ASHLAND, Ky. — Several local philanthropic organizations made sizable pledges to the new Clark Family Discovery Center campaign at the Highlands Museum on Saturday night during Dancing with Our Stars.

The John W. Clark Oil Company pledged $125,000 and Clarks Pump-N-Shop pledged another $125,000 to the Clark Family Discovery Center, bringing the total pledged amount to $250,000.

“The Clark family presented us with a big pledge,” Highlands Museum and Discovery Center Director Carol Allen said. “We’re incredibly excited. There were three presentations total. And, the architect and design team are already at work.”

The Clark family were among several charitable donors at Dancing with Our Stars. The Foundation for the Tri-State presented a check for $61,000 with $51,000 of those funds pledged by the Woodlands Advised Fund and $10,000 from the Mansbach Foundation Fund. The Woodlands Foundation also presented a $50,000 pledge to the Clark Family Discovery Center.

The Clark Family Discovery Center is an ongoing campaign to turn the second floor of the Highlands Museum into a new, and improved center for children.

“The idea began about two years ago,” Allen said. “We saw that our aging discovery center had faithfully served our community for 15 years. It’s been well loved by children, and it needed an upgrade.”

The museum staff then began a campaign to add new exhibits downstairs, and after success and positive public feedback, they realized they would soon outgrow the downstairs space.

“We decided to use the second floor, bring it upstairs, and make it much larger,” Allen said.

The Highlands Museum and Discovery Center through the help of Kim Jenkins of Sweetbay Landscaping then designed an initial floor plan, then hired Kraemer Designs to complete the exhibit designs and create a beautiful presentation.

The Clark Family Discovery Center design will include over a dozen new exhibits and features. Children visiting will have the opportunity to hop on the Blue Ribbon Bus Line and place their tokens in the bus, with window displays showing different times in our community.

Children can then stroll through the city and visit a local bank and learn how to utilize an ATM, or take a lesson on physics at the Energy Zone or study animals at the local Veterinarian Office.

The exhibit will also include a studio, with an iPlay exhibit that may display a football field one time, and then a piano or bubble bursting screen the next.

The exhibit will have a Butterfly Garden, created by the Southern Hills Garden Club, with a large caterpillar for children to crawl through and learn about facts, or swing from the cocoon and learn about the migration patterns of a butterfly.

Children can also climb through the cave and identify bear or coyote tracks.

The museum has also designed around the smallest members of our community, with a Toddler Zone with sidelines for parents with open visibility form one side to another.

Another incredibly exciting feature of the expansion is the new classrooms, said Allen. The classrooms will each house about 30 children for birthday parties.

“It’s going to be a fascinating place,” Allen said.