Discovery Place Science
Experience Discovery Place’s Newest Exhibition
As we enter year three of the pandemic, Discovery Place Science wants to know how people in our community are doing. On January 29, the Museum opened Mental Health: MIND MATTERS, a special exhibition presented by Atrium Health in Charlotte that gives visitors a memorable, impactful experience exploring the science of mental health.
As the leading hub for science learning in the Carolinas, Discovery Place seeks to provide education and a safe space to hold important conversations that impact us on both a personal level and as a community.
“The pandemic has been a catalyst in bringing important conversations about mental health to the forefront of our everyday lives,” said Catherine Wilson Horne, Discovery Place president and CEO. “At Discovery Place Science, we want to do our part to keep the dialogue going and help folks understand the science behind feelings and how we experience the world, especially as we approach what looks to be yet another year of uncertainty. We are inspired by this exhibition because it brings awareness to the realities of mental illness while also providing a safe, reflective space to hold these conversations.”
Exploring Mental Illness
Through interactive and immersive multimedia activities, MIND MATTERS explores something that touches our lives every day yet has historically been clouded by misperceptions. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, one in five U.S. adults experience mental illness.
“This is a unique opportunity to open up conversations that will help destigmatize mental illness and encourage those in need to seek treatment,” Wayne Sparks, MD, senior medical director of Behavioral Health Services at Atrium Health. “Many people are struggling mentally right now, and we want people to know they’re not alone.”
This exhibition intends to address the stigma of mental illness while illustrating the facts—mental illness is common, it can happen to anyone and it is treatable. MIND MATTERS shapes understanding by showing visitors how mental illness has been treated in the past and builds empathy by demonstrating what it’s like to live with mental illnesses—including depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
“Atrium Health is excited to partner with Discovery Place Science on Mind Matters by providing expertise about mental health concerns and treatment,” said Jim Dunn, enterprise executive vice president and chief people and culture officer for Atrium Health. “Together, we can help educate the Charlotte community about mental health in a new, refreshing way.”
Inside the Exhibition
In Mind Matters, guests can:
- Peer back in time to important moments in mental health history and see how treatments have changed dramatically over time and continue to evolve.
- Test their mental health knowledge and discover that mental illnesses are similar and connected to physical illnesses in many ways.
- Try on a pair of noise distorting headphones and experience the difficulties of how some people suffering from psychosis are unable to filter out surrounding sounds.
- Listen to people just like themselves share personal experiences about living with mental illness.
- Play an emotion recognition game, which invites participants to act out an emotion using only facial expressions—an exercise more challenging than it sounds, especially for those trying to guess the emotion.
- Discover how artistic activities like painting, dancing and writing can help us identify and express our emotions and strengthen our mental health.
- Write down their worries and destroy them in the Worry Shredder.
Path to Mindfulness
Another part of the experience unique to Charlotte is the Path to Mindfulness exhibit. Conceptualized and created by the team at Discovery Place Science, this companion exhibit enhances the guest experience inside MIND MATTERS.
Designed to showcase the benefits of mindfulness and its importance in our everyday lives, it gives visitors space to reflect on life’s small things while also calling attention to the satisfaction that comes from connections with other living things, like plants and animals.
Highlights from Path to Mindfulness include:
- Wind Phone – it started in Japan over a decade ago as a way for people to hold one-way conversations with loved ones they have lost. Discovery Place offers its own version for personal reflection.
- Mindfulness Room – offers guests a brief opportunity to experience a mindful, meditative space inside the Museum.
- An introduction to the term, biophilia – the human tendency to create connections with other life forms, like plants and animals.
- Nature Mixing – guests create their own nature sequence by combining sound and scenery.
Mental Health: MIND MATTERS and Path to Mindfulness run through April 10 and are free with admission to Discovery Place Science. As the Museum continues to follow all health and safety precautions related to COVID-19, advanced tickets are required to visit the Museum. Tickets can be reserved by visiting www.discoveryplacescience.org.
Mental Health: MIND MATTERS was produced by the Science Museum of Minnesota with Heureka, The Finnish Science Centre and their partners, Ciência Viva and Cité de Sciences & L’industrie. It is presented by Atrium Health in Charlotte.