Oct 042010
Authors: Erin Udell

The Fort Collins Museum and Discovery Science Center, originally called the Pioneer Museum, opened its doors in 1941, bringing a passion for local history to Northern Colorado residents.

Now, nearly 40 years after its original move to the historic Carnegie Library building in 1976, faculty and staff members of the museum and science center are patiently awaiting the completion of the new museum building, a state-of-the-art facility, scheduled to open in January 2012.

After cementing a partnership with the Fort Collins museum in 2008, the Discovery Science Center moved into the museum in June 2009. This created a unique union that allows visitors to look at historic museum artifacts while also enjoying the hands-on aspect of the science center, according to Annette Geiselman, the DSC’s executive director.

With the combination of the two facilities in one building, space became tight.

The 46,600-square-foot facility, which is being built on the corner of College Avenue and Cherry Street will give the museum and Discovery Science Center 10 times more space for exhibit expansion.

“We’re very excited,” said Sierra Tamkun, a 20-year-old junior graphic design major and museum employee. “We have a huge collection and no space to display it, so we’ll be using a lot of that.”

The new museum will include 135 exhibits within 11 exhibit themes, including water, local history, music and energy.

As well as the expanded exhibits, the museum will feature a digital dome, a large, 360-degree theater that will present educational shows and movies about science, history and different cultures.

“In the museum, we’re going to have something for everyone,” Geiselman said. “We approach content informally and in a fun way.”

The total price tag for the museum’s face-lift is $25 million, though only $21 million has been secured thus far. Private foundations, individuals and corporations throughout Colorado have donated more than $9 million.

State funding totaling $6 million makes up a part of that budget. Voters approved a sales tax increase in 2005 to provide the public contribution.

With cutbacks being made to ensure the city’s economic health, some Fort Collins residents have questioned the amount of money being spent on this new construction.

Since voters authorized the use of $6 million, the money cannot be used for anything besides the museum construction, said Fort Collins City Manager Darin Atteberry.

With resounding support from public and private sectors, Geiselman is confident that the new museum will become a lasting focal point of Fort Collins for generations to come.

“We’re building a building that will be around for 100 years,” Geiselman said. “We’re only going to get one bite out of this apple.”

City Council Beat Reporter Erin Udell can be reached at news@collegian.com.

  • What: Fort Collins Museum and Discovery Science Center
  • Where: 200 Matthews Street
  • Hours:
    Tuesday – Saturday: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
    Sunday: Noon – 5 p.m.
    Closed Mondays and holidays
  • Admission:
    Adult: $4
    Senior (ages 60 ): $3
    Child (ages 3-12): $3
    Children 2 & under: Free
    Members: Free

*About the new museum:
*Where will it be? On the corner of College Avenue and Cherry Street
*When will it open? January 2012

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