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A New Discovery Coming to Fort Collins

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 I grew up in the middle of cornfields – only 60 miles from Chicago, but it was rare for me to be in the big city. In grade school, I remember a particular field trip to the Museum of Science & Industry right before the holidays. The exhibit that captured my attention isn’t exactly what you’d expect at that museum – Christmas trees from around the world. I remember standing in front of a tree representing Greece decorated in blue and white and imagining a faraway place.

 Fast forward 20 years and 11 years living in that big city – trees from around the world is still one of my favorite memories. It sparked my imagination and dared me to dream big…I went back many times over the years to get lost in my thoughts and in the trees. I’ve actually been fortunate to visit Greece twice in my life…and many other places I dreamed about as a kid standing in front of those trees.

Museum Illustration

I was reminded of this experience Monday night at an event at Odells updating the progress of the new Fort Collins Museum & Discovery Science Center, which is set to break ground soon at Cherry and College. What struck me about the museum is yes, it has really cool, unique exhibits, but the spirit of it seems different than other museums I’ve visited. One of the presenters described it as a “hybrid approach of culture and science” – the theme being how historical events and scientific advancements connect to each of our lives.

Digital Dome Illustration

Digital Dome Illustration

Now I’ve always been a dreamer, but there are those places that make you feel introspective and beg you to think about your role in the world. I feel most museums achieve this here and there, but what excites me about the new Fort Collins Museum & Discovery Science Center, is the whole museum is built around this concept.

Here are some of the interesting things I learned about the new museum…  

  • Interact: During the presentation, someone in the audience asked “what’s coolest thing about the new museum?” One of the presenters mentioned the interactive elements. “The idea is, you not only see what something is like, you feel it,” said the presenter. From what I understand, the litmus test for the exhibits and programming will be whether they inspire this connection.
  • Energy:  The building, designed by OZ Architecture and Hensel-Phelps Construction will run on 50 percent of the energy required by similar buildings. The building was also specially designed so you can see some of the machines at work. As one of the presenters put it, visitors will “Get the sense of how pieces interact – see how systems work and are integrated.”
  • Giving back: You’ll be able to see the systems and much more from the free zone, also known as the Observation Deck.  Because the museum has been in the community for century, it wants to give back and make some things free. The Observation deck will offer unobstructed views of scenery including Long’s Peak.
  • Take flight: The exhibit that elicited the most excitement from the panel was the Digital Dome. One of the presenters described it as a hybrid planetarium and Omnimax experience. They emphasized it isn’t just about astronomy – although expect to spend some time exploring Saturn’s rings.  I was excited about the prospect of not just seeing the Grand Canyon, but the experience of flying through it.
  •  Contribute: As a visitor, you won’t just be a viewer, expect to become part of the exhibits. A focus of the museum staff is finding ways to incorporate visitor contributed content. The staff is currently running in-house experiments to come up with ways to elicit response and get people to participate in the exhibits. Have ideas? Share them here and with the museum staff.

 These are just a few of the things you can expect at the new museum. Find more details about the plans on the museum Web site. What museums and exhibits have stuck with you over the years? What would you like to see in the new museum?

 In the homestretch

The museum already has raised $19 million of the $24 million it expects to need for the entire project. There is still a big fundraising push for the digital dome in particular. Contributions of $1,000 or more may qualify for the Enterprise Zone Tax Credit, which permits a 25 percent tax credit.   

I just have to mention, I met two of the planners from Gyroscope Inc., a company that helps museums build exhibits and solicit all of the necessary components. They also help capture the unique personality of the museum and community in which it operates. In my opinion, these guys have a pretty cool job. Thank you to Annette Geiselman, Executive Director and Cheryl Donaldson, Director of the Fort Collins Museum who answered a lot of my questions and who have obviously poured their hearts into this project. Here is a link to information about all of the designers involved in the project:

Outdoor space plan for the museum

Outdoor space plan for the museum

Written by TanyaFlynn

July 21st, 2010 at 9:03 am

Keeping an event eye on the neighborhood….a little something for everyone!

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This is my favorite time of the year. I know I blogged earlier about festivals and summer but just this week, I have noticed a whole bunch of new cultural sprouts popping up in the community so I thought I would start with what I have seen around and then if you see some others, you could post them too and spread the word!

