WonderWorks Branson Explores History, Art, Military Service
Several unique elements await inside WonderWorks’ sixth venue, located in Branson, Missouri. The history and art of Branson, along with its Ozark Mountains setting, help root exhibits in local lore. A section recognizing military veterans; science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM)-related military occupations; and the rich history of Route 66—which was born in nearby Springfield—take center stage.
Brenda Dent, general manager of WonderWorks Branson, says local history became a focal point when designers spent time with area residents.
“We started working with people throughout the community when we decided to expand to Branson. It was apparent this community prides itself on its history, so we felt it was important to include,” Dent shares with Funworld.
Guests discover how Branson got its name, learn the importance of musical theater in the community, and explore the Ozarks’ indigenous Native American tribes. With fishing, boating, and nature playing a big part in the area’s identity, interactive exhibits highlight the outdoors. Dent jokes that actual fishing is not an exhibit but adds, “In all seriousness, the history of Branson section is made to look like nature.” Meanwhile, bass fishing is highlighted in videos, and trivia questions appear throughout.
WonderWorks Branson also features a local art gallery, including the work of young artists from area schools, as well as art dedicated to Route 66. In fact, each of the attraction’s three floors features a Route 66 exhibit, including a memory board where guests can relate their personal experiences along the highway. “It is a company initiative. This is the first location where we rolled it out,” says Dent. “We advertised it, and people responded.”
At 45,000 square feet, this WonderWorks is the largest of the half dozen locations opened to date.
A program called “WonderKids” invites teachers to nominate students who excel in academics, serve their community, or show a passion for science. The first recognition ceremony featured retired NASA astronaut Dr. Don Thomas as the keynote speaker.