THE NEED• Research shows that children who are exposed to scientific inquiry skills at an early age demonstrate higher academic achievement later in life• Children who participate in high quality early learning opportunities are less likely to require special education classes; repeat a grade; participate in criminal activity; to depend on public assistance; and are more likely to enroll in college and be employed as adults• Birmingham does not have a dedicated pre-kindergarten learning museum• Most of Birmingham’s authorized pre-kindergarten programs rarely can afford to send their students to a place like McWane Science Center or the proposed The Birmingham Children’s Museum• McWane Science Center’s past successes with early childhood exhibits have proven there is a hunger for a set-aside pre-kindergarten learning space
THE PLAN• To build the finest hands-on pre-kindergarten learning environment in the southeast• To meet the crucial developmental needs of early learners (Pre-K)• To create a 10,500 square foot, dramatic, open-ended learning environment• To be a vital resource for parents, grandparents, and teachers, pre-K programs and caregivers• To develop engaging educational programs and teacher training workshops• To enable every pre-kindergarten program, authorized by the Department of Human Resources, to attend at NO COST, provided that: • The program is located in the city limits; • The teachers in the program first attend a training course on how to use the Birmingham Children’s Museum; • The teachers agree to take a science kit back to their classrooms in order to reinforce the lessons learned at the Birmingham Children’s Museum.
THE BUDGETFacility Preparations $2,000,000.00 1. Architecture & Engineering Fees 2. 2nd Floor Demolition and Construction 3. Elevator Addition 4. Furnishings & Fixtures 5. Facility Automation Improvements 6. Upgraded Security System 7. Parking Deck Improvements 8. Gated Entry/WayfindingExhibits $3,000,000.00 1. Stroller Parking/Entry Gate/Icon 2. Physical Play 3. The StageLight & ColorSound Garden 4. Bubble Play 5. Water Play 6. Construction Zone 7. The Ball Zone 8. Main Street Climbing Structure Toddler Zones 9. Messy Art Studio 10. Classroom/Birthday Party Room 11. Resource CenterTOTAL $5,000,000.00
FACILITY PREPARATIONSIn order to house the 10,500 sq. ft. Birmingham Children’s Museum and serve the roughly 500,000annual visitors McWane Science Center anticipates in the wake of the new exhibit’s opening, a numberof major facility renovations must take place. Based on estimates from contractors, these renovationswill total approximately $2 million.Costs include: 1. Architecture & Engineering Fees: McWane Science Center will work with the KPS Group (a Birmingham-based company) to design and plan the building renovations. We have already had extensive preliminary discussions with them about the project. 2. 2nd Floor Demolition and Construction: The eastern half of McWane Science Center’s 2nd floor will house the Birmingham Children’s Museum. This 10,500 sq. ft. space will need extensive renovations including demolition of existing structures, installation of new spandrel glass windows, new flooring, lighting, plumbing, electrical, HVAC, and new walls and barriers to delineate the Birmingham Children’s Museum space. Brasfield & Gorrie (a Birmingham-based company) has been selected for this project based on their familiarity with the McWane Science Center’s physical plant and their excellent reputation on such projects. Brasfield & Gorrie has already provided a number of estimates for the project. 3. Elevator Addition: The increased attendance that will result from the Birmingham Children’s Museum construction will require a third elevator bay to serve our visitors. Brasfield & Gorrie has priced out an estimate for this addition and will build and install a new elevator shaftwall and new car. 4. Furnishings & Fixtures: As with any large construction project, there will be substantial furnishings and fixtures that need to be purchased. These items include owner furnishing for Art Studio, Parenting Resource Center, seating for visitors and the office. 5. Facility Automation Improvements: Our current building automation system which operates on Windows 95 is obsolete and needs to be upgraded in order to effectively operate, monitor and respond to the physical plant needs for HVAC control, lighting, and hot water system for the increased attendance. This upgrade also includes features that will control utilities more efficiently for this growing demand while providing facility staff a cost effective and timely means for making adjustments and reducing utility costs. 6. Upgraded Security System: McWane Science Center’s existing security cameras and monitoring stations are out-of-date and in need of expansion. With the increased visitation from the Birmingham Children’s Museum and the increase in very young children at the museum, an up- to-date security system MUST be installed. 7. Parking Deck Improvements: New lighting and signage is necessary in the Parking Deck in order to best serve our large number of visitors. In addition, a new parking entry/exit system must be purchased to replace the existing system that is no longer supported. 8. Gated Entry/Wayfinding: A gated-entry turnstile system for the Birmingham Children’s Museum will allow staff to effectively monitor and control visitor access. Additional improvements at other exhibit hall entrances will also greatly enhance security. Our overall wayfinding system will be entirely revamped in order to minimize lost children and increase visitor flow efficiency.