This weekend, Opera Fort Collins presents Il Trovatore or The Troubadour, at 7:30 pm on Friday and 2 pm on Sunday at the University Center for the Arts (Griffin Concert Hall), on Remington Street (which is a fabulous building by the way!). Tickets are $30/$40; $20 for CSU students and children ages 18 and younger. For more information, call 221-6730 or go to

If opera is not your thing, how about some Jane Austen? OpenStage Theatre kicks off their run of Pride and Prejudice (one of my all time favorite Austen books) at the Lincoln Center mini-theatre this weekend. There’s been many a movie based on this storyline and representing this storyline — who can forget Colin Firth as Mr Darcy! Ok, now I am showing some prejudice of my own! For more information about Pride and Prejudice, performances please visit OpenStage Theatre & Company , or for tickets please visit Lincoln Center Box Office.  Don’t forget that this week is also your last chance to catch OpenStage’s presentation of The Maiden’s Prayer by Nicky Silver which runs Friday and Saturday at 8pm with their final matinee performance Sunday May 24 at 2pm. The Maiden’s Prayer is at the Center for Fine Art Photography: Black Box at 44 N. College Ave.

Finally in May, over at FCMOCA , they are hosting “Fort Collins Collects” from May 22 through to July 18. This exhibit runs in the main gallery and is joined in June by Joseph Rafael in the Mezzanine Gallery for a run through the rest of summer. If you need an art fix more frequently, don’t forget that FCMOCA also hosts  “start your lunch break with an art break” every Wednesday at 12:15pm sharp where you can join a 15 minute guided talk about some of the objects on display. Don’t say we don’t try to inspire you!

As you know, June kicks off with Imagination Fair June 5th with That 1 Guy and Laser Harps and will take place in two locations in Old Town — Oak Street Plaza and Opera Galleria. In conjunction with the Imagination Fair, but separately presented, Laurie Anderson will perform her Burning Leaves show at the Lincoln Center on June 6, which will be outstanding! If you haven’t got your tickets yet, click here! We’re fighting over who will get to go and review her show!

The next weekend is one for the younger members of our community and kicks off with the Fossil Creek Park Bicycle Festival, featuring kids’ bike games, bike rides, food and all manner of cycling shenanigans! The festival runs from 11am-4pm. On Sunday, June 14, the Fort Collins Regional Library District presents A Victorian Sunday in the Park — an afternoon of music, song, vintage games and crafts, and historical bicycles, all provided by the Fort Collins Museum and Discovery Science Center and their friends, in the historic cabins of the museum’s courtyard.  Bring your lunch as the afternoon’s fun starts at 12 and goes til 4pm! Or you might pop over to the Taste of Fort Collins event in the Civic Center Park beforehand and pick up some tasty treats to take to the picnic! There’s food (of course), music, kids games and tons of fun there too…. All in all, an excellent weekend to get out and see what we have at our fingertips in the community!

Right on the solstice, when Spring becomes Summer on June 20 and 21, the Fort Collins Irish Festival arrives in the Civic Center Park for the weekend  and the Father’s Day 5k Run/Walk to benefit Northside Aztlan Community Center Youth Programs. The run starts at 8am with registration from 6:45-7:45am in Old Town Fort Collins. The Irish Festival has a special gift for the first 300 dads to enter its gates as well! Fun for the whole family!

Then, just in case, you haven’t had enough fun already, June 27 and 28, is……that’s right! Colorado Brewer’s Festival!!! Get ready! Proceeds from the Festival help to fund the Lucky Joe’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade, Santa Claus, The Holidays Downtown, free summer concerts, and the 4th of July Downtown. This is a reason in and of itself to attend, but in case you need some more persuading…. there will be music, 50 different Colorado beers, food and fun from 11am to 6pm on both days!

Phew! That’s what I have got coming up! If you have any other information on events in the community that you would like to share, please feel free to add them here in the comments and we can send out the word!

With appreciation to Roger Smith, sarako and oschene for their beautiful images!

Remember – art is part of everyday life!

Kirsten Broadfoot