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Sunday, Jul 21, 2024

Children’s Museum Adds More Room for Kids

TOURISM: $2M Renovation Includes Maker Spaces, Gallery

SAN DIEGO – The New Children’s Museum is undergoing a $2 million renovation that will include adding a ceramics studio and new maker spaces expected to appeal to children in their teens.

Elizabeth Yang-Hellewell
Executive Director
The New Children’s Museum

“It’s beautiful. It’s filled with light,” said Executive Director Elizabeth Yang-Hellewell.

“There’s great accessibility points from outside of the museum, and it’s going to enable us to have classroom space for school group visits, classroom space for our well-attended and well-loved toddler times,” Yang-Hellewell said. “It’s going to give us the opportunity to provide high quality, artist-led making opportunities.”

Designed by Rob Quigley, the 50,000-square-foot building at 200 W. Island Ave. in 2008 replaced a converted warehouse that had been the museum’s home since 1993, when it moved from its original location in a La Jolla shopping mall.

The museum changed its name from the Children’s Museum/Museo de los Ninos to The New Children’s Museum when it moved into the new building.

“It’s architecturally stunning,” Yang-Hellewell said. “The Children’s Museum is such a special place, it’s magical.”

The renovation will add 8,600 square feet of room for exhibits and activities by converting administrative offices and other back-of-house space, moving those functions to behind-the-scenes locations in the museum.

Green Room

The architect who designed the renovation, Jim Brown of Public Architecture, said that the renovation “is going to bring new user groups into the museum.”

“Where the administrative offices were, we created just kind of makers’ space, plenty of tables and floor space to spread out on,” Brown said. “It’s going to be amazing. Teenagers will love to see this space. It’s going to be really cool.”

Jim Brown
Public Architecture

The ceramic studio will include six pottery wheels, a kiln, a drying table and outdoor workspace on a 1,000-square-foot deck that had been used only for special events, Brown said.

“Now, it will be used every day,” Brown said.

A smaller balcony off of what will be the ceramics studio is being transformed into what Brown called “a green room” festooned with various plants.

“We turned it into a world of green. There’s enough room for one or two kids to go out there and sit down and be enveloped with green and maybe learn a little about potting and plants,” Brown said.

Also added as part of the renovations was an “urban art station where kids can experiment with spray paint inside a well-ventilated room,” Brown said.

All of the renovations are to the interior, with no structural changes to the building, Brown said.

“One of the main things that we needed to do on this project was protect and cherish the original architecture of the building,” Brown said, calling the museum “one of Rob’s (Quigley’s) greatest achievements in San Diego.”

Although most of the renovation was to the top floor of the building, Yang-Hellewell said that about 2,600 square feet of ground floor space is s being converted into a new gallery and multipurpose room.

“We’re going to work with artists to put in full-scale, immersive installations in that space,” Yang-Hellewell said.

The parts of the museum that are being renovated will open for member preview events in August and to the public in September, Yang-Hellewell said.

Yang-Hellewell said that one of the most popular parts of the museum is the Rosso Family Foundation Innovators LAB, a makers space added in 2020 that explores the intersection of art and science.

“It’s a 6-and-up space, so you have to be 6 years old, in order to participate in those workshops and in the free-making time and it is space that fills up immediately,” Yang-Hellewell said.

As popular as it is, there was only room for about 15 people, but the renovation is expanding the Innovators LAB to have room for about 150 people, Yang-Hellewell said.

The New Children’s Museum
HEADQUARTERS: downtown San Diego
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR: Elizabeth Yang-Hellewell.
BUSINESS: museum
WEBSITE: www.thinkplaycreate.org
CONTACT: 619-233-8792
NOTABLE: In 2023, The New Children’s Museum celebrated its 40th anniversary with 15 years in downtown San Diego


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