Hands On! Discovery Center at Gray Fossil Site

Hands On! Discovery Center at Gray Fossil Site, Johnson City: Hours, Address, Hands On! Discovery Center at Gray Fossil Site Reviews: 3.5/5

Hands On! Discovery Center at Gray Fossil Site

Hands On! Discovery Center at Gray Fossil Site
3.5
Natural History Museums • Science Museums • Children's Museums
13:00 - 17:00
Monday
10:00 - 17:00
Tuesday
10:00 - 17:00
Wednesday
10:00 - 17:00
Thursday
10:00 - 17:00
Friday
10:00 - 17:00
Saturday
10:00 - 17:00
Sunday
13:00 - 17:00
About
This all-ages science center offers fun interactive exhibits that include immersive augmented reality experiences, a bi-polar musical Tesla coil, giant building blocks, a 3-story Paleo tower, a maker space, an art studio, and much more! Guests are invited to engineer a rocket, build a wind-powered car, create an artistic masterpiece, and discover something new. Visit an active fossil dig site dating back 5 million years and enjoy exhibits and programs featuring the plant and animal fossils that have been unearthed at the site, including tapir, rhinoceros, saber-tooth cat, alligator, short-faced bear, red panda, and a 10-ton mastodon! Additional exhibits will open later this year, including an outdoor garden opening in summer 2021!
Suggested duration
2-3 hours
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3.5
23 reviews
Excellent
10
Very good
2
Average
4
Poor
2
Terrible
5

gmorgan6
Morristown, TN178 contributions
Disappointed
May 2021 • Family
My mom took me to the Hands On Museum in Johnson City as a kid and I loved it. I could not wait to take my child here but it is pretty different from the old site. We were disappointed and missed the attractions from the old site. I really expected this to be great and there were some great hands on things at the new museum but it is lacking and felt repetitive. The hands on station in the main building is too similar to the hands on station in the second building. I would love to see the play grocery store and bank brought back. It just felt not as playful as the old location.
Written 29 May 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

Kathy J
1 contribution
What a disappointment
Apr 2021
I took my grandsons ages 6 and 9 to the Hands On/Gray Fossil Site Museum and was looking forward to seeing the exhibits and interactive activities that Hands On has always been known for. What a total disappointment. The opportunity to improve Hands On from the old location has been missed completely and it is now only a sad shadow of its former self. Several animal skeletons in one display, scattered displays of partial bones and/or teeth and a tower to climb. Of course there are the building blocks to play with.
Written 1 April 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

Rebecca
Johnson City, TN1 contribution
Enjoyable and safe!!
Jun 2020
I felt very comfortable being in the museum - they are doing a great job keeping everything clean and safe. There was plenty of signage for anything that wasn't open. The staff is friendly and helpful. I enjoyed my visit a lot and hope to be back soon. Thanks for doing your part to ensure that everyone is safe and entertained during these difficult times!!
Written 22 July 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

Foodadventures615
Burns, TN26 contributions
This is for young children!
Nov 2019 • Family
Went expecting to see some exciting information about the fossil dig. It’s really a science center play area attraction for young children. Displays are not functioning, incomplete due to specimens being pulled for inspection, etc. What you can see upstairs is somewhat vague, and videos would be helpful to illustrate the work being done.
If you have little kids, go! They will love it! Otherwise, go hiking. 😕
Written 9 November 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC.
Thank you very much for taking the time to leave a review. We are working on renovating the Paleo hall to include finds since this exhibit areas was last updated. Our school group audience runs from pre-K to college as well as senior groups so we are truly an all-ages science center. If you were wanting more information on the fossil finds, a guided Paleo Tour would definitely be worth the $3. It is a much more in-depth tour that includes a close up of the dig site.
Written 11 November 2019
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

Heather S
Bristol, Virginia, United States1 contribution
Good but not what I remembered
Sep 2019 • Family
My 8 yr old autistic daughter had a blast here. She loved the topography sand immensely and the make it take it had her creating for about an hour. As adults we liked the wooden blocks more than I would like to admit. The staff was amazing, two of the young women working helped us build things and were a pleasure to talk to. This is the first time that I've been to Hands On, since I was a child and I hate that none of the cool stuff I remember from the down town location was at the new location, it now seems small and kinda cramped.
Written 29 September 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC.
Hi Heather, Thank you so much for your feedback. We are happy to hear that you and your daughter really enjoyed her visit to the all-new Hands On! Discovery Center!
Written 1 October 2019
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

Natalie G
Wise, VA1 contribution
My kids were bored.
Jul 2019 • Family
While my girls liked some of the science activities, they were just not into the fossil exhibits which can only be so exciting. The Hands On! name misled me as to what to expect. Nothing like the old Hands on.
Written 26 July 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

skycaid
Council Bluffs, IA31 contributions
Expected more
Jul 2019 • Family
I read the reviews and feedback by others in being disappointed with this new location. I dismissed it because sometimes change is hard for people. Though my kids liked it we all gave it about a 50% thumbs up. The website makes note of it being an active dig site and there is a place to walk and view. Yes, there is a spot to walk out there but no, you can't actually see them doing the dig unless you count the machinery. Disappointing...

