I am truly in awe as I watch the transformation that San Antonio has undergone since I was a bright eyed child of the 80’s and 90’s. San Antonio was known for, well, the Alamo and Tex-Mex. Sure there was the River but it was kind of limited. Sure there were parks but it could get pretty hot in the summers. Sure there were museums but they weren’t really designed for kids until the San Antonio Children’s Museum came along in 1995, a little past my time to enjoy it.
When my family and I moved back here four years ago, I was excited by the city that I discovered. I expected the Alamo and Tex-Mex but what I found was a city that had an emerging food and beverage scene attracting exciting chefs and opening new concepts. I found the expansion of The San Antonio River to include beautiful scenery, running paths and connecting key elements of downtown. I found revitalized districts like Pearl, King William and Southtown and an focus on making our downtown one worth going to more than just once a year on a school field trip. And I heard about a number of new projects coming to San Antonio in coming years.
But one of these projects stood out for me and that was a new children’s museum. I have become increasingly more excited as I have learned about this project. I’ve watched the erection of the buildings that will serve as the new campus on Broadway. I attended the unveiling of the museum’s new name, The DoSeum. And I’ve kept up with the project through museum news and events hinting at what this hands-on learning project will be about. But nothing got me more jazzed than taking a tour of The DoSeum as a member of Movers, Shakers, Doers on a beautiful Saturday morning: stepping in the buildings and yards, walking the layout and hearing step-by-step what this new location for the San Antonio Children’s Museum will be. And after seeing this space first hand, I dare to say San Antonio will, without a doubt, have a children’s museum that can compete as the best in the country.
I made my way down Broadway for the tour and one of the first things that is obvious as I pulled on to Humphreys Avenue from Broadway is the amount of parking that The DoSeum will offer: 243 parking spots on their parking lot and an obvious difference from the downtown location and one that parents often grumble about.
As museum goers approach The DoSeum, it’s hard to ignore the enormous and absolutely beautiful oak tree that will serve as an icon for the museum. Special care was taken to preserve this century old tree, along with second tree that will sit in the East Gardens. The oak tree weighs in at over 200,000 pounds, required a special lift (used quite often for heavy duty machinery in the oil fields) to move it and was preserved, along with it’s monstrous root ball for over a year after being initially dug up.
As my eyes turn from the oak to the building itself, I was impressed with the architecture of Lake Flato. The building is over 65,000 square feet of indoor space and a total of 95,000 square feet including outdoor space. I love how the design element was described as “a connection of indoors to outdoors. You are never far from outside…never too far from reengaging with nature.” The large windows that will offer picturesque views of the East and West Gardens throughout The DoSeum have been designed with much care and consideration.
During our tour, children were welcome to attend and the staff of the Children’s Museum hosted them in what will-be The DoSeum Gift Shop. In true hands-on-learning style, the kids were entertained by becoming mini-architects and “building their own children’s museum” with pipe and cloth.
The Lobby and Entry are large, expansive spaces, perfect for welcoming large groups or keeping school groups separate from individual DoSeum patrons. As we continued through the Entry towards the permanent exhibits, we passed by a staircase and the Cafe, complete with a hand washing station and Cafe kitchen. Off of the Cafe is a large patio where families can enjoy the fresh air. The patio looks out on to the second oak tree that was preserved and moved to the future home of the East Garden, serving as a sensory and reflection area. The oak tree shade will host story times and give children a cool spot to play outdoors.
On the opposite side of the Cafe, the West Yard will serve as home to an outdoor Gross Motor Skills area, an outdoor Water Works center, an Art Studio and Yard and an entire area focused on Bubbles…because really, what kid isn’t completely entranced by bubbles? Along Broadway and enclosing the West Yard will be a glass rock wall with LCD lighting that will serve as a beautiful piece of art. At night, the lighting will change colors, bringing a point of focus along Broadway and will soon be a signature to San Antonio.
We continued our tour moving from the Cafe into the first exhibit space. Little Town will be a center for the smallest San Antonians, complete with a new HEB shopping experience and other highlights so minis can act like mom and dad out and about in San Antonio. As all of the permanent exhibits will, there is an educational highlight to Little Town focusing on literacy. Across from Little Town is the Spy Academy where kids will hone their math skills for problem solving. Imagination Station just behind Spy Academy will be the area where kids can let their minds go free.
Moving on with our tour, we came to the Traveling Exhibit Gallery. The DoSeum will offer 60% of fixed exhibits and 40% that can be changed. The Traveling Exhibits will be home to engaged learning which is a new concept for The Children’s Museum. Sensations Studio, highlighting tactile play, sits at the most southern region of the first floor of The DoSeum.
We made our way upstairs to see the home of Innovation Station, which will focus on engineering and Explore, home to the geography and social studies learning of The DoSeum. And for those that have a small pang of nostalgia in their heart for the San Antonio Children’s Museum, have no fear! Upstairs will also house the ever popular Powerball arena, even bigger and better than before, as well as the airplane, skid loader and trolley that serve as centerpieces in the San Antonio Children’s Museum.
The Do Seam is on track to being a LEED certified building, will use recycled water, a 255 kilowatt solar panel for energy production and 98% of the trash produced through construction is being recycled. How’s that for environmentally friendly?
The DoSeum building is set for completion by October 2014. Exhibit work will begin at that time with 6 months time being reserved for ensuring the space is just right for kids and The DoSeum is set to open June 1, 2015.
Don’t miss your chance to rack up the memories at the San Antonio Children’s Museum which will close Spring 2015. They have a number of great summer camps, as well as their regular calendar of activities set for the coming months.
We can’t wait to welcome The DoSeum to San Antonio for parents and kids alike!
I was part of this tour through my membership in Movers, Shakers, Doers. Membership in Movers, Shakers, Doers gives privileged access to events, showings and information about The DoSeum, as well as membership to San Antonio Children’s Museum. To become a member of Movers, Shakers, Doers and be a part of The DoSeum, visit www.sakids.org/doers. And “like” The DoSeum’s new Facebook page to keep up with all of the latest news!