Archive for the 'New museum' Category

Heading towards the future

by Terry Burton, Digital Media Coordinator

When we started this blog back in March 2008, we knew we’d have a lot to talk about. We’re museum geeks, so that means we’re interested in all kinds of stuff (some of them, admittedly, a little strange). We work at a museum that combines history, culture, and science, so that gives us pretty unlimited horizons too. And the world is just full of amazingly fascinating things. It’s been a blast writing about all this stuff and you have been a wonderful, and responsive, audience.

We’ve had this other little thing going on too, namely, building an all-new museum. What was just a gleam in our eyes a few years ago has grown into a huge project that is moving ahead at warp speed. We thought it would never get here, and now it’s almost upon us! Construction for the new building will be finished in three scant months; we’re working with our exhibit fabrication team to turn the wonderful designs from Gyroscope, Inc. (our exhibit master planning company) into reality; and we’re really starting to cast our minds ahead to the opening of this grand new adventure.

As exciting (and exhausting!) as this all is, it also means that we’re beginning to have to pull back on some of what we’re doing now. Running a museum while building a new one has been a unique experience of juggling and multitasking, for sure. We are planning to close our current institution at the end of this year so we can fully prepare to open the new museum in the summer of 2012.

I’m finally getting to the point, which is that for now, we are going to put this blog to bed a bit. We’re not going to take it down, but we won’t be updating it as regularly. We do plan to provide updates on the new museum project and we may squeeze in some other posts along the way, too. And when we’re open at the new museum, look for us again — we won’t be able to contain ourselves for long. The world is just too full of amazingly fascinating things.

Fort Collins Museum & Discovery Science Center staff at the construction site, November 2010

My huge thanks to all the staff who contributed to this blog: Katie Bowell, Lesley Drayton, Linda Moore, Jason Wolvington, Treloar Bower, Toby Swaford, Tiffani Righero, Leigh Westphal, Ashley Houston, Pat Walker, Brent Carmack, Annette Geiselman, Beth Higgins, Cory Gundlach, Amy Scott, and Jayne Hansen. You all rock!

Temple Grandin: The World Needs All Kinds of Minds

by Katie Bowell, Curator of Cultural Interpretation

If you watched the 2011 Golden Globes last Sunday, you may have spotted Dr. Temple Grandin in the audience. The HBO movie about her life, Temple Grandin, was up for more awards (and Claire Danes won for her portrayal of Dr. Grandin) after walking away with seven Emmy’s last year.

In a year in which so many people were exposed to Dr. Grandin’s work as an animal scientist, author and autism activist, we consider ourselves very lucky to have such a fantastic (and famous!) resource and supporter of the new museum right here in Fort Collins.

Here’s Dr. Grandin’s inspiring 2010 Ted Talk on why the worlds needs all sorts of thinkers.

 

New Museum Update – The Walls are Coming Up

by Terry Burton, Digital Media Coordinator

Laying down the "mud slab" at the new museum construction site

Since breaking ground in September, construction has been proceeding apace at the new museum site. Practically all of the work so far is at or below the surface — hundreds of helical foundation piers have been drilled into the ground, a low concrete wall has been poured around the perimeter of the building, runs of PVC plumbing and venting pipe have been placed, and the working floor, or “mud slab,” is being laid. Every time we go to the site, it looks amazingly different. And starting this coming Monday (12-20), it’s going to look really different — the walls are arriving!

The outer walls of the museum building will be assembled from 89 custom precast concrete sections, built by Stresscon Corporation in Dacono, Colorado. We’re using precast wall sections for several reasons: they are environmentally friendly, they last longer than other construction methods, and they provide an array of beautiful finishes to choose from. Assoc. Director Jason Wolvington and I are heading down to Stresscon this morning to watch the first batch of wall sections being loaded on flatbed trucks for delivery on-site Monday. When they arrive Monday, a giant crane will unload them and they’ll be welded onto the foundation wall. Over the next three weeks, the new museum building will look like it’s literally rising up from the ground.

Stayed tuned for updates and photos. Keep an eye on our Flickr site for photos, follow us on Facebook, and check out the panoramic photos of the construction site that we’re posting on our website. And as always, if you have any questions about what’s going on, please don’t hesitate to ask!


New Museum Update: Groundbreaking!

by Katie Bowell, Curator of Cultural Interpretation

We’ve had many new museum updates to share over the past year, but this Saturday is our biggest one yet: we’re breaking ground on the new museum, and you’re invited!

What: The Official Groundbreaking Ceremony for the new Fort Collins Discovery Museum

When: Saturday, September 11th, from 2:00-5:00

Where: The site of the new museum, at the corner of Mason St. and Cherry St.

Family activities for all ages are scheduled from 2:00-3:30, and include clay brick making, architectural food structures, solar cookies and homemade root beer.

The Colorado State University Color Guard will post the colors at 3:15, follwed by the Official Children’s Groundbreaking at 3:30. The first 1,000 children will receive a commemorative Fort Collins Discovery Museum Groundbreaking shovel! Following a short presentation, the Dignitaries’ Groundbreaking will begin at 4:15. All members of the press are invited to attend a press conference at 4:30. Festivities will conclude at 5:00 with a presentation by Colorado State University Native Drum Group, Ram Nation.

We are so proud to belong to a community that has been supportive and encouraging about this project, and is as excited as we are to watch it become a reality. We hope you can all join us in celebrating this next big step in creating the new Fort Collins Discovery Museum.

A visit with Dr. Temple Grandin

by Terry Burton, Digital Media Coordinator

Dr. Temple Grandin (r) talks with Annette Geiselman (l) and Jean Lamm at the Museum

(See more pictures of Dr. Grandin’s visit on Flickr …)

Think back to when you were a kid – what kinds of things fascinated you? Sparked your curiosity? Turned you on to exploring your world? Yes, it was a long time ago, but remembering my childhood fascinations with the space program, dinosaurs, and the ancient past puts a smile on my face. I can still feel the feelings of wonder and excitement.

Getting kids turned on to exploring and understanding their world – that’s one of our core passions here at the Museum. Last week we were honored by a visit from Dr. Temple Grandin, author, animal behavior pioneer, and autism advocate, who inspired us with her own experiences as a scientist and some great advice on engaging kids.

The key, according to Dr. Grandin, is to get kids “turned on” when they’re young. “If you don’t expose kids to interesting things, they’re not going to get interested in interesting things, “ she said. “You’ve got to get them out and take them to places.”

When we shared with Dr. Grandin our plans and ideas for the new museum, she was enthusiastic. “I think it’s just wonderful that you’re building this museum,” she told us. “We have got to get school kids into the museum. The little kids, we’ve got to get them in there, because I can remember visits to the science museum when I was a kid, and, you know, it made a big impression on me.”

We were curious to hear her thoughts on our approach in the new museum, where we will be taking scientific phenomena and hands-on experiences and putting them in a cultural context – bringing in the history side of things and showing science in action. “That makes total sense,” she told us. “That’s a really good point. You’re telling me you’re going to study how gears work. I’ve seen those exhibits where they show you how gears work, but then what do you use gears for? Well, your bicycle is a good example, so why are gears important? – bicycles have them, you’ve got them in the car, too. We need to show how it works in the real world.”

Dr. Grandin is also a champion of hands-on learning. “What we’ve got to do to get kids enthusiastic about science is that we’ve got to expose them to hands-on science when they’re little kids,” she said. “You know there are programs where, even in elementary school, kids can go out and collect water samples and then they can actually be used to detect pollution levels. That’s real science. Third and fourth graders can collect water samples. We need to make science relevant. When I was a child, science is what enables you to go to the moon. I can remember when Sputnik flew overhead and everyone was all revved up about, we’ve got to really learn science because we have to get to the moon before Russia gets to the moon! It motivated the whole country.”

Dr. Grandin’s already busy life – in addition to teaching at Colorado State University, she travels extensively as an animal welfare consultant and a speaker at autism conferences – has become even more hectic since the HBO movie “Temple Grandin” came out (the movie recently was honored with seven Emmy Awards). While acknowledging the many demands on her time, Dr. Grandin said that “One thing I have tried to do is answer all the letters, especially when little kids write in to me. Make sure I answer all of those and tell them to study hard and achieve your dreams.”

New museum update: Two-fer

by Terry Burton, Digital Media Coordinator

We’ve got a double dip for you on this month’s installment of “New Museum Update.” First, we recently launched a whole batch of new website pages that cover some of the highlights of the new museum, including the digital dome, new classroom spaces, and the expanded Archive, among others. Check out these pages to see building schematics, exhibit designs, and architect’s renderings. These are just the beginning — we’ll have more and more to show you as we continue to create this amazing new museum.

To see the new pages, start with “About the New Museum” and then explore the buttons you’ll find on the right. If you have any comments or questions, please let us know!

Second, you may have seen on our Facebook or Flickr pages photos from our now-official construction site. On Monday June 7th the construction fence went up around the site, and since then the construction trailer has been moved in and hooked up with phones lines and electricity. Just between you and me, that construction trailer is bigger than my house! It’s niiiiice. Once everything is in place, they’ll start working on prepping the site for actual construction to begin — soon! See more photos on Flickr.

Construction trailer at the new museum site, June 10, 2010

Go with the flow

by Toby J. Swaford, K-12 Education Coordinator

Cache la Poudre River just east of the Narrows, June 6, 2010 (photo by Terry Burton)

This year’s extended winter season, mixed with the quick onset of summer-like conditions, has created some interesting situations for the state’s rivers. Many are overflowing their banks and seeing a substantial increase in water movement. Measured in cubic feet per second, some rivers have increased their flow from an average of 400 to well over 1,000 cubic feet per second. What’s that mean?

There are roughly 7.4 gallons (28 liters) of water in a cubic foot. Now, imagine seven gallon-sized jugs of milk flying past you in a second’s time; or, if you’re lactose intolerant, 14 containers of whatever it is you like to drink that happens to come in a 2-liter bottle. That’s equivalent to just one cubic foot of water. A rate of 1,000 cubic feet per second; well, let’s just say, that’s a lot of diet soda moving past you.  Factor in that each of these cubic feet of water weighs approximately 61 pounds, and you have a formidable force of movement.

These were just some of the thoughts that went through my mind as my wife and I headed to the Cache la Poudre for a white water rafting trip this last weekend. I was aware of the risks that come with increased water flow, but my curiosity was also at a peak. I needed to experience the true force of the river to further my understanding of not only physics but local history. (Don’t feel too bad for my wife, the trip was her idea to begin with.)

The Cache la Poudre has played a huge role in shaping the development of Fort Collins. Starting as a military settlement along the banks of the Poudre, the soldiers established Camp Collins in 1862 to protect people traveling the Overland Trail. June of 1864 saw several days of heavy rainfall melting off the snow pack in the mountains. According to some reports, the Cache la Poudre became a twenty-foot high “wall of water” that washed away the camp. That fateful flood caused the Army to reestablish a few miles east of their original location, thus creating Fort Collins.

As we build the new home of the Fort Collins Museum & Discovery Science Center, the Cache la Poudre figures prominently into our plans. Not only will the river help us illustrate the history of the region and demonstrate scientific phenomena ranging from biology to physics, the river itself will form a backdrop for the museum property. Watching the banks of the Cache la Poudre swell and overflow a short distance from our proverbial backdoor is, on the surface, a little scary. It’s also an important reminder of the power of nature and its ability to affect mankind, on a variety of levels.

Cache la Poudre River just west of College Ave. in Fort Collins, June 7, 2010 (photo by Terry Burton)

New museum update: Video preview!

by Terry Burton, Digital Media Coordinator

We hope you will dig this brand-new short video about our new museum project. Produced by our friends at the City of Fort Collins Cable 14, the video debuted recently at the Community Foundation of Northern Colorado‘s Annual Celebration of Philanthropy. The architectural fly-through has us really excited — things are getting real, really fast!

Behind the scenes: K-12 Education

This installment of “Behind the Scenes” takes a look at K-12 education at the Museum with K-12 Education Coordinator Toby Swaford.

K-12 Education Coordinator Toby Swaford leads a squid dissection lab

More to Explore: You had a big event last week. What was that all about?

Toby Swaford: It’s the biggest event we do each year; it’s the 4th grade Rendezvous for the students of the Poudre School District. Fourth grade is the year that students in the state of Colorado learn the state’s history, and this event is the culmination of all the things they’ve been learning in the course of the year. It’s a really good way to reinforce what they’ve been studying. And to help us do that we bring in a lot of volunteers from the community, people that are interested and well-versed in so many different aspects of history, whether it be the railroad or the Civil War, handicrafts like quilt making, farm craft, and those people come in and they share their experience and their interests and their passions with those students. And so it’s a nice meeting of different generations and just a good chance to share a lot of different things with the students.

MtE: How many students participate in Rendezvous?

TS: This year it was a 2-day event, it ran on Thursday and Friday, with a total of about 1,300 students over the course of those two days.

MtE: What kinds of reactions do you see with the kids?

TS:  I think the biggest reaction I get from the students is surprise. A lot of them don’t know what they’re getting into and they’re not sure what to expect, and suddenly they get transported to a different place, a different time. We’re not able to bring in an actual train from the late 1800s, early 1900s, but our railmen do such a good job of re-creating the story of the train, whether it be having the students load up a boxcar, or sort mail, and talk about how the trains were used to connect the various towns in northern Colorado to one another, to having the students themselves become the ties and the track and space themselves out and see exactly how the rails were put into place. It’s a lot of fun, it’s very interactive, it’s a really good chance for the students to see what went into creating the world we live in today. The other nice thing to see is how to relate the things of the past to the modern world, whether it be looking at the history of the subject that got us to where we are now, or the science of the subject, the science behind how something like a steam engine works or how a bullet comes out of a Civil War-era rifle, or the math and geometry involved in putting together a quilt. So they really see real-world applications of what they’re learning in school and how those things get used on a daily basis.

MtE: What do you try to accomplish with the K-12 programs here at the Museum?

TS: The majority of the students who come through for the history programs are 2nd grade in the Poudre School District; that’s when they do their local history, and we are a good repository for the story of Fort Collins. So in that case we’re really able to show the students homes of the people they’re learning about, whether it be Elizabeth Stone, better known as Auntie Stone, or Antoine Janis who helped to start the town that became Laporte. But with the addition of the science center coming in, so many things are meshing and gelling into something that’s completely new and very unique. So we’re able to move from a history program about Elizabeth Stone or what going to a one-room school house in 1905 would have been like, that same group of students may then move to an experience of being able to go into the StarLab and learning about our place in the Solar System, or going into a dissection course where they can learn about history in the morning and do a heart dissection or a squid dissection in the afternoon. So what we really try to do more than anything else is to provide opportunities and those experiences students might not be able to get in the classroom. I think that’s the service we not only provide for the students, but for the teachers as well. We’re a really good resource and a really good extension for the classes out there.

MtE: What are you looking forward to in the new museum?

TS: So many things to look forward to in the new museum! I’ve got a pretty good classroom here already in that I’m able to utilize the entire building and courtyard and surrounding environment. But to be in a new facility that’s really designed to be utilized as a museum and therefore an extension of the educational process, to have dedicated classroom space, to have resources like the digital dome–where instead of just pointing out a planet we can do a fly-over of the surface of Mars, really transport the students to another time and another place–I think that it’s just going to be an amazing tool to use to educate and enlighten and get people excited about learning history and science and culture and all the other things we need to know to be the best that we can be out there.

New Museum Update: Tree Relocating

by Katie Bowell, Curator of Cultural Interpretation

Things are really moving along in the planning for our new museum. And when I say “things,” I mean “trees.” In preparation for out groundbreaking this summer, trees that were currently sitting within the new museum’s footprint were relocated to other sites on our property. This way, we get to keep the trees, without having them growing in the middle of our lobby.

Workers use a tree spade to remove the tree (including the roots!) from the ground

The tree is driven to its new location

A new hole is dug, and the tree is replanted

I was lucky enough to get to watch some tree location in action, and what amazes me is how quickly a tree can be moved. From start to finish, this tree only took about half an hour. Now ask me how long it took me to re-pot my marigolds last year…

To see more pictures, visit the Fort Collins Museum & Discovery Science Center Facebook page and look under “Photos.”


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