Kaleideum was created from the July 2016 merger of the Children’s Museum of Winston-Salem and SciWorks, the Science Center and Environmental Park of Forsyth County. Currently, the museum operates two locations — Kaleideum Downtown (formerly The Children’s Museum of Winston-Salem) and Kaleideum North (formerly SciWorks).
In 1962, four women, on behalf of the Junior League of Winston-Salem, introduced a new idea for a nature science center that would become a permanent part of the educational and recreational landscape for Winston-Salem.
By January 1964, the decision was made to locate the center in the barn at Reynolda Estate, which was graciously made available by the Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation. Through the cooperation of Wake Forest College, the 100 acres surrounding the building were also made available for outdoor study and conservation. Plans for the center included educational programs in the natural and physical sciences, displays, dramas, field trips, nature walks and a small planetarium in the barn’s silo. On December 12, 1964, the Nature Science Center officially opened its doors, allowing generations of Piedmont Triad residents and visitors to experience scientific inquiry through informal, hands-on, experiential learning.
The science center was co-sponsored by the Recreation Department of the City of Winston-Salem, the Winston-Salem Foundation, the Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation, and the Junior League of Winston-Salem. During October of the following year, there was a formal ribbon-cutting and dedication. Over the years, the center moved to its present location on Hanes Mill Road, changed its name to SciWorks, expanded the exhibits and revised the mission to reflect its responsiveness to the changing needs of the community.
The Children’s Museum of Winston-Salem, now Kaleideum Downtown, was conceived by the Junior League of Winston-Salem as its 75th anniversary gift to the community. The Museum opened its doors on November 20, 2004, after a successful capital campaign.
In 2011, the Children’s Museum of Winston-Salem was honored to be awarded a $150,000 grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) Museums for America program. Museums for America is the nation’s largest federal funding program for museums. Reviewed by panels of professional peers, these grants are highly-competitive. The Museum’s grant funded a new interactive playscape – Kaleidoscape – and six additional, outdoor, participatory art installations.
The Childrens’ Museum and SciWorks began talks of a possible collaboration in early 2015. On July 1, 2016, the two museums officially merged with a mission of “Inspiring wonder, curiosity, and lifelong learning in our children and community through interactive play and discovery.” The merged organization announced its new name — Kaleideum, a combination of kaleidoscope and museum — on February 7, 2017.