A Look Inside The Expanded Children’s Museum of Denver

<p>(Corey H. Jones/CPR News)</p>
<p>Hadley Johnson, 11, of Arvada, Colo., reaches for a ball in a feature that&#039;s part of the new Water exhibit at the Children&#039;s Museum on Monday, Nov. 16, 2015.</p>

Following a $16.1 million expansion, the Children’s Museum of Denver at Marsico Campus reopens on Friday with six new exhibits including the Teaching Kitchen, the Art Studio and more.

What’s 9-year-old Arvada resident Bode Johnson’s favorite?

Altitude, a climbing structure that takes visitors three and a half stories up. The feature aims to capture the spirit of climbing a 14er. And don’t forget your helmet.

“One of the best parts is where you have to go across this bridge and each piece of rock moves,” Bode says. “It’s a little bit of a challenge.”

Amber Johnson -- Bode’s mother – says her kids were aging out of the old exhibits at the Children’s Museum before the expansion.

“I’m really happy that there’s something geared to them,” she says. “The older kids can appreciate the science behind it.”

Photo: Children&#039;s Museum Of Denver President And CEO Mike Yankovich
Mike Yankovich, Children's Museum Of Denver president and CEO, sits in the new Art Studio on Monday, Nov. 16, 2015.

Children’s Museum president and CEO Mike Yankovich says his staff visited places like zoos, botanic gardens and children’s museums around the country seeking inspiration for new exhibits.

“The final part was really trying to create exhibits and experiences that have never been done before,” Yankovich says.

The museum emphasized Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) disciplines by adding areas that explore issues like water and energy.

Yankovich says the new features were designed with an open-ended approach to education in mind.

“Don’t try to control people’s experience. Create platforms that allow them to really show off some level of individuality,” he says. “It really is about children becoming architects of their own learning.”

Last year, the museum served more than 327,000 children and adults, which resulted in over-crowding, Yankovich says. The recent renovation doubled the amount of space.

The Children’s Museum expansion also includes more parking and Joy Park: An Outdoor Adventure, which the museum unveiled this summer. The park includes sand dunes, rivers, forts and a zip line.