Well Worth it

Monday 03 Oct 2011

Re-design of twentieth-century museum creates a child-friendly focus

The Fort Worth Museum of Science and History is located in Fort Worth's Cultural District amongst very important 20th-century architecture, such as the Kimbell Art Museum by Louis Kahn, the Modern Art Museum by Tadao Ando and the Amon Carter Museum by Phillip Johnson.

The original Fort Worth Museum of Science and History was built in 1954, later completed by the addition of the Noble Planetarium in 1955 and then the Omni Theater in 1983, which has been preserved and integrated into the new building complex and connected by the Omni Link.

The relationship between the existing site elements was an important design concern. Visitors access the new building by passing a tree-shaded plaza that connects to the main entrance and also to the Cowgirls Museum designed by David M. Schwarz. The plaza is overtopped by a main emblematic tower/lantern, signalling the entrance to the Museum.

The New Facility consists of several components which interact constantly with each other. An important element is the Museum School, since the educational part of the exhibitions is a strong statement. Spacious and illuminated classrooms are facing a courtyard.

Other elements of the architectural programme are the Experimental Studios, ExploraZone and an outdoor DinoDig. Furthermore there is a Children's Museum, as well as pleasant outdoor areas such as a terrace, pergola area, reflected pool and a shadowed courtyard, which provide the opportunity to entertain the youngest visitors of the Museum.

The design process focused on creating spaces that are easy to understand for children and accessible for school groups. Other main spaces of the Museum are the large open spaces that house the Dinosaur Collection, ExploraZone and the Energy Exhibition, additionally the Cattle Raisers Museum, a Temporary Exhibit Area and the Fort Worth History Exhibition which is integrated into the circulation space to give the visitors a unique experience.

There is also a new Noble Planetarium linked to the Cattle Raisers Museum. Besides the Exhibition areas, there are Commercial areas such as a Restaurant, Retail Store and a Special Events Space which is adjustable to diverse programmes. There are two office areas; Museum School Offices and Executive Offices.

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