As a new museum opens its doors in Decatur later this week, thousands of people are expected to visit and bring in a lot of money to surrounding businesses as well.
The Cook Museum of Natural Science will open on Friday. WAAY 31 got an early look at what you can expect to see, and we learned how it will impact the local economy.
“I can only see a positive impact," John Wheat said. "I don’t see anything negative.”
That’s what local business owner, John Wheat, has to say about his neighbor, the Cook Museum of Natural Science.
Wheat believes the new attraction will bring him more business.
“We hope to see the numbers increase a little bit," Wheat said. "We hope that it increases our lunch business, and we hope it’s a game-changer for downtown Decatur.”
And those at the museum agree.
“I think it’s going to inspire kids and families to go out and discover more," Mike Taylor said. "We have so much to discover in this area.”
While the new museum offers several things to discover already, like a cave, a tree, a beehive, and a kinetic sand table, Mike Taylor says the museum will encourage folks to discover things outside of their walls as well.
“Any time you bring in 200,000 people--which is what we would expect in a year--to an area, you’re going to have those same people going to eat, going to movies, going to water parks," he said.
Taylor told WAAY 31 they’re expecting thousands of people to travel to the museum from out of state, and he's sure those folks will want to make other stops on their trip, too.
“They want to know that they can spend their day here," Taylor said. "You don’t want to drive an hour and a half or two hours just to stay for a couple of hours.”
John Wheat said he thinks his restaurant will be a nice pit stop on these expected road trips.
“What we’re anticipating are the parents and the weekend business. People traveling and coming to Decatur to see this new attraction," he said. "This should be the one that really tips the dominoes over to begin more of a tourism-destination-type place.”
If you go to the museum this weekend, you can choose to have your picture taken. That picture will then be put on a wall as part of a mosaic for all future visitors to see.
The museum will open on Friday, June 7th.