AUGUSTA — Viles Arboretum is set to open an indoor activity room for children, located on the basement floor of its Visitor Center at 153 Hospital St. In collaboration with the Children’s Discovery Museum, the room is outfitted to create opportunities for exploration, with a nature sensory table, train table, loose-parts ball ramps, imaginative farmers market, microscopes and more. The space is geared towards children 1 to 6 years old and will be open for scheduled, private play sessions from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday, according to a news release from the arboretum.

The arboretum is a free, easily accessible, botanical garden and nature center that is open from dawn to dusk, seven days a week on Hospital Street. The space includes 6 miles of trails, dozens of botanical collections, and local art (all marked and signed), on 224 acres. The arboretum’s preserved land, interpretive materials, exhibits, programs and events, and its trail system are designed for people of all ages to provide opportunities for education, recreation and inspiration.

“We have been wanting to better utilize some of the indoor spaces we have in our facility to better serve our families, so this is a perfect collaboration,” said Viles Arboretum Executive Director Ryan Martin, according to the release. “Especially now, people are looking for things to do with their children, so we are excited to present this space to the community. ”

The museum has been serving families in central Maine for nearly 30 years, with a mission to ignite curiosity and celebrate learning through play. In March 2020, the museum was forced to close its door in response to the pandemic and made the difficult decision to focus all of its efforts on the creation of a new larger space in Waterville, and will not be reopening its Augusta location.

“Our new location will have all new exhibits, which had us wondering if there was a way to utilize exhibits from our Augusta location,” said Amarinda Keys, the Children’s Discovery Museum executive director, according to the release. “Creating this new space with Viles allows us to repurpose some of our beloved pieces and recreate opportunities for learning through play in Augusta.”

The arboretum and museum have worked together many times in the past. The museum has hosted several summer camps, afterschool programs, and special events on the Vile’s campus and the two organizations partnered to host a “BBQ and Family Fun Festival” in the summer of 2020.

For more information about the room and how to register, visit vilesarboretum.org/education.