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National Eye Institute exhibit finds permanent home

February 01, 2008

After 14 years and 33 stops at science museums throughout the United States, the National Eye Institute's VISION traveling exhibit has reached its final destination. For the past 16 months, the exhibit has been on display at Discovery Station at Hagerstown.

The exhibit had been on loan, and now, thanks to the NEI, VISION is now a permanent part of the museum's collection.

"The VISION tour, which was launched in 1993 to celebrate the NEI's 25th anniversary, has given more than six million people around the nation the opportunity to learn about the importance of vision and the sight-saving research sponsored by the NEI," said NEI Director Paul A. Sieving, M.D., Ph.D. "By giving the exhibit back to the community, we are pleased that this valuable educational effort will continue to benefit the taxpayers who supported its development."

The 2,000-square-foot exhibit features hands-on activities that demonstrate complex concepts in simple terms, making it accessible and fun for people of all ages. VISION teaches museum visitors how the eye focuses light, how we perceive motion and color and how the brain processes visual information. The exhibit extends learning opportunities through 10 interactive components that demonstrate optical illusions, allow visitors to see tiny blood vessels in the retina and demonstrate the range of our vision.

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"We are honored to have VISION as part of our permanent collection. Thanks to this donation, we can continue to offer our visitors pertinent, engaging and enjoyable information about the science of vision," said B. Marie Byers, community leader and president of Discovery Station.

The President of the Hagerstown-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau Tom Riford said, "To have this great national exhibit now be part of the Discovery Station's permanent collection, is a feather in the cap for Hagerstown. Visitors from throughout the nation have come to Discovery Station, and enjoy the NEI display, and learn how the eye and brain work together to create vision." Riford said that the Discovery Station hands-on science center is "a great attraction for Downtown Hagerstown."

Discovery Station is an intergenerational museum of science, technology, and history, at 101 W. Washington St. in Hagerstown. Through programs and interactive exhibits, it strives to stimulate curiosity for discovery, exploration, and further investigation by children and adults. Since opening in May 2005, Discovery Station has been acclaimed by the community, the media and its diverse visitors as an outstanding example of an interactive museum that serves people of all ages and interests. Discovery Station is also the home of the Hagerstown Aviation Museum, which is included in museum admission.

Discovery Station is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday from 2 to 5 p.m. It is closed on holidays. Admission costs $6 for those 2 to 17; $7 for adults; $5 for Seniors (55 and older) and military; $3 for students; and free for teachers. Group rates are available.

The National Eye Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Science, is the federal government's primary agency for vision research. NEI-supported research has led to tremendous advances in treating blinding diseases such as glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, uveitis and retinopathy of prematurity.

To learn more about NEI, visit www.nei.nih.gov. To learn more about Discovery Station at Hagerstown, visit www.discoverystation.org. To learn more about Hagerstown-Washington County, see: www.marylandmemories.com.

The National Eye Institute conducts and supports research that leads to sight-saving treatments and plays a key role in reducing visual impairment and blindness. The NEI is part of the National Institutes of Health, an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

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