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Tuesday, May 03, 2005 | On May 11, the CCDC Real Estate Committee is scheduled to hear the recommendations of the CCDC Children’s Museum Ad Hoc Subcommittee. Bruce Hartman is the marketing director of the San Diego Children’s Museum.

Over the years, the San Diego Children’s Museum has provided a sanctuary for kids and kids at heart. The Museum had meager beginnings, started by community members in a strip mall in La Jolla and eventually landed in an old downtown warehouse. Since closing its doors two and a half years ago, the museum has had to relocate its onsite charter school, the Museum School, and work harder than ever to maintain its visibility in the community.

You may have seen the Museum’s mobile arts activities at community events across the county, or you may be one of the many San Diegans who until now, has forgotten that the museum exists.

During the Museum’s transition, more than $14 million has been raised to fund construction of its new facility, a state-of-the-art 50,000 square foot building and adjacent park in the Marina District of downtown.

When open, families and children of all ages will benefit from new and expanded hands-on opportunities to learn, explore and create through the arts. The new facility will offer a performing arts theater, atrium for special events, more galleries, a new café, underground parking, and an expanded arts studio area. In addition to providing a home for San Diego’s children and families, the Museum will serve as a cultural, educational and economic resource for San Diego. With added technological features, the Museum will be able to host major local, national and international touring exhibitions and events. The facility will also be available for rent to the public, offering a unique setting and playful environment for special events. The Museum Charter School, a nationally recognized San Diego charter school, will occupy the lower level of the building and will take advantage of state-of-the-art classrooms and labs as well as all of the museum’s programs and exhibitions.

“The Muse,” as the Museum is been called, utilizes environmentally friendly architectural and infra-structural practices, including recycled building materials, proposed solar panels for electric generation, water-saving devices, natural delighting and convection cooling. It is considered downtown’s first major public “green” project.

The award-winning architectural firm of Rob Wellington Quigley FAIA has ensured that the design plays nicely with its surroundings and uses state-of-the-art techniques to minimize the drain on the environment. Wellington Quigley is also the architect behind the design for the new public library.

Immediately across from The Muse and accessible by a mid-block crossing, will be a one-acre Children’s Museum Park which will be part of the City’s Martin Luther King Jr. Promenade. It is designed by landscape architect Martin Poirier, of Spurlock-Poirier, who designed the Getty Museum’s gardens in Los Angeles. The triangle-shaped park will include three shade-covered play spaces, for both day and evening activities; a Martin Luther King Jr. commemorative work by Roberto Salas featuring five bronze hands that spell “dream” in sign language; and sculptures by Tijuana and San Diego artists.

The Museum’s presence will enhance the local economy by serving as an amenity to support tourism. The new San Diego Children’s Museum is expected to directly increase sales at local hotels, restaurants, entertainment venues and retail merchants.

Bruce Hartman is the marketing director of the San Diego Children’s Museum.

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