After six years of planning and construction, the Bay Area Discovery Museum in Sausalito opened the last of five new exhibits as part of a $ 20 million renovation.
The museum, which caters to children from infants to 10, is already seeing crowds comparable to pre-pandemic levels after the latest new exhibit opens on Labor Day weekend, Kelly said Monday. McKinley, CEO of the museum.
“The five new exhibits are based on the most recent research on child development,” McKinley said.
“They include specific ways for children to grow and learn while having fun.”
McKinley said the project improves half of the indoor space and a significant portion of the outdoor space on the 2-1 / 2-acre site at the foot of the Golden Gate Bridge.
Seattle-based architectural firm Olson Kundig designed the renovation, which has been built in phases over the past three years.
“With this project, the museum’s audience is effectively expanded to include visitors of all ages,” said Alan Maskin, director of design at Olson Kundig.
For example, Maskin said, he saw people climbing on the outdoor exhibit “ranging from a pair of twins who will soon be 3 and a grandmother in her late sixties.”
“How many times do these two groups have a common experience that both of them are passionate about?” ” he said.
In addition, he said, the renovation “revitalizes several old unused or underused military structures on the Bay Area Discovery Museum campus.”
It also redesigns multiple exhibits – including new environments for infants and toddlers, STEM learning labs that introduce young visitors to the latest design and engineering technologies, and a new ‘rope course’ and an outdoor climbing structure nestled in a eucalyptus grove, ”he said. noted.
The $ 20 million renovation was funded by $ 19 million in donations, mostly from private foundations, corporations and individual patrons, donors and trustees, according to McKinley.
“The only time we closed for the pandemic was in March 2020,” McKinley said. “We opened the outdoor section in August 2020 and have been open ever since. “
Before the pandemic, annual attendance was around 400,000 people. That figure fell in 2020 to around 180,000, McKinley said. She said the numbers were coming back quickly this fall with the completion of the renovations.
Masks are mandatory indoors for everyone and are optional outdoors – although most families wear masks outdoors, McKinley said.
“We are very aware that not all of our children who attend are vaccinated,” McKinley said, referring to the fact that vaccines are currently only available for children 12 and older. “Our staff are 100% vaccinated.
Inside the new spaces, architects and designers worked to incorporate natural materials, such as wood and cork, to stimulate a forest and bay in the Tot Spot, an exhibit for infants and all- small.
“As children crawl, walk and weave their way through these visually striking exhibits, they develop essential language, motor and socio-emotional skills,” said Marlene Chen, project manager for Olson Kundig, of the Tot Spot.
The two outdoor exhibits – Gumnut Grove, a network of tree climbing trails; and Faith, a renovated former salmon fisherman, are designed for the senses. Children around 5-10 years old can touch, smell, see stunning images, develop motor skills, be mentally challenged, and play.
Parents are allowed to accompany the little ones on the climbing structures.
“They venture through the treetops on these intimidating but rewarding climbing structures while honing gross motor skills, exploring risk and developing confidence in a safe environment,” said Roderick Wyllie, Design Director at Olson Kundig.
Troller Faith was drafted from Bodega Bay, McKinley said.
“Children can use their imaginations to jump on a wreck or on the high seas,” McKinley said.
Two other new areas in the interior section are How Things Work, which reveals the inner workings of everyday objects, and Try It Studio, which develops skills in science, technology, engineering, art, and math – or STEAM.
“These predominantly analog experiences help children develop the digital literacy they need to be successful in our increasingly digital world,” Janine Okmin, museum director of learning, said of Try It Studio.
General admission to the museum is $ 19 per person. But McKinley said the museum, which has operated in the Bay Area for about 30 years, participates in at least 10 regional programs that allow free or reduced admission for families with limited resources.
The museum has a “high priority” in making quality early childhood education accessible to everyone, including generally underserved families, McKInley said.
A membership program is also available which includes unlimited visits.
The museum’s opening hours are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday to Sunday. Information and tickets are online bayareadiscoverymuseum.org.