The growing pains are finished for Franklin Street's Kidzu Children's Museum. After two years of renting other children's museums' exhibits while raising the money to create its own, Kidzu unveiled its first original exhibit July 11. "This is a really momentous time for us as a children's museum," Kidzu Executive Director Cathy Maris said. "The rented children's exhibits really didn't reflect and show our community or our creativity." Kidzu closed its doors to the public for approximately two months to prepare for the installation of "KidZoom: The Power of Creativity." Maris said the focus of this exhibit comes from many angles. "One of our primary goals was to make this exhibit enormously interactive, with a lot of open-ended features," Maris said. "We really wanted to celebrate kids' artwork, in addition to that of adults in this area." In early 2007, the nonprofit organization put together an exhibit advisory committee responsible for creating the concept for its debut. The exhibit combines the work of 13 local artists challenged to incorporate hands-on learning experiences for children in their artwork. "This is definitely a big step for Kidzu. The exhibit is so much more interactive than the ones we've had in the past," said UNC sophomore Teresa Meredith, a visitor service associate at Kidzu. "The others offered hands-on stuff, but this goes above and beyond what we've had. It allows kids to be creative." The bilingual exhibit houses three primary creation "zones:" the "Green Thumb" Garden-to-Table Market, the "Build-A-Dream" Construction Zone and the "Kidoodle Moodle" Art Studio. Cynthia Fouschee and her 6-year-old son, Johnell Vann, are regulars at Kidzu and both expressed their excitement about this new exhibit. "The kids are having a ball with this new exhibit," Fouschee said. "They can't figure out what to do next. There's so much to do. We'll definitely be back." Maris said the exhibit has cost the museum $115,000 thus far, the bulk of which was raised through private donations. KidZoom will be the last exhibit to appear at the museum's current location, until it raises the $2 to $3 million needed to build its expansion museum. The move will take place in two to three years. "We have big aspirations," Maris said. "We want to become one of the best children's community museums in the country. "We also ultimately aspire to become a family education innovator in terms of how children learn." But for now, Kidzu staff is focused on involving and inspiring the local community, Maris said. "We are all about serving and reflecting our community, so it's such a wonderful opportunity to finally be able to have an exhibit dedicated to that." Contact the City Editor at firstname.lastname@example.org.