple of generations. "We're starting to really see an increase in the number of people who come here with their kids and say, 'Oh I came here when I was a kid. Oh, I loved this exhibit, that was my favorite,'" Kennedy says.

The museum was one of the first things that began a revitalization of the downtown area after years of decline. "As we look into the redevelopment of downtown and the expansion we hope of hands on we're excited to play a role in that. A lot of good things are happening in downtown right now," she said.

And one of the key elements at the beginning was a place for kids to play, learn and dream.

Even after all these years it's still a success. "Last month in July we had 6,000 people come through the door. That's a lot of people and so to be here 25 years and still have that kind of attendance, that kind of interest in this museum, I think speaks well of all the people who've been involved with it over the years," Kennedy adds.

Happy 25th anniversary, Hands On.

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