Discovery museum

Olson Kundig Unveils Reimagined Bay Area Discovery Museum

Olson Kundig has shared new details and photographs of the recently completed campus-wide renovation of the Bay Area Discovery Museum (BADM). The STEM and arts-focused children’s museum is on the grounds of Fort Baker, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, which is part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, located in Sausalito, California.

First announced in early 2019, the transformative $18.5 million overhaul expanded BADM’s footprint to multiple buildings in its historic location, while producing five new permanent exhibits and activity areas supported by the research, as well as improved equipment as part of the museum. BOLD: Arouse curiosity, inspire innovation capital campaign. The redesign of the 7.5-acre BADM campus was completed in phases, allowing the museum to remain open to pint-sized visitors and their accompanying adults during the renovations. (BADM shut down entirely for the first few months of the coronavirus pandemic, reopening in August 2020.)

A new activity space at BADM was completed as part of the $18.5 million renovation. (Courtesy of Matthew Millman)

Alan Maskin, design director at Seattle-based Olson Kundig, spