Nature Research Center opens

janes@newsobserver.comApril 20, 2012 

MUSEUM02.NE.041912.ASR

Steve Popson, assistant marketing director for the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences, changes the countdown to "1 Day" in the walkway over Salisbury Street connecting the Nature Research Center in Raleigh on Thursday, April 19, 2012. It was the day before the 24-hour grand opening of the new wing of the museum. After installing the "1", he removed the "S" from "DAYS".

SHAWN ROCCO — srocco@newsobserver.com

The Nature Research Center opens Friday with a 24-hour celebration across two city blocks in downtown Raleigh.

The $56 million expansion of the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences, with its colossal globe known as the SECU Daily Planet, is expected to capture the imagination of thousands of visitors when the doors open at 5:30 p.m.

Round-the-clock festivities include bands, food trucks, children’s activities, and two parades Saturday. Inside the museum, explore the deep sea in a model submersible, see the skeleton of Stumpy the whale, and marvel at some of the largest emeralds ever found in North America. The best part? It’s free.

The opening ceremony will feature a procession of costumed characters carrying vessels of water from around the globe to be used for a tree planting – a fitting kickoff to the new addition and Earth Day, which is Sunday.

Here’s a schedule of Friday’s opening events outside the museum on Jones Street:

4 p.m.: Preshow, with Shaw University Band and the African-American Dance Ensemble.

4:30 p.m.: Procession from Executive Mansion down Jones Street to the museum, featuring music and the Paperhand Puppets.

5 p.m.: Opening ceremony, emceed by Chuck Davis and Ira David Wood III.

5:30 p.m.: Doors open, with tours for the public.

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