Wentzscope unveiled as Johnstown Children’s Museum opens to the public; elevator campaign going up!

Wentzscope unveiled as Johnstown Children’s Museum opens to the public; elevator campaign going up!

Posted: August 26, 2020 3:35 pm

Visitors to the Johnstown Children’s Museum have an exciting new interactive exhibit to explore when the museum reopens to the public this week.

The Wentzscope is a microscope specifically designed for museum installations that is sturdy and easy to use, allowing even the youngest children to experience the world of microbiology. It features a large eyepiece at the top, so that more than one child can see at a time. Specimens are mounted on non-breakable plexiglass, and viewers adjust a knob to focus on each specimen.

“When we were working with Conemaugh/Duke LifePoint on the new Career Corner area of the museum, we discussed the possibility of something like a microscope. But traditional microscopes are quite fragile, and it’s very easy to break glass specimen slides,” said Deb Winterscheidt, director of development for JAHA. “We researched how museums present microscopy to the public, and found out about the Wentzscope.”

The new installation is made possible by grants from the following funds at the Community Foundation for the Alleghenies: William L. Glosser Family Fund; Benjamin Bosler Fund; Jeanne Allen Memorial Fund; and Daniel & Marcia Glosser Memorial Fund.

The Wentzscope was developed by Budd Wentz, an inventor who holds degrees in law and engineering, and the first installation was made at the New York Hall of Science in 1988. Since then, Wentzscopes have been installed in hundreds of museums across the world. Previously, the closest Wentzscope was located in Pittsburgh.

The scope’s rotating specimen wheel holds five specimens for visitors to examine. Currently, blood cells, earthworm cells, muscle cells, and a spiderwort leaf are on display.

“Museum staff can change the specimens on a regular basis, which will keep the exhibition fresh,” said Marisa Tracey, director of children’s museum programming. “It’s a wonderful addition to the Conemaugh/Duke LifePoint Career Corner, because so many career options involve microscopes. We are so grateful to the Community Foundation for the Alleghenies for making it possible.”

The Johnstown Children’s Museum, which is located on the third floor of the Heritage Discovery Center, is reopening to the public on Aug. 27 after a period of closure due to the COVID-19 epidemic. Opening hours and visiting slots will be as follows:

  • Thursday and Friday: 10:00 am-12:00 pm; 12:00-2:00 pm; 2:00-4:00 pm
  • Saturday: 10:00 am-12:00 pm; 12:00-2:00 pm
  • Saturday: 2:00-5:00 pm, JAHA members-only session

The museum’s capacity within each slot will be limited to four families, for a maximum of 20 people at the children’s museum at any one time. Masks are required for visitors over the age of 2. JAHA strongly encourages children’s museum visitors to call ahead and pre-pay to reserve a two-hour slot. Walk-up visitors to the children’s museum will be accepted only if space is available. (Reservations are not necessary, however, to visit the Johnstown Flood Museum or other portions of the Heritage Discovery Center.)


JAHA’s campaign to replace the Heritage Discovery Center’s elevator, which had a catastrophic failure over the winter, is going up! An emergency GoFundMe fundraiser was launched in January to pay for the $90,000 repair. After raising about $15,000 before the pandemic hit, we are now at more than $35,000. Thank you to all who have donated!

To support JAHA’s emergency elevator campaign securely online, click on the button below; alternatively, send a check designated “elevator fund” to JAHA at PO Box 1889, Johnstown, PA 15907.

Donate today