MUSEUM EXHIBITSMcWane Science Center expects the Birmingham Children’s Museum to be the finest early educationalexperience in the region. In order to achieve this goal, McWane plans on building and installing a widevariety of first-class exhibits to serve our Pre-K visitors and their families. McWane’s talented Exhibitsand Education teams are working together to develop the exhibitry and have visited and contactedmany other children’s museums throughout the country to determine which experiences will best serveour patrons. Because much of the exhibitry can be designed and built in-house by the McWane team,we anticipate that our total costs (including labor) will fall below the industry standard of $300/squarefoot. For the 10,500 sq. ft. exhibit, we anticipate the exhibit costs to total approximately $3 million.The Birmingham Children’s Museum exhibits will include: 1. Stroller Parking/Entry Gate/Icon: Visitors will enter the Birmingham Children’s Museum through a dramatic, vibrant entry gate that “feels” like you’re walking into an entirely separate building. Once inside, ample stroller parking will abound, allowing caregivers to securely park their belongings and explore the interior space unencumbered. A giant, fun “icon” will serve as a wayfinding structure and will point out the various areas of the Birmingham Children’s Museum while also serving as an obvious meeting point for groups and families. 2. Physical Play: A large section of the Birmingham Children’s Museum will be devoted to exhibits encouraging physical play, active learning, and collaboration. Our youngest visitors are just learning how to engage with the physical world and this area will encourage them to run, jump, climb, and work together to conquer physical challenges. 3. The Stage: A section of the Birmingham Children’s Museum will be dedicated to “dramatic play” where our visitors can stage productions involving singing, acting, dancing, or even a puppet show! The Stage will also be used for adult-led activities like book readings, singalongs, and storytelling. 4. Light & Color: Exhibits in this section will focus on light, shadow and color. A variety of highly open-ended exhibits will explore these concepts in a visually dazzling way. 5. Sound Garden: Opposite the Light & Color area will be the Sound Garden with a focus on exhibits that explore melody, noise, pitch, timbre, and musical instruments. It will be a fun, noisy, and highly collaborative area. 6. Bubble Play: All children love bubbles and a Bubble Play area is a must for any children’s museum. Our Bubble Play area will contain a variety of bubble-focused exhibits including a “Step Inside a Bubble” exhibit and a number of free-play tables where visitors can make their own bubbles. 7. Water Play: Few exhibits excite young children more than water-play exhibits. Our Water Play area will have a host of interactive experiences that will allow visitors to manipulate streams, pools, and vortexes of water.
8. Construction Zone: Lots of blocks, an unfinished “house” to build and decorate, and kid-sized construction equipment will define the Construction Zone. This area will allow children to explore the built world with a huge variety of manipulatives and varied terrain.9. The Ball Zone: A true “icon” exhibit, the ballroom will consist of a giant, kid-powered ball machine with a myriad of tubes, wheels, pulleys, and spirals. The ball machine will focus on motion, movement, and cause and effect and will be a huge draw for visitors.10. Main Street: Role playing is the focus on Main Street where visitors will work in and visit a number of scaled-down shops. A diner, garage, pet vet, and other businesses will all set out their shingles on Main Street so that children can let their imaginations run wild.11. Climbing Structure: A large, exciting, but highly safe and secure climbing structure will be part of the landscape at the Birmingham Children’s Museum. Visitors will be able to challenge themselves by climbing through the nets and platforms to see how high they can go in this visually open, intricate structure.12. Toddler Zones: Throughout the Birmingham Children’s Museum will be a number of small “Tot Spots” for our earliest learners. These safe, soft, secure areas will be filled with various textures, colors, and manipulatives for those visitors just learning to interact with the world.13. Messy Art Studio: An art studio where anything goes, the Messy Art Studio will encourage kids to fingerpaint, mix liquids, draw on the walls, and do all of the fun stuff they can’t do at home. The area will be program-driven and will be run by our experienced Education staff. New experiences and activities will occur every day in the Messy Art Studio.14. Classroom/Birthday Party Room: The Birmingham Children’s Museum will include a large space for early educational programs and for birthday parties for our young visitors. These secure, well-lit, brightly-colored spaces will house fun and exciting educational programs led by our Education staff as well as raucous, but well-organized birthday parties and events for children.15. Resource Center: We believe caregivers as well as children should learn something at the Birmingham Children’s Museum so we are constructing a Resource Center stocked with plenty of material about interacting with children and engaging in play with them. The Resource Center will also have a small kitchen and tables to provide snacks or have a calm, quiet moment, as well as a private nursing station for infants and mothers.
INFRASTRUCTURE UPGRADESThe installation of the Birmingham Children’s Museum will require a number of facility upgrades to bestserve our young visitors. These facility upgrades will be added by trusted vendors in conjunction withour highly talented Operations staff. We anticipate total costs of these upgrades to total $750K based onestimates from vendors. These security features will include: 1. Upgraded Security System: McWane Science Center’s existing security cameras and monitoring stations are out-of-date and in need of expansion. With the increased visitation from the Birmingham Children’s Museum and the increase in very young children at the museum, an up- to-date security system MUST be installed. 2. Parking Deck Improvements: New lighting and signage is necessary in the Parking Deck in order to best serve our large number of visitors. In addition, a new parking entry/exit system must be purchased to replace the existing system that is no longer supported. 3. Gated Entry/Wayfinding: A gated-entry turnstile system for the Birmingham Children’s Museum will allow staff to effectively monitor and control visitor access. Additional improvements at other exhibit hall entrances will also greatly enhance security. Our overall wayfinding system will be entirely revamped in order to minimize lost children and increase visitor flow efficiency.