SAN MATEO, Calif., Oct. 23, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- CuriOdyssey announced today they have received landmark contributions totaling $19 million* to create a "world-class, serious science playground" in San Mateo. Comprising more than 50 percent of a projected $35 million campaign goal, these leadership gifts ignite CuriOdyssey's plans to modernize and completely remake its building, vastly increase its usable space to triple exhibit and public spaces, and expand its wildlife and science educational programs.
To inspire others to support CuriOdyssey's new capital campaign, TomKat Charitable Trust, who already donated a campaign leadership gift of $5 million, announced a challenge grant to match all new and increased donations up to a total of $2 million.
CuriOdyssey plans on allocating $24 million of the campaign funds towards renovating the main building, expanding usable space within the existing footprint, creating an outdoor natural play area and landscaping the surrounding site. The remaining $11 million will fund educational programs, exhibit development and partnerships with local schools. "Our region is renowned as a hub for science, engineering, innovation and creativity - we need to equip our children with the critical thinking skills to take on their future," said Executive Director Rachel Meyer. "I am confident the community will join us in raising the remaining funds to create a premier, serious science playground and give more kids the power of real science. Teaching kids science early on gives them the power to take on real-world challenges now and in the future."
Campaign co-chair Linda Lanier stated, "For more than six decades, CuriOdyssey thrived with the support and foresight of individuals dedicated to creating an outstanding environmental education museum on the mid-peninsula. This same generosity and commitment to our mission will be pivotal for our plans to offer unparalleled opportunities for kids to touch the power of science and learn to care for our environment."
Founded in 1953 by San Mateo County Junior Museum Auxiliary, the museum rebranded itself in 2011 as CuriOdyssey. This move catalyzed growth in the museum's audiences, educational programs and exhibitions. During the past eight years, CuriOdyssey's annual average attendance has grown from just under 70,000 to approximately 150,000 annually, and the exhibit collection has more than doubled to 48 works, including a mobile program. Educational programs (including public school field trips and free programming for underserved schools and groups) now serve more than 100,000 children annually. In addition, CuriOdyssey has developed one of the most sought after science camp programs in the community for young children.
Today, CuriOdyssey is expanding to accommodate the demand for more high quality science learning opportunities for children from all backgrounds. This project will enable CuriOdyssey to expand its role within the region as one of the leading science education centers in the Bay Area and beyond.
After a comprehensive design competition and review process, CuriOdyssey's board selected the award-winning, Bay Area architectural firm, Fernau and Hartman to design the new CuriOdyssey. The firm has an established reputation for combining design excellence and technical innovation. In keeping with CuriOdyssey's environmental origins, the firm has been a leader in "green" design since the first wave of interest in sustainability in the seventies. Fernau & Hartman projects - whether office interiors, barn renovations, or free-standing structures - begin with a concern for the environment. The final plans reflect a close collaboration between the museum and the architects to create an environment conducive to scientific exploration by kids and their families.
About the Project
CuriOdyssey aims to transform itself into the ultimate serious science playground. The newly designed building will allow for more capacity, camps, exhibits and school programs, and it will offer new experiences such as a field station and a large outdoor natural play area. These renovations will take CuriOdyssey from a community treasure to a world-class institution.
"CuriOdyssey is sixty years strong and began a transformation process eight years ago. We now have a proven track record for championing children's discovery of natural phenomena," noted Rachel Meyer. "With more than 100,000 young visitors in the past year, we have outgrown this building and now need to adapt it to meet current public demand and to engage and serve future generations. This redesign reflects our commitment to excellence in education and to giving kids unparalleled science and wildlife-based experiences." The redesign will create:
- Twice the number of classrooms: Currently the museum has adapted two spaces into classrooms that simply cannot meet the demand placed on them. With four classrooms in the new CuriOdyssey, the museum can accommodate many more school programs and grow summer camp programs by 50 percent. Each classroom will be readily accessible to the outdoors and have moveable features and furniture to allow for flexible learning environments.
- Three times the amount of exhibit space: Today CuriOdyssey has a small collection of 48 exhibits awkwardly squeezed into its lobby, courtyard and corridors. The new CuriOdyssey will house a collection of 100 exhibits, allowing much more coverage of scientific theories in captivating ways.
- Field Station: The second story of the building will sit at the canopy level of the surrounding trees, eye-level with the wild birds. The new CuriOdyssey will take advantage of this rare vantage point with an observation space.
- Large outdoor natural play area: An expansive play area will offer kids a naturalized place to safely explore, clamber over boulders and play among the trees.
CuriOdyssey is a serious science playground dedicated to giving more kids the superpower of science. We believe kids learn about science and animals best out in the world and not behind a desk or a screen. By encouraging kids to think like a scientist early on, they will be prepared to take on the challenges of the future. Science education is more important than ever, and we want to give it the attention it deserves. That's why we made it our goal to change the face of science education, one kid at time.
Note: *$19 million includes a conditional $2 million Challenge Grant from the TomKatCharitable Trust