With the long-anticipated move to the Durango Powerhouse still months away, the powers that be at Durango Discovery Kids won't wait for a new home to debut the museum's latest exhibit.
An opening reception for "Set Sail for the Deep Sea" will be held tonight in the children's museum's current home at the Durango Arts Center and the new exhibit opens to the public Wednesday.
Museum Director Ashley Hein said "Deep Sea" required a two-week closure while crews from the Jaynes Corporation transformed the upstairs museum from a spaceship milieu to one of undersea adventure.
"Although Discovery Kids plans to move into the
powerhouse and open its doors as the Discovery Museum in 2010, I felt like a new and fresh look in our current location was needed for the rest of our time at the attic space in the Durango Arts Center," Hein said.
The new exhibit features an underwater cave with television monitors showing a variety of undersea creatures. Kids also can climb onto the bridge and steer a ship with a brand new captain's wheel, built by Tom Day, a project manager for the Jaynes Corporation. The company donated materials for the exhibit, as did Riteway Flooring America, and Day worked with a crew of six to eight employees on a completely volunteer basis.
"I've got a 6-year-old son who absolutely loves the museum and he's spent hours crawling, around there," Day said.
"I personally wanted to give back because of what Ashley and the others do for the kids around here. It's been a tight schedule, but we think we've pulled it off. We'll find out tomorrow night," he said, adding that he expects to be working with his crew until the doors open for tonight's catered reception.
The project also gave the workers creative freedom not often seen on a typical job site. Day proposed the undersea idea to Hein and the museum's staff earlier this summer and received an immediate go-ahead.
"It's been a fun process to have that creative freelance when we usually just go from a set of architect's plans," Day said.
The renovations also include a new stairway leading to the bridge and a dramatic dress-up area where kids can don any of a number of costumes and become anything, including a pirate or a doctor.
Hein said "Deep Sea" will be the last exhibit in Durango Discovery Kids' current home. No date has been set for the move to the Powerhouse, but it is expected to take place in the spring or summer of 2010.