The Children’s Museum will be an integral part of the educational ecosystem of our community. We will be, first and foremost, an educational institution, open to every member of the community. Exhibits will have no instructions because there are no wrong ways to interact with them. The new museum will be specifically designed to maximize open-ended and imaginative play and exploration.
The Children’s Museum will be a true community asset, among the best children’s museums in the nation, but designed especially for El Paso.
The museum will be located in the heart of El Paso’s Downtown Arts District and is currently scheduled to open its doors in late 2022.
The Story Behind the Cloud
On October 1, 2020, the El Paso Children’s Museum leadership and award-winning international architects from Snøhetta unveiled the final designs of the world-class, one-of-a-kind building during the groundbreaking at the museum’s location at 201 W. Main in downtown El Paso.
The building’s singular geometries immediately set it apart from the El Paso skyline. The base is wrapped in glass, providing enticing interior views. The building is topped by a rippling succession of barrel vaults that soar to a cloud-like crown, like the clouds that hover over the El Paso borderland.
Snøhetta’s design provides ample outdoor public amenities, such as streetscapes, gathering areas, and gardens, which are influenced by the Chihuahuan desert.
The first floor is a warm, light-filled open space, and includes exhibitions, a café, and the entrance to the learning landscape. The 60-foot atrium offers views of a spectacular climbing structure that spans the second to the fourth floors, with pathways that accommodate multiple forms of access and mobility needs.
Windows and lookout points provide introspection and eye-popping views of the Franklin Mountains to the northeast and Sierra de Juarez Mountains to the southwest. Elaine Molinar, partner and managing director of Snohetta, will be engaged with The Children’s Museum’s design and architecture. We are very proud that she is a native of El Paso and Coronado High School graduate.
Creating Learning Spaces
Gyroscope Inc. is an award-winning, museum planning, architecture, and design firm that specializes in emerging museums and cultural organizations undergoing change. They have built a reputation as a highly imaginative firm with projects spanning a wide spectrum of internationally respected museums and science centers. Gyroscope recently completed exhibit design for the Louisiana Children Museum, Papalote Museo del Niño in Mexico City, the Thinkery in Austin, TX, Minnesota Children’s Museum, and MOXI: The Wolf Museum of Exploration + Innovation in Santa Barbara. They are known for pushing the envelope and have won awards for both design excellence and family learning.
Gyroscope is currently working with the El Paso Children’s Museum from master planning to opening, designing, and developing their Visitor Experience and Exhibits to create high impact STEAM interactive experiences to stimulate imagination, creativity, innovation, and life-long learning. The new Museum will be a portal to possibilities beyond, a place to dream big and discover anything is possible.
Anything’s Possible Climber
The 50-foot climber is a gross-motor exploration that encourages visitors to test their physical and problem-solving limits. Surprising features and patterns are hidden throughout, with opportunities to capture progress through the climber. It will be an iconic, “wow’ experience, including a wheelchair challenge course on the 4th level.
Visitors become weathercasters, engineers, sea captains, and astronomers as they learn to predict the weather, engineer an earthquake-resistant structure, harness renewable energy, or navigate a research vessel through a storm.
Our youngest visitors (birth to 3) will have a dedicated area to safely roll, crawl, walk, and run. Inspired by the Chihuahuan Desert, it has a large program space, tactile and gross-motor activities, a wobbling web, and a sensory light-art sandbox. Auditory interactives have been designed for babies and toddlers to practice speech sounds, such as “oo,” “ee,” “ah,” “sh/ch,” and “mm.”
Follow Your Instincts
Targeted at ages 4 to 7, this zone invites children to explore animals through dramatic role-play and to think about careers with animals. Children can use their imaginations to build forts and create environments, including a glow-in-the-dark cavern, to bring stories to life. Exploring careers as veterinarians, children can use a video microscope, MRI, and X-ray reader to diagnose and treat their animal patients.
Design, build, and launch paper airplanes in a giant test flight path over the Franklin Mountains. Analyze your flight data and try again to avoid turbulence, updrafts, and crosswinds. Record your angle at takeoff, refine your plane’s design, and figure out how to hit the “Star on the Mountain” target.
This zone offers a multi-sensory exploration of sound waves, music, and instrument making. Visitors can program a giant marimba, feel the music through a vibrating platform, and record their own music videos.
Transform everyday experience into science. Giant toilets, dishwashers, showers, and sinks are really siphons, vortexes, pumps, and simple machines. This indoor/outdoor zone will include windows into the pump room to showcase how the water is being treated and recycled, emphasizing water as a precious commodity. And you can get wet.
Visitors explore a variety of engineering challenges, from designing and testing cars and boats to coding a giant LED cube and using 3D printers and laser cutters in open-ended maker activities. The exhibits and programs are platforms for challenges that provoke creativity, innovation, and learning through perseverance.
Name the Children’s Museum
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And remember, while most museums are quiet, formal, hands-off places, modern children’s museums are social, bright, and interactive!