A Space for Exploration

Written by: 
Madeline Greene
Anyah Martinez
Anyah Martinez ('99, '04 M.S.) (Photo by Michael Clements)

Inside Explorium Denton Children's Museum sits a life-sized Operation game, an interactive play place and a workspace that offers engaging weekly projects such as creating wooden ornaments at Christmastime. It's all to ensure no one is bored when they walk into the museum, a dedicated space for children opened by Anyah Martinez ('99, '04 M.S.) in 2018.

A human development and family studies graduate, Martinez and her team first began Explorium in 2012 as a mobile learning center that traveled to events like the Denton Community Market. As a mother, she wanted to increase the family-friendly educational activities offered in Denton.

"There's plenty of outdoor space in Denton," she says, "and our libraries and parks are wonderful. But there weren't a lot of opportunities for getting hands-on learning through play."

Martinez, executive director of Explorium, had no previous experience running a museum, but she says the learning process for her and her eight staff members has been worth it to bring active-learning opportunities to area children.

"We're all learning together," she says, "so that's very rewarding."

Though the physical museum space -- located at 5800 I-35 North -- has only been open for a short time, there's already a need to expand. Part of the popularity is driven by activities like those offered in the creative workspace, which change weekly and are typically based around a theme, such as nature.

"Some things we do here are craftier, and some are a lot more technical," Martinez says. "So sometimes, we'll have snap circuits or robots. Sometimes it's painting -- but it's always working with your hands."

At Explorium, parents are encouraged to interact with their children, and family memberships are available. The museum also partners with schools in Denton ISD to offer summer educational camps.

"Every day, I see proof that this was a need in our community," Martinez says. "Whether it's children who don't want to leave or parents thanking us on their way out the door -- that's the reward.".