WINCHESTER, Va. — General contractor Howard Shockey & Sons announces construction has begun for the Shenandoah Valley Discovery Museum, at a location near the south end of Winchester’s historic pedestrian mall. The museum, which has been looking for an ideal place to expand, acquired a three-story brick building at 19 W. Cork Street to serve as its new home.
“This project will transform an existing office building into a vibrant downtown attraction,” says Jeff Boehm, Vice President with Shockey.
When the transformation is complete, Boehm says the 14,500-square-foot building will feature hands-on art, science, cultural, environmental and media exhibitions, as well as special event space. A whimsical, exuberant roof deck with landscaped learning gardens will add an additional 4,800 square feet of space. Renovations also include enlivening the exterior with a child-designed community art project.
“This building is going to be filled with wonder and delight – it will make you smile,” says architect Chuck Swartz, adding that matter-of-fact design solutions are married to whimsy in this building. “The entry to the building will be happy and glassy — we will install a large operable glass garage door to allow exhibits like ambulances and dinosaurs to enter,” says Swartz.
The museum will showcase a 20-foot kinetic sculpture demonstrating the force of gravity through cause and effect. Exhibits will include a full-size Triceratops skeleton, a dynamic and interactive health center, a water play area, and a hands-on science kitchen where children can perform experiments under the guidance of a professional scientist. In addition to classrooms, offices and a museum store, the new museum will feature an expanded art area with rotating artists-in-residence.
“Our goal is to offer a distinctive place where children can experience the joy of learning in a creative, stimulating environment,” says Mary Braun, the Executive Director.
The facility is one of only seven children’s museums in Virginia, and it draws visitors from a wide area including Northern Virginia and the Shenandoah Valley, as well as West Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania. Approximately 34,000-40,000 people visit the Shenandoah Valley Discovery Museum each year.
Visitation to the museum is expected to sizably increase when it moves into the larger space and unveils the new interactive exhibits. The children’s museum will continue to operate at its present location, 54 S. Loudoun St. until the new museum opens next year.
“This museum is already known for its innovative programming. The new facility promises to become even more of a destination, and it will positively impact our local economy. We’ll see more visitors to the pedestrian mall, and they’re likely to combine their trip to the museum with dining out and shopping, so it’s good news on many levels,” says Sally Coates, Executive Director of the Winchester-Frederick County Convention & Visitor Bureau.
Howard Shockey & Sons, Inc. of Winchester is the general contractor; Reader & Swartz Architects, also of Winchester, is the architectural firm.
Source: Winchester Star