The Columbus Museum is working to revamp its popular Transformations children's gallery and the Chattahoochee Legacy history gallery.
The current renovation will give newcomers a chance to learn more about the Columbus area and provide longtime residents the opportunity to remember the past.
When the museum added the new educational components in 1989, they were immediate hits with the public.
The galleries' popularity quickly soared after they were renovated in 1996.
The bulk of the work is concentrated on the textile portion of the history gallery.
Chris Land, the museum's art and artifacts handler, is putting last-minute touches on a hands-on "loom."
The loom was custom-built by Dennis Edens of North Vernon, Ind. The loom will allow four visitors to create different patterns using fabric strips that they can "weave" through the ropes.
"We are installing an interactive component that will allow our visitors to simulate the experience of creating a woven fabric," said Jessamy South, the museum's program director. "Since Columbus' mills have a long and vibrant history of producing fabrics, we wanted our visitors to be able to experience how these fabrics are created."
Rebecca Bush, the museum's curator of history, said these mills employed thousands of workers and drove Columbus' economy for 125 years. The mills produced everything from cloth, yarn, hosiery, towels, denim, linens, blankets and drapery.
The mills "gave the city its identity as a 'mill town,'" Bush said.
The textiles portion of the gallery should be completed in the next few weeks.
A new film, "Chattahoochee Legacy," replaces the 1989 film of the same name in the gallery's theater. It's created by Pope Johnson Video Productions of Columbus. The music score is composed by Columbus State University Schwob School of Music professor Fred Cohen, and performed by Schwob School students.
It can be seen every 20 minutes during the day.
In 2011, the museum began working to make the children's gallery more interactive and appealing with the addition of "Chicken George," the mascot of the museum's gallery, on informational placards. That allows people to know that an interactive component is coming up.
It could be something such as a video featuring an actor talking about what it was like in the days of living in slave houses or in Bibb City. Or in the case of the Native American area, a real-life Cherokee talking about his culture.
The new changes include the Korean War-era tent in the Fort Benning section now has better lighting and more panels for visitors to read. A video that Shaw High students made several years ago features local residents talking about what life was like on "the home front." A foot locker is filled with uniforms for children to try on. There are postcards on which visitors can write messages to soldiers. The cards are then sent to those serving in Afghanistan.
Ashley Bice, the museum's marketing and media manager, said this summer the museum's staff has been working overtime to make sure there are enough postcards for the popular feature.
the columbus museum
What: One of the oldest museums in the country, the Columbus Museum focuses on American art and regional history.
Where: 1251 Wynnton Road
Hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday-Wednesday and Friday-Saturday; 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Thursday; and 1-5 p.m. Sunday