After 24 public meetings and input from over 300 people, El Paso’s Children’s Museum is coming to life.
The museum’s board of directors unveiled the master plan for Spark on Wednesday evening. Gyroscope Inc., a museum and exhibition design firm, shared ideas and renderings for the various exhibit galleries that will one day educate and entertain thousands of families in El Paso. Three architecture firms will compete to design the new museum. Their concepts will soon be presented to the El Paso community as well as a jury of peers who will vote to determine the winner. The selected firm will partner with a local architecture firm to build the new museum. The finalists are KoningEizenberg Architecture, Snohetta, and TEN Arquitectos, all internationally recognized organizations.
“Public input from over 300 voices strongly supported a focus on STEM (Science Technology Engineering Math), and more specifically, STEAM (STEM+ Arts),” read a presentation sent to El Paso 411. “The new attraction will be a portal to possibilities beyond, a place to dream big and discover anything is possible. Unique and iconic visitor experiences will emphasize imagination, creativity, and innovation while strengthening process-oriented 21st-century skills such as collaboration, critical thinking, and cooperation, necessary for today’s workforce.”
Spark will be located in the heart of the downtown arts district, in place of the former Greyhound bus maintenance station. In the presentation, nine zones of interactive exhibits complete the approximately 40,000 square foot building, in addition to maker spaces and art studios, classrooms, program areas, temporary exhibitions space, café, and retail spaces.
Four exhibits were presented, including a whimsical three-story climber and a fantastic water play exhibit on the roof. The project, a part of the $473.2 million historic 2012 quality of life bond election, will come to reality in 2018 when workers break ground and will open in 2020, although dates may change. We’ll keep you posted on updates. See below for descriptions and renderings.
• Whimsical, out-of- the-ordinary and unexpected, the three-story Anything’s Possible Climber invites visitors to defy gravity, work together to control moving parts, affect colors through movement, and explore in an imaginative, vertical adventure.
• Embracing universal design, the Climber provides opportunities for all ages and abilities to problem-solve with their bodies, exercise their sense of direction, take safe risks, and build confidence to try new things.
• An early childhood area at the base allows parallel play for the youngest visitors, while caregivers monitor the exit route for older children.
• Out-of- the-ordinary takes on El Paso connections are inspired by innovations ranging from the aerospace industry to ways of scaling the Franklin Mountains.
•The design encourages visitors to dream big and question what is possible.
• Dramatic interactions with weather from around the world to harness the sun, wind, and rain energy in unexpected ways.
• Visitors design and build an immersive Weather City in weird and wonderful ways to meet challenges of temperature, rainfall, wind speed, humidity and location.
• Children report on the weather location to set the challenge and then power the grid through a variety of hand and bike generators, encouraging predictions of cause and effect.
• Wind Face is a slow mo’ selfie station to record visitors’ faces in different wind conditions from around the world.
• A quiet area explores rainbows creating a magical place to re-charge, take a time out, decompress.
• For birth to 3 years-olds and their caregivers, Desert Bloom provides a wide range of sensory experiences from very active to very quiet
• Themed around the Chihuahuan Desert, the ‘blooms’ are connections to the spectacular display in the local environment as well as impressive developmental changes in blooming babies and toddlers.
• Sensory sandscape uses colored light to amplify the patterns and textures of children’s sand play.
• The crawl-through Velcro cacti represent a few of the 1500 species found in the local desert. Children attach descriptive tactile words and different animals while activating sounds.
• An undulating landscape of dunes is a place for practicing gross motor skills and a gathering space for cuddling, crawling, rolling, climbing
• An overhead butterfly mobile represents pollination of desert blooms, leading up to a book nook-a calm area for reading, rest and a recharge
• Within the gallery space are facilities for nursing, snacks, diapering, hand-washing, and
plenty of stroller parking
• Situated on the rooftop, this indoor/outdoor zone has a spectacular location for a range of experiences playfully connecting to the sky.
• An iconic airplane shade structure keeps things cool and sets the tone for thinking outside of the box! A dramatic visitor experience and a one-of- a kind event rental space!
• Agua Beta challenges visitors to move water uphill, engineer a whimsical irrigation system, and trigger a tidal wave on the digital screens.
• Manipulate locks and dams to move boats up river.
• Colored light, reflections and bubbles make playful connections with the sun, surroundings and the sky.
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