In time, maybe we will simply call it ‘The Do,” and children throughout South Texas will clamor to go there. The child in every parent will be teased out, too, by the colorful campus, artfully designed buildings and the many interactive exhibits that will beckon the visitor.
The San Antonio Children’s Museum is still more than a year away from opening its new 5.5-acre campus at 2800 Broadway St. at the corner of East Mulberry Avenue, but today is the first big public party celebrating its coming transformation. It’s all happening across the street at Lion’s Field Park from 11 a.m.-2 p.m.
Anyone who drives Broadway south of Hildebrand has watched in recent weeks as a blank canvass bulldozed out of a former auto dealership has quickly given way to a puzzle of shapes and colors that have seemingly landed from space on the landscape across from Brackenridge Park.
With the new home set to open June 2015 comes a new name: The Do Seum. It’s a change intended to communicate this will not be a traditional museum – a set of buildings where art is curated and exhibited. The Do Seum will be a hands-on sensory experience inside and outside.
Museums post signs: Do Not Touch. The Do Seum’s message: Please Touch. Please Experience.
The Do Seum will be more than a new venue. It also will place a new emphasis on interactive science and technology, art and literacy.
What’s really being built is a science, technology and innovation university for children, a place designed to spark imagination, creativity, serendipity and surprise. A place where learning and having fun are synonymous. A place children will want to come back to again and again, and a place where the inner child in every adult escapes for a while, too.
“We have created a place where children get excited about concepts in science, math, art and literacy, and take that excitement with them into the world,” said Vanessa Lacoss Hurd, the museum’s executive director. “Children learn by doing, so we put doing right in the name.”
The new facility will feature 65,000 square feet of exhibit space, 50% larger than its current East Houston Street facility, and 30,000 square feet of outdoor space with free parking for 240 vehicles.
A crowd of 800 is expected to convene late Saturday morning as the Children’s Museum Executive Director Vanessa Lacoss Hurd and San Antonio’s First Lady Erica Castro welcome families getting their first glimpse of the future.
For three hours, from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. the northern stretch of the campus will be a beehive of outdoor games and fun activities. Tattoo artists will be on hand to brand kid’s cheeks with Do Seum tattoos and other adornments – the kind that wash away with soap and water. Food trucks offering a variety of lunch and snack choices will vie for the attention of children and adults alike.
Erica Castro, both First Lady and school teacher, is serving as the Do Seum’s spokesperson, underscoring Julián Castro’s goal of being the Education Mayor, and her own commitment as an educator and role model for new generations of young Latinas who need to dream big.
The Do Seum itself is the result of some big thinking and ambitious fundraising. Hurd, who came here from Boston with her husband, a San Antonio native, aims to create a national caliber facility that will be ranked alongside the country’s other top children’s museums. The real possibility of achieving that status began with a $20 million gift from H-E-B Chairman and CEO Charles Butt. Hurd said last week that the board and her team are on track, having raised 90% of the $46 million to complete the project.
What will make the San Antonio Do Seum unique is its indoor-outdoor space and design. Other leading children’s museums also are located in or near the heart of major cities and occupy smaller footprints. Lake/Flato Architects has designed a campus that will move children out of buildings and into green spaces and back again, with activities, learning stations and exhibits located all along the way.
Saturday is meant to be a celebration of all that is to come: a new major cultural destination on Broadway within walking distance of Brackenridge Park and the San Antonio River, the Witte Museum, the San Antonio Botanical Gardens, and just a short ride or pedal to the McNay Art Museum to the north in Alamo Heights or south to the Pearl and the San Antonio Museum of Art.
“The Do Seum is the new name of a museum on the rise in a city on the rise,” said Steve Herlich, vice president of advancement for the Children’s Museum.
The word “museum” comes from the Greek “seat of the Muses,” and the Do Seum is a way of saying the same thing in a modern context: A place where children will find, touch and sense inspiration and learning.