Have you seen that super tall fantasy tower surrounded by waves of curvy walls going up on Lower State Street and wondered what is that thing?
Santa Barbara meet MOXI. For you guys who want it all spelled out: MOXI is the Wolf Museum of Exploration + Innovation and it’s about to become one of the most distinctive additions to the Santa Barbara skyline.
We had a sneak peek today of the work in progress and here’s the big news: It’s about science, interactivity, and the F word – as in Fun. Fun as in get interactive, get smart, get your mind blown and even get wet. And it’s not just for kids.
The 17,000-square-foot space is one of the most anticipated developments in Santa Barbara in the last decade and will be the county’s first LEED-certified museum. Initially designed by the late architect Barry Berkus before his passing as a Children’s Museum for younger folks, AB Design Studios has picked up the ball to transform the original drawings into a full-fledged Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts, and Math Museum for everybody where every square inch of it is going to be interactive.
“When you enter MOXI you enter an environment that will compel you mentally and physically to interact,” said Steve Hinkley, the new CEO and guiding light for the Museum. Hinkley comes to MOXI after seven years as vice president of programs at the Perot Museum of Nature and Science in Dallas, Texas. He’s also had the glorious job of teaching middle school and high school in Dallas and Los Angeles for ten years. If there’s one thing he’s learned it’s to keep the fun in.
“It is much easier to get the brain to go where the heart is going,” Hinkley said
Located between the train station and Hotel Indigo on the edge of the Funk Zone in the midst of the myriad construction projects nearby, the three-story tower is easy to spot. The rooftop will afford one of the best views in Santa Barbara and one of the largest and tallest top floor patios in the city. A major feature of the program will be direct collaborative efforts with the innovative technology and nonprofits of Santa Barbara.
“Santa Barbara, pound for pound, is an innovative dynamo,” said Hinkley. “There are world changing companies, right here in Santa Barbara and MOXI gives them a chance to tell their story.”
The museum’s footprint has been leased from the City of Santa Barbara under a 50-year $1-per-year deal and MOXI is doing everything it can to ensure there are no physical, financial, or cultural barriers to participating. That includes bilingual graphics and a diverse staff, which is fitting for a museum built a historic patch of ground that was the seat of Yanonali the Chumash Chief.
Their quiet fundraising campaign is now a public one. They’ve raised $20.4 million of the $25 million committed, which will ensure outreach, ticket discounts, and long-term sustainability.
The museum isn’t ready to open their doors yet, but they want everyone to know that the strange building at the end of State Street just might be a launching pad to a whole new way of learning where accident, trial, and error and fun are all an essential part of the mission.