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San Fernando Children's Museum To Finally Open PDF Print E-mail
Written by Alex Garcia   
Thursday, 27 March 2014 04:00

A. Garcia / El Sol

The shiny structure with glass walls that has sat empty for years next to the Lake View Terrace Library at the Hansen Dam Recreation Area is finally getting some life.

Stalled for years, the San Fernando Children’s Museum will open later this year, giving youngsters a fun and educational place to go and bringing a major attraction to the northeast San Fernando Valley.

“We are opening Nov. 22. We think it’s going to be very exciting,” said Dan Nasitka, spokesperson for Discovery Science Center, the Orange County facility that will manage and operate the Children's Museum.

“We’re [showing off] all the great things we do here to the San Fernando Valley. We’ll focus on science, technology, engineering, math, environmental science for early learners, primarily children five and under.”

He added a major announcement regarding the leadership and exhibits at the Children's Museum will be made next month. Long Process The idea for the museum was proposed back in 2000 with an estimated cost of $10 million. But the price quickly ballooned to nearly $50 million. By 2007, the building with glass walls and slanting roof finished construction.

Then, in 2009, the Los Angeles Children’s Museum (which would have run the San Fernando Museum) went into bankruptcy and the City of Los Angeles took over. But depleted municipal coffers prevented the opening. The Los Angeles City Council finally approved $11.8 million towards the museum last year.

Nasitka said they’ve also received additional money incentives to raise the museum's funds to $22.4 million.

If Los Angeles officials did not fill the Lake View Terrace building with a museum by 2015, the city could have lost millions of dollars of grant money.

The talks between the City of Los Angeles and Discovery Science Center, a museum that is easily identified by the “cube” shape on its top one sees while traveling along the I-5 Freeway in Santa Ana, began soon after the L.A. Children’s Museum went into bankruptcy.

Last year, Discovery Science Center received the National Medal for Museum and Library Center, the nation’s highest honor for such institutions. It’s the first time a California facility has received the award.

Important And Popular Exhibits

The Center has held important exhibits, including one about “Star Wars,” and another on the Indiana Jones movies. Nasitka said the Center reaches an estimated 200,000 people through the museum and its outreach programs, and presents science lessons to local schools, which they plan to replicate in the Valley. “We are bringing a museum to an area that doesn’t have anything like that. This is exciting because now kids won't have to travel to L.A. or Orange County to visit a children's museum," Nasitka said.

In the next several months, Nasitka said contractors will be hired to make the interior modifications to the building needed to accommodate the exhibits that will be placed there.

Jeff Woodruff, a La Tuna Canyon resident and outgoing member of the Foothill Trails District Neighborhood Council, which oversees Lake View Terrace, believes the museum is a long overdue.

"I think the science center is a good thing. It needs to open and serve the public. The kids need to have access to a museum, especially since we promised it," Woodruff said. He said he’s seen some of the proposals for exhibits at the museum, which will be geographically centered. "The water conservation will incorporate horses and there's talk of working with local ranches," he noted.

He said the museum will attract “positive traffic to Hansen Dam,” where visitors have complained lately of an increasing presence of homeless people hanging around near the playground and library, that are right next to the building that will house the museum. “If [families and visitors show up in large numbers], the shady element goes away,” he said.

Last Updated on Thursday, 27 March 2014 04:05