SIOUX FALLS, S.D (KELO) — New exhibits and activities are coming to the Washington Pavilion. Some areas in the downtown Sioux Falls attraction are now closed for construction.

Part of the Kirby Science Discovery Center will look a lot different for the next few months.

“The Pavilion has always strived to continue to- just continue to develop, continue to grow, continue to re-imagine ourselves. Our mission is to create memorable experiences,” Chief Operations Officer Kerri DeGraff said.

One of the newest additions is Building Buddies, a traveling exhibit that will be at the Pavilion until the end of summer.

“It is a opportunity for kids to learn about really what it takes to build a home or create a home,” DeGraff said.

Here, kids can paint, build with blocks and learn the ins and outs of construction.

“Building Buddies is going to be a great addition because with all of these changes, we are going to have to do some renovations of spaces,” DeGraff said.

This multimillion dollar renovation will add new exhibits to the Kirby Science Discovery Center. Construction started May 1. By the end of July, the Pavilion will have a new water exhibit and by the end of August, it will have a new state-of-the-art Planetarium.

“With all of the changes and the remodels around the building, our goal is to really keep our facility and our science center engaging to our community,” Director of Education, Programming and Exhibits Maddy Grogan said.

Washington Pavilion water play for kids May 2023
Water play area at Washington Pavilion, May 2023

The Water Room expansion is thanks to a $1.2 million gift from Patricia Knutson’s estate.

“That space is going to add so much to the Science Center, but also be a huge enhancement for our community for their kids to be able to experience,” DeGraff said.

Part of the gift will be used to build an exhibit showing the stages of water. The rest will be used to add additional exhibits to the Discovery Center.

“By introducing kids to those STEM, you know, science, technology, engineering math, by introducing them to it at a young age, we hope to kind of ignite that passion,” Grogan said.

The Wells Fargo CineDome will be transformed into a planetarium – the first one for Sioux Falls and for the surrounding region. It’s thanks to a $2 million donation from the Sweetman Family.

“The investments that they make in our organization, specifically into the science center, is helping us compete with larger cities,” DeGraff said.

New technology will convert the CineDome into the Wells Fargo CineDome and Sweetman Planetarium.

“We will be doing programming. We’ll be doing live events. We can stream a live space launch. We can do a stream of solar eclipse. We were just talking about the programming opportunities that we will have are endless, and the technology will put our planetarium as one of the best in the country,” DeGraff said.

Washington Pavilion Wells Fargo CineDome
Outside the CineDome at the Washington Pavilion, May 2023

The goal of all these new exhibits is to create exciting experiences for the community and the thousands of students who walk through the doors every year.

“To see those lights kind of go off, and their eyes get big or sparkle, or they tell you some facts that maybe you didn’t know. It’s just a great opportunity to kind of make those connections in a fun environment,” Grogan said.

Dakota State University and MarketBeat are also partnering with the Pavilion to remodel the Space and Technology Floor.

Currently the groups are working to design how the new floor will look. Installations of the new exhibits are expected to take place next year.