The first thing that strikes a visitor at the new Keybank Discovery Theater at Imagination Station is the size of the screen. A 58-foot monster, it stuns onlookers as they enter.
“We like to describe it as two killer whales, nose to tail, just to give you an idea,” said Imagination Station senior information officer Amy Mohr. “But the seating is really well thought out, because we really wanted people to feel like they were part of the movies they were watching.”
However, the huge screen is just part of what makes this latest addition to the Imagination Station special. Versatility is the name of the game for the 278-seat hall. Although most people who enter the spacious room will take part in the educational films that the station will regularly show here, this is not the only possible function of the theater.
“You can watch 3D movies, people can hook up their gaming systems and play video games on that, we can do a variety of presentations where you can do picture-in-picture. So technically, It’s really advanced. We can do a lot on that screen, which makes it multi-purpose for this community,” Mohr said.
To say that it’s been a long time since the Discovery Theater opened is certainly an understatement. Ground was broken when it added in 2019, but naturally, the disease—not to be named—caused many delays.
Construction was eventually completed in the fall of 2020, but the continued closure of Imagination Station meant that the public could not experience the theater until its official opening in May.
“I don’t want to say that the closure was a blessing, but it gave us the opportunity to really focus those resources so that we can get this project done and ready,” Mohr said. “So when people came, they were able to take advantage of it.”
The theater’s primary draw right now is the educational films that air throughout the day during the station’s narrower-current business hours. Two short films are currently being shown: a 3D documentary about scientists studying marine life called “Hidden Pacific” and a profile of rescue animals called “Superpower Dogs”.
“Right now we are open on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, but are on our website all the time. So we alternate shows, so you can watch one and then play the next,” Mohr said.
ability to adapt
Attendees can buy combo tickets to both the science center and screenings of the film, or buy just one ticket to the movie if that’s all they want to do. The two films that are being shown now are expected to be released throughout the summer, though this may change. The station has a contract with a company called D3D Cinema based out of Evanston, IL, which provides a library of potential content to choose from.
In addition, the theater can be rented and used for a variety of other programs and purposes. “We are closed most of the week now, but before we were fully open to the public, we were open for private rentals,” Mohr said.
“We’ve had local businesses here and they’ve held various brainstorming sessions, or they have meetings, and they’re able to use the screen for their powerpoints. We’ve given people birthday parties, where their family comes and goes. Watch whatever they want. We had some people come over and they just wanted to play Mario Kart… I think that’s what we’re most excited about- we’re going to be able to reach those audiences. which we have not been able to bring to the Science Center.”
Screening plans for films are always subject to change, as well, if another film seems particularly timely or appropriate to the audience. Screenings of other ocean movies are planned for Shark Week in August. Other upcoming events are also planned which the station has not yet officially revealed.
“We’re really passionate about lifelong learning, so we’re hoping we can bring people of all ages to experience science in a different way,” Mohr said.
From Saturday through September 6, kids 12 and under in Lucas County can watch movies for free at the Keybank Discovery Theater. For more information or showtimes, visit imaginestationtoledo.org/keybank-discovery-theater.