A few lucky families in San Antonio got the chance of a lifetime this weekend to preview the new children's museum debuting next summer. It'll be called The Do Seum because it will be focused on kids who will be doing things to learn.
As parents showed up with their kids in tow, Senior Marketing Manager Cristina Noriega extended a heart-felt welcome.
"Thank you so much for coming," she told the crowd.
Because the building, the only space in San Antonio that Noriega bragged will be just for kids ages 0-10, is still very much under construction, the museum staff and Guido Construction Company, under the direction of Cosmo Guido, agreed to hold this one day of tours. Guido said the museum couldn't wait to take people around and show them what's in store. For better or worse, Guido laughed, he said he would comply.
The Do Seum will feature 65,000 sq. ft. exhibit space across three buildings, upstairs and down, on a 5.5-acre plot. There will be 30,000 sq. ft. of outdoor exhibit space, which includes an East Yard with a children's river and tree house, and a West Yard that focuses on motor skills.
Noriega said The Do Seum will bring up an entirely new generation.
"I'm so excited, as a mom, about what this is going to mean for our kids," she said. "I'm a native San Antonian. I grew up going to the Witte and having those wonderful memories, and the zoo and places like this. And now a new generation of kids are going to grow up having this wonderful experience."
Inside, Noriega explains that the exhibits will be all hands on. The popular HEB exhibit from the old space, and Powerball Hall that's at the front of the current museum, will be coming back but will get a makeover. The airplane will be back, too, but will be redesigned to be bigger and handicap accessible.
There's a ton more cool new stuff, said Noriega, but she said she couldn't reveal all of the new exhibits. They are being built now and will be installed starting later this fall.
"And everything is based on STEM plus the intersection of arts and literacy," she said. "As you know, STEM is science, technology, engineering and math, but we also think it's important to connect that to the creative arts because so many schools don't have arts programs anymore. And a lot of kids, that's the way we learn."
To encourage kids to walk up the stairs, Noriega did reveal that kids will be enthralled with a musical staircase. The news drew an audible reaction from the parents with a collective: "Aww."
"How many of you have seen the movie 'Big'?" she asked to draw a similarity between the famous piano scene in the toy store to the musical staircase.
What's even cooler for Guido is all the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) components. The building will produce 30% of its own energy, he said, and recycled Coke bottles will make for quite an entrance and be featured around the landscape.
"We're using that glass as part of one of the landscaping site features that'll have LED lights run through it," said Guido. "It's kind of that soft green blue glow that's kind of at the grand entrance of the museum as you drive in. It's really an inviting effect."
Plus, with 20% of construction waste filling up landfills in the U.S., Guido said 98% of construction waste here is being recycled.
"When you look at what this site used to be, it was an old car dealership," Guido told the parents. "There were some nasty things in the ground that we pulled out. There's a lot of underground foundation we really kind of cleaned up."
The challenge has been keeping on schedule, said Pam Hannah, VP of operations.
"Guido Construction has been fabulous in keeping pace with the demands of construction," she said. "I believe we have a lot going on but we're organized, we're ready."
With all the fun going on, even during construction, The Do Seum opens its doors next June and promises to make quite an impression.
One more perk of The Do Seum that the museum staff is so excited to share: there will be free parking on site! The last day at the current Children's Museum downtown is March 31.
The Do Seum opens in June 2015.