Striving to connect the community at large with educational play — that’s the goal of the new DoSeum in San Antonio TX. The $47 million, 104,000-square foot project boasts 6 large exhibit areas and 2 traveling exhibit spaces across 3 buildings, with 5.5 acres of land and a visible water recirculation system. All this is more than enough to foster the “doing” environment of the DoSeum and the project has been highly praised since its opening in June 2015.
The project was highly collaborative, from initial investment to design concepts to final actualization. Vanessa Hurd, the director of the museum, intended the DoSeum to be a “permanent institution, a fixture in the San Antonio learning landscape…[with] teachers and school communities to help empower their efforts and to help provide learning opportunities” (San Antonio Current). Indeed, more than 6 months after opening, the University of Texas San Antonio’s College of Education and Human Development Department began partnering with the museum to bring educational research to the community.
Our client and exhibit designer Argyle Design developed each individual area of the museum to focus on teaching kids while they “do.” From a puppet parade to the spy academy to imagine it, visitors get hands on and active in every corner of the museum. To complement architect design details, colored lights were placed where they would echo lighting shade coloring. Each exhibit combines high- and low-tech interactives, from Google Maps and animation technology to hands-on lighting elements and a miniaturized town, providing ample opportunities for unique lighting elements, including lasers, blacklights and fiber optic lighting. In one room, colored LED wave lights and animation discs blend to mimic water, allowing children to explore the deep sea, then magically converts to a grassy summer lawn, then into a punishing Mars landscape, all at the touch of a button. The Spy Academy required careful details, including framing projectors shining through grids on climbable vents to dramatize the children’s experience. Throughout the museum, fixtures required careful focusing to blend the high- and low-tech features of each exhibit, minimizing screen or camera glare and enhancing the hands-on experience for every visitor.