Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Science Center Raising Funds for Expansion

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Science Center Raising Funds for Expansion

Article excerpt

Twenty-five years after it first opened, the Carnegie Science Center on the North Shore plans an expansion of STEM programming and the construction of a three-story Science Pavilion, expected to begin this fall and open in 2018.

A $34.5 million fundraising campaign was announced Tuesday night to pay for those projects and other upgrades.

Although the center draws more than 500,000 people a year, it could handle many more with additional space, said Jo Ellen Parker, president and CEO of Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh.

"It's a place where children experience how much fun it is to do science," she said. "They learn how much fun it is to experiment, make things, and have fun doing it. To make it available to more children is what we're most excited about."

The new structure, which will wrap around the existing Omnimax Theater and face the Ohio River, will contain 6,000 square feet of learning labs and above that a special exhibitions gallery, at 14,000 square feet, designed to hold large, traveling exhibits.

Construction of the nearby Allegheny light-rail station closed down space previously used for exhibitions, such as "Bodies" and "Titanic" in 2007-08.

Since then, the center has had to pass on exhibits such as "Cleopatra," "Da Vinci" and "The Science of Pixar," which instead go on to Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. They require a large gallery, climate-controlled systems, staff and support, said Ron Baillie, science center co-director.

The science center is expected to manage crowds, even without an expansion of parking space, Ms. Parker said, adding that the light- rail system is popular with visitors.

"People don't realize we're the most visited museum [in the area]," said Ann Metzger, also co-director. "We expect that visitors could go up as high as 50 percent."

The public launch of Spark! A Campaign for Carnegie Science Center aims to add to the $26.5 million support already pledged by 120 foundations, corporations and individual donors.

The largest gift of $5 million was promised by the DSF Charitable Foundation to fund the special exhibitions gallery.

Ms. Metzger said more programming in science, technology, engineering and math will take place in the learning labs. …

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