- November 12, 2014
Science buffs and curious minds of all ages could be enjoying a completely overhauled GWIZ by the holiday season. The 33,000-square-foot science museum, which emphasizes hands-on learning, will undergo significant renovations in an attempt to better meet the demands of the community and its visitors.
When Sara Rankin Wilson took over as CEO of the one-of-a-kind Sarasota museum in May, she and the new board of trustees sent out a questionnaire to GWIZ’s online subscribers to gauge the community’s satisfaction with the museum.
“The response was overwhelmingly similar across the board,” said Miranda Spinner, director of media and communications. “The community felt that some of the exhibits were outdated, and, frankly, we agreed. Some of our exhibits hadn’t been updated in more than a decade. GWIZ is going to take a nap, take a bath and come back wearing a new party dress.”
In response to the survey results, Rankin Wilson and the rest of the board decided that the situation called for a complete remodel of GWIZ and its exhibits.
The renovations, which are currently in the preliminary stage, will break the center into 10 zones, with themes including geography, dinosaurs, outer space, the Gulf Coast, science and math. The remodel will largely focus on meeting STEM education, or Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, initiatives.
Within each zone, visitors will find modernized versions of exhibits, which will now be referred to as AIDEs, which stands for Adventure, Imagine, Discover and Explore.
GWIZ expects to incorporate more than 120 of these AIDEs into the new museum, and they will include a variety of interactive displays, including a CT-scanned model of a human head that can be explored layer by layer, a giant game of Plinko, dinosaur kiosks, as well as visitor favorites such as Mindball, in which participants use their brainwave measurements to move a ball.
“We wanted something more modern,” said Spinner. “But our hands-on interaction will never change.”
GWIZ is also asking the general public for help in funding the project and is offering AIDE naming opportunities for interested donors.
Tuesday, Sept. 4 marked the first day that GWIZ closed its doors to the public, and Spinner says she anticipates Murray Homes and Osprey Property management to begin construction soon. As for a completion date, she says construction projects are always unpredictable, but that they aim to be open in time for the holiday season.
“This creates a brand-new vision for GWIZ,” said Spinner. “We hope to move forward, become more modernized and continue with STEM education. There’s no telling how incredible we’ll be in three years.”
Contact Nick Friedman at [email protected].
HOW TO HELP
Community members interested in donating to help fund the renovations can visit GWIZ.org or indiegogo.com/gwiz.