It was nice to go and see some of the fossils and mess with the science experiments but I, sadly, can't say it was something we will talk about and memorialize when we get home.
Written 2 July 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC.
We are sorry to hear that you did not completely enjoy your recent visit. Since you did not include what day you visited (and the large machinery project was completed a few weeks ago) I will share with you more information about the dig season. Because of the weather, the dig site activity is limited to May - October and even in those months weather, temperature, and work in the lab dictate the times of day that staff and volunteers are able to be outside. Staff is onsite (inside or outside) Tuesday - Saturday, with major holidays off. The new pit that has been opened this season is quite close to the viewing area and screen washing has been moved closer so visitors can ask questions and easily see what is happening.
Written 3 July 2019
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

Tacyjane
Johnson City, TN11 contributions
Wonderful Day!
Jun 2019
Please visit this amazing place and don’t listen to negative reviews. I almost didn’t go here because of them and it would have been a real shame to miss this. My 3 and 9 year old played for hours and learned so much science and history! Amazing, don’t miss it!
Written 7 June 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC.
Thank you so much for visiting and we are very happy to hear that you and your children enjoyed it! We truly appreciate you taking the time to leave such a wonderful review!
Written 10 June 2019
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

Angus P
1 contribution
Not Fun at All
Sep 2018 • Solo
This Hands on! Discovery Center is definitely not as exciting and unique as it was in it's old location. At the old location, you could see the minds of any visitor wondering. It was absolutely amazing.There were many attractions that were great for children of any age. It helped children reach their full creativity. When I found out that Hands On! Discovery Center was going to move their location, I was upset because it was closed, and we were planning to go to Hands On at that time. When the new adress opened, I went to this location, hoping it would be the same, and maybe even better than the old Hands On! Discovery Center.

It was definitely not what I was hoping. This new location had no attractions that pushed children's imagination to the limits. There was very little for children to do there. Sure, there were engineering processes and attractions, but that really was all. Also, at the old location, there were many play-ground-based structures as well. All that was left from this was large blocks in which you could put together (with many children tackling each other over, of course.) I know one of my personal favorites was the grocery store and the banking area. Neither of these were featured in the new location for Hands On! Discovery Center. I was utterly disappointed. The only things that were at the new location that were there previously were the art studio, large stacking blocks, fossil-digging area, and the tornado machine, yet it was broken at the time we visited.

Have an amazing day/night.
Written 22 February 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC.
Hi Angus, We are very sorry that you did not enjoy your visit. After 30 years in a location that was never meant to be permanent, we had the opportunity to move to a new location that would better serve our visitors. With this move came the chance to broaden our exhibit offering, change our name, and rebrand ourselves as an all-ages science center expanding our audience from ages 3-7 to 3-adult. We are now able to offer interactive and educational experiences that can be enjoyed by visitors of all ages as well as experiences that allow multi-generational visitors to interact and make memories together. We understand that people are nostalgic about our old location and exhibits but hope that you will be able to look at us with fresh eyes and consider it an all new experience.
Written 25 February 2019
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

emileetrivette94
Johnson City, TN47 contributions
Boring
Jan 2019 • Friends
Extremely boring, huge let down. We were done in ten minutes. The fossils aren't even unique or big or anything...
Written 16 January 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC.
Hi Emilee, It sounds like your review is actually for the Gray Fossil Site which is included with your admission to Hands On! Discovery Center but has its own TripAdvisor page. However, we are very sorry that you did not enjoy your visit. We hope that you went through the main Paleo Hall that presents some of the early fossils uncovered at the site and were able to view what the staff and volunteers are working on in the prep lab and collections, including what we anticipate will be a 10-ton mastodon once it is complete! The last fossil pieces of this giant find were excavated at the end of the 2018 dig season and are currently being reassembled in the prep lab, which you can watch through the viewing windows. The dig season is active May through October, weather permitting, and you can often find staff and volunteers outside working in one of the active pits. It is estimated that we have only uncovered 1% of the fossil deposits at the site so we hope you will consider visiting us again as we continue to add new exhibits and uncover new fossil finds!
Written 18 January 2019
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

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Frequently Asked Questions about Hands On! Discovery Center at Gray Fossil Site

Hands On! Discovery Center at Gray Fossil Site is open:
  • Sun - Sun 13:00 - 17:00
  • Mon - Sat 10:00 - 17:00