Tag Archives: museum

Ignite Learning

In 2017, Santa Barbara welcomed a new, exciting and wholly unique museum to its ranks: MOXI, The Wolf Museum of Exploration + Innovation.

Since the grand opening, more than 500,000 visitors, mostly wide-eyed children, have bopped through MOXI’s 17,000 square feet of interactive exhibits. Exhibits like Build It. Test It. Race It. where kids can assemble their own racecars and send them down an oversized track. The builders have variables to play with, the slope of the track and the design and weight of the race cars, which force them to hypothesize and test, both hallmarks of critical thinking and problem solving.

“It’s science plus race cars, which are super fun,” says CEO Robin Gose, clearly jazzed about the exhibit. “And it’s this racetrack on steroids, bigger than anything they have at home, which is really exciting.”

For Gose, her staff and the community volunteers who spent almost three decades dreaming up and making MOXI a reality, Build It. Test It. Race it. and all the exhibits are as much about learning as they are about fun – two inextricably intertwined concepts.

As Gose, who has spent the better part of the past two decades in both formal and informal science education, explains, MOXI is about developing 21st century core competencies for not just its visitors, but also every child in the region.

The Department of Labor predicts that two thirds of all students today will be employed in jobs that don’t yet exist by the time they enter the labor force. Many of those jobs will be in STEM – science, technology, engineering, and math – areas of learning that MOXI is all about.

“What is needed for this generation of children and generations to come are the problem solving skills and adaptive mindset to face new and bigger challenges,” Gose says. “We are going to need critical thinkers and science advocates as we continue to face pandemics, climate change, rising sea levels, and new challenges being thrown at us all the time.”

To get there is all about, as MOXI’s mission says, igniting “learning through interactive experiences in science and creativity.”

“Don’t just read about science,” says Gose. “Do it! Play and discover and open up that world of curiosity and creativity.”

Gose is not only excited about MOXI’s exhibits, but the museum’s new strategic plan. The museum itself, she says, is “a beautiful proof of concept” for its larger goal of serving the entire community. A key goal of the new strategic plan is to engage and collaborate with local schools to bring the kind of science education found at MOXI to every school and student in the region. “We want to do everything we can to provide equitable access,” Gose says. “We are truly here for the whole community.”

The Arts, Back in Full

Finally, after a five-year, $50-million capital campaign to renovate the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, in the spring of 2021 visitors will be able to witness this jewel of the art world anew.

While most of the building has been under construction, the rest of the museum has remained open, albeit with fewer galleries available for visitors. The museum will reopen with new exhibitions, while taking old favorites to new heights.

 In addition to renovating the 12 original galleries in the main building, two entirely new galleries have been added: one for photography and the other to showcase the museum’s impressive collection of contemporary art.

Lansdowne Hermes (Roman), First half of 2nd century CE Marble, 86 1/4 x 40 x 13 3/8 in. SBMA, Gift of Wright S. Ludington, 1984.34.1 Photo courtesy of the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles

Of the 100,000 people who visit the Santa Barbara Museum of Art annually, most won’t be able to forget Ludington Court, which houses some of the museum’s most prized sculptures and assorted antiquities. Foremost among them is the Lansdowne Hermes, a life-size marble sculpture made in Rome in the 1st or 2nd century AD. Since 2016, when renovation began, Hermes and a handful of other sculptures were on display at the Getty Museum in Los Angeles, where they also were meticulously restored.

“We hope that our loyal members and visitors to Ludington Court will be enthralled by the new installation featuring the Lansdowne Hermes on an elevated pedestal at its center. Paintings ranging in date from the 15th through early 20th centuries will be hung densely to emphasize the now dramatic height of the gallery,” says Eik Kahng, Santa Barbara Museum of Art Deputy Director and Chief Curator.

In addition to having these restored antiquities back, Ludington Court itself has undergone a total transformation. The original triple-arches have been restored, and a new grand staircase overlooks the gallery.

Come spring, the museum will have more space to provide programming for some 40,000 children and adults alike through a near constant cycle of school programs, symposiums, exhibitions, and lectures. Most of the museum’s programs have moved online and will resume on-site when restrictions are lifted, in accordance with the State of California and Santa Barbara County COVID-19 protocols.

While the pandemic delayed the intended fall opening of “Through Vincent’s Eyes,” a blockbuster exhibit featuring a selection of Van Gogh’s most iconic paintings alongside an additional 100-plus works by the artists and authors that inspired him – the closure created an opportunity for something more. In early spring 2022, the Santa Barbara Museum of Art will bring the Van Gogh exhibition to the community with more and different works than originally anticipated. 

And most importantly, Santa Barbara, a community known for its world-class cultural institutions, will have this vital hub of the arts back in full.