Thursday July 7th, 2022 2:59AM

INK celebrates one year of being reopened after fire and flood damage

By Kimberly Sizemore Anchor/Reporter

Gainesville’s children’s museum, Interactive Neighborhood for Kids (INK), is celebrating its one-year anniversary since reopening after a fire last year. They reopened in February 2019 after closing for five months due to fire and flood damage. Despite the unexpected misfortune, the last year has been a successful one for the museum.

Director Mandy Volpe says thanks to the community support, 2019 was an outstanding year for the museum. Not only was there a record number of visitors, with more than 78,000 guests, but the atraction also was selected as “Best of Hall County” in 2019 for museums. “It’s been really incredible to see the impact we have made this last year,” said Volpe.

The closure also allowed the museum to add some new features, such as a body shop, a movie theater and a manufacturing exhibit, as well as add some new programs.

One program added last fall includes working with adults who suffer from dementia. “When we say we are truly a museum for ‘kids of all ages,’ we really do mean ALL ages,” said Volpe. The idea began when board member Bill Wittel, whose wife has dementia, realized that the interactive exhibits could benefit those who are older, as well as younger. “It was a great partnership from the beginning,” said Volpe.

Now INK invites memory care facilities and non-profit organizations that work with dementia patients to visit the museum. “I call them ‘memory care field trips,’” said Volpe.

The patients love the hands-on experience, dancing to the music and the recollection of things from their younger days. She says one of her favorite moments was when an elderly man was able to recall a particular part of his past thanks to his visit. “One particular gentleman came and you could just see his eyes light up. You could actually see as he had a memory. It was sparked because he saw a product on the shelf in our grocery store section. It turns out, he actually helped to create that product.”

Though the fire was a tragedy, INK used it as an opportunity to grow and add to their already successful museum. Along with the new program working with dementia patients, and the new exhibits, INK has also added more after-hours events and new partners, such as UNG, which will soon be hosting a “family day” with INK.

According to Volpe, one of the most surprising aspects of the last year was the number of guests and where they came from. “We had guests from 26 different counties. It’s been amazing to see who comes – visitors from out of state, especially.” She adds that the last year would not be possible without the encouragement of the local community. “I have loved being able to see so many more community members coming to the museum.”

For more information on INK, or the museum's upcoming events, go to  








  • Associated Categories: Homepage, Local/State News
  • Associated Tags: gainesville, Interactive Neighborhood for Kids, INK, children, Children's Museum, Dementia
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