The San Diego Children's Museum is getting a new place to play.
The museum, situated on West Island Avenue in downtown San Diego, will be completely rebuilt on the same block. Demolition is scheduled to begin Nov. 1, and if all goes as planned, the new facility will open in early 2005.
The new San Diego Children's Museum, shown here in an artist's rendering, will feature a cafe, interior atrium, glass elevator and "saw tooth" roof structure with solar paneling.
"That gives us a little over two years" without a physical space, said Jennifer Case, deputy director of the San Diego Children's Museum, in a recent interview. "That could be perceived as a daunting or negative experience, but we chose to turn it into a positive one."
The museum isn't going on hiatus. Instead, it will begin "Museum without Walls," a roving arts program.
"We're taking what we do best -- art -- into the community," said Case.
Museum without Walls will provide hands-on art activities, educational programs and performances directly to the community through local festivals and fairs, schools, libraries, shopping centers and public facilities. Judging from its preliminary interim schedule, said Case, the museum's impact on the community may actually increase during the museum's period of "homelessness."
The museum's construction is part of a redevelopment partnership with Canadian developer Pinnacle International. Pinnacle plans to build a 35-story, 182-unit luxury condominium at the site of the current museum. Standing over 450 feet at completion, the approximately $150 million Children's Museum Tower will be the tallest residential building in San Diego. The deal gives the museum funding to cover much of the $12 million cost of its new three-story facility, to be built above the tower's parking garage.
The Children's Museum has launched a capital campaign to help fund the construction project and set up an endowment. More than $13 million has been raised to date, said Case. The museum is looking for a total of $25 million through a variety of channels, from corporate naming opportunities to individual tile purchases.
The new building will total approximately 53,000 square feet, nearly doubling current capacity. The edifice, designed by Rob Quigley, will feature a cafe, interior atrium, glass elevator and "saw tooth" roof structure with solar paneling. Also included will be a 1,920-square-foot art studio, kilns, a performance space, six indoor and two outdoor interactive galleries and a museum store.
More than 100,000 people visit the museum each year, said Case. "We anticipate that with the new facility that will more than double," she added.
While some items from the current structure will be retained for the new space, much of it will go. The museum is offering adoption options to the local and international museum communities. Artwork will be on loan or permanently placed in other museums including the Museo del Sol in Mexicali, the Centro Cultural de Tijuana and local children's museums located in Escondido and Poway. The organization is also looking to place some of its pieces in civic and retail sites.
The rest of the items will be for sale. "We're planning the largest garage sale ever," said Case.
One piece that will make the move is the museum's 1954 Ford truck. An unconventional canvas for museum visitors, the truck is a perpetual work in progress, and its appearance changes daily. Also making the move is the museum's double-decker bus from England. The bus is stocked with books from the downtown public library.
The museum's final in-house event will take place Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. "Fiesta Mexicana" will celebrate the history and culture of Mexico through art exhibits, workshops, performances, games, food and crafts. Surrounding streets will be closed to accommodate vendors.
Workshops in Aztec Codex Books, maracas, papel picado, pi-atitas and Mexican tin drawings will be offered throughout the day. Special ballet folcl-rico performances by the Tijuana-based children's group Primo Tapia and San Diego's Centro Cultural de la Raza will be showcased. Mexican-themed puppetry performances and workshops will be offered by the San Diego Guild of Puppetry in conjunction with Canticuentos Mexicanos, the Circo de Marionetas and South of the Border Tales. Also not to be missed is San Diego's own Taco Shop Poets, performing a set of original poetry.
While many of the workshops and performances are geared toward children, Case insists the museum isn't just for kids. "Because we're called the Children's Museum, most people perceive that it's for kids, but we're here to serve kids of all ages," she said. "There's grandparents or parents doing art with their kids or doing their on own art side by side with their kids."
And that interaction, she said, is what the museum is all about. "We love weaving magic like that."