Posts Tagged 'New museum'

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!

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!


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

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!

New museum update: the Digital Dome Theater

by Terry Burton, Digital Media Coordinator

One of the most exciting things we’re planning for the new museum, from my point of view, is the Digital Dome Theater. A digital dome theater is like the groovy love-child of a traditional planetarium and an IMAX theater: take a planetarium, with its ability to display shows in 360 degrees, and blend it with an IMAX theater with its stadium seating and all-digital projection and sound system, and you’ll start to get the picture.

We’ve had the digital dome in our plans since the early days of figuring out what this new museum is going to be. With ground breaking coming up in just a few months, I started recently to get serious about researching what this was actually going to mean for us. Starting from absolute scratch, I quickly realized that we had a whole lot to learn — everything from the steel and concrete considerations of architecture, to racks of workstations and digital projection systems, to understanding all the possibilities for the kinds of shows we can run in our dome. Associate Director Jason Wolvington and I have been on a crash course ever since, and I can tell you even at this early stage, it’s going to be an amazing ride!

We were very fortunate to get connected with Dan Neafus, who runs the Gates Planetarium digital dome theater at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science. Dan is a real guru in the world of digital domes (also known as “full domes” or “immersive theaters”) and we’ve made a couple of field trips down to Denver to start absorbing this new world of technology. Dan has taken us behind the scenes at Gates to see the nuts and bolts, and really helped us get our arms around this thing.

Dan Neafus (second from left) of DMNS walks our staff through some architectural considerations for the digital dome theater

WAY behind (or above) the scenes at Gates Planetarium

What sorts of things can you do with a digital dome? For one thing, there’s a great catalog of movies available, designed for the 360 degree environment. Many of these shows are about astronomical subjects, a reflection of the digital dome’s roots in the world of planetariums. But there are also shows about Egyptian mummies, ancient sea creatures, the African Serengeti — a variety of subjects, with new shows being produced all the time.

A digital dome theater will also allow our Education staff to do live, interactive science presentations, literally zooming through the Universe to land on Mars or to explore the heart of the galaxy. They’re pretty excited about that!

Best of all, for me, is that we’ll have the opportunity to create our own original content to show in our theater. We’ve produced several short documentaries here at the Museum over the last couple of years, and we’re really looking forward to having this incredible new way to share the stories of our local area.

Bottom line: we are so thrilled to imagine such an amazing resource here in Fort Collins. Stay tuned.

New museum update: Take the tour

by Jason Wolvington, Associate Director

Have you seen the exhibit in the Museum’s lobby about our new museum project? If not, stop by and check out preliminary sketches of the new building, renderings of some of the new exhibit spaces, and the beginnings of our layout on the new site! Every day sees changes to the project, so we’ll be continually updating the exhibit to reflect current designs and sketches.

And don’t forget:  we’re on track to break ground on our new building this summer! Stay updated on our progress with this blog and on our website at www.fcmdsc.org/newmuseum.html.

Bringing science and history together

by Terry Burton, Digital Media Coordinator

Maria Mortati  posted  a great piece yesterday in the “Museums Now” blog about the process we’re going through to bring science and history together in our new museum. Maria is one of team members at Gyroscope, Inc., the group that’s designing the exhibit experiences that will, I guarantee you, knock people’s socks off when our new museum opens. If you’d like to see some of the very interesting and multi-layered thinking that’s going on as we design this new facility, see “Relevance and Wonder, Science and History” in Museums Now.

What’s in a name?

by Terry Burton, Digital Media Coordinator

If you’re keeping up with our blog, you now know that we’ve selected the design/build team which will create the physical home for our new museum. We’ve been working for over a year with our exhibit design firm, Gyroscope, to create the experiences that will reside inside that building. A tremendous amount of work has already gone into the process of creating a brand-new museum from the ground up, and we’ve still got a lot of challenging and exciting work ahead of us.

But creating a new museum isn’t about us — it’s about you. You may live in Fort Collins or the surrounding area and plan to visit us often; you may be an out-of-town guest who will come see us infrequently; or you may be someone who visits our website or blog but never steps foot inside the new building. Regardless, this museum is for you.

So we want to ask you to help us do some of the work to make this new museum a reality. Specifically, we’d like your thoughts on what we should call ourselves.

Let me back up for a moment and give you a refresher: the Fort Collins Museum & Discovery Science Center, as we are known now, came from the partnership of two leading Fort Collins institutions: Discovery Science Center, and the Fort Collins Museum. We entered into a public/private partnership to build a new museum, one that would combine hands-on science and the culture and history of our region.

Here are a couple of other tidbits to help you think of the perfect name for our new museum: our mission is to “create meaningful opportunities for people of all ages to learn, reflect and have fun through hands-on and collections based explorations in science and culture.” Our vision is “to inspire inquisitive thinkers and encourage responsible stewardship of the past, present, and future.”

Most of all, we want our new Museum to be a place where people not only come away with understanding, but are inspired to action.

That’s who we want to be. Now, can you help us figure out what to call ourselves? Just leave a comment to this post with your ideas, and read other people’s ideas too. And stay tuned — developments with the new Museum are really going to take off in 2010. It’s going to be a great journey.

New Museum update: Design/build team chosen

by Beth Higgins, Public Relations/Development Coordinator

The Fort Collins Museum & Discovery Science Center is pleased to announce the selection of Hensel Phelps Construction Company with OZ Architecture as the Design/Build Team for the new Fort Collins Museum & Discovery Science Center facility.  Plans for the new facility, located on the corner of Cherry and Mason Streets, include a Digital Dome for presentations, a Learning Lounge, a seamless experience combining science and culture, and plenty of outdoor spaces to take advantage of the prime location along the Poudre River and the bike trail. The project is scheduled to break ground in late 2010.

The selection of the architect has been a long-anticipated milestone in the development of our new facility. In 2002, the Museum and Science Center began conversations about how to better serve the Fort Collins and Northern Colorado community. The Partnership was formed, and in 2005 voters approved Ballot Issue 2A, Building on Basics, providing $6 million in tax revenue to partially fund construction and seven years of operations and maintenance of the new facility. This past summer, the Discovery Science Center relocated to the current Museum building, and science and history exhibits were combined as we began developing content and themes for the new facility. The new Museum will focus on the mission to create meaningful opportunities for people of all ages to learn, reflect and have fun through hands-on and collections-based explorations in science and culture. Visitors to the new Museum will experience hands-on science and culture exhibits; artifact exhibits; narrative experiences; play and discovery opportunities; learning lounge, workshops, and archive experiences; guided nature, cultural, and integrated site tours; Science + Culture Cafes, lectures, workshops; archive & collections training; and visitor-contributed exhibits.

To date, the project has secured over $19 million through grants, donations, community support and corporate support. “We still have a way to go in fund raising,” adds Steve VanderMeer, Board President of the partnership’s Non-Profit Corporation. “Our goal is about $24 million, which we hope to secure by the time we break ground.”  Grants awarded by the Gates Family Foundation, the Downtown Development Authority, and the Boettcher Foundation have made a significant difference in funding and will help the partners reach this goal. “But we are still looking to the community to help us reach the full amount,” notes Mr. VanderMeer. “The support we have received so far is astounding; it is evident how important this project is to the Northern Colorado community.”

We hope to break ground in the second half of 2010, with construction completed in late 2011. The Fort Collins Museum & Discovery Science Center plans to hold several public charrettes to collect input about the new facility. For more information about the project or how you can help, please call Annette Geiselman or Cheryl Donaldson at the Fort Collins Museum & Discovery Science Center, (970) 221-6738.


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