Pictured is Regina Peoples and her daughter Anna.

Community members are working to create something unique for the children in McAlester and surrounding area — the McAlester Discovery Museum.

The grassroots project began in September 2016 and is a collaborative effort with a board of educators, parents and community partners whose goal is to create a space for children from kindergarten to eighth grade to explore, create, and connect with the community, according to Discovery Museum Board President Regina Peoples.

Peoples, a Hartshorne resident, decided to gather interested individuals to form the nonprofit organization which is dedicated to the creation of a children’s discovery museum in McAlester.

The project is currently operating under the nonprofit McAlester Area Arts and Humanities Council until the project organization is able to reach its own 501(c)(3) status.

Peoples said she came up with the idea after visiting several museums with her daughter and feeling it would be possible to create one closer to her hometown.

“I have a daughter, Anna, and we visit museums pretty often,” Peoples said. “When I left, I often had the thought that certain aspects of the museums would be replicable back home.”

The project recently launched a fundraiser on aiming to raise $5,000 to open a pop-up museum — a temporary installation in an unoccupied building — during the summer of 2018.

“The plan is to open a pop-up as a demonstration for the community,” Peoples said. “We want to show what a small group of volunteers can do on a limited budget.”

Peoples added the $5,000 will go towards initial expenses including liability insurance and rent for the facility used during the pop-up demonstration.

Plans for the interior of the pop-up museum include a construction area with building supplies, a space dedicated to Oklahoma’s natural history and a STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math) area where children will be able to design and create with a hands-on experience.

“This will be the first step toward the eventual goal of planning and fundraising for a permanent museum in the community,” Peoples said.

She added an admission to the pop-up museum will be a suggested donation of $5 per guest.

“We’ve had a lot of positive feedback on the idea and this is an opportunity to give the idea a small-scale test run,” Peoples said. “We are looking to connect with individuals interested in building this space for the community to explore, create, and connect with science, art, community, and culture.”

A community meeting is set for 6 p.m. on Feb. 22 at Spaceship Earth Coffee in downtown McAlester. Peoples said this is an opportunity to get involved in the planning of the museum, meet some of the men and women working hard to make this dream a reality and get a sneak peek at the exhibits planned for the pop-up museum.

To donate or learn more about the project, contact Peoples at or to find the project on Facebook at

Contact Lacey Sudderth at

Contact Lacey Sudderth at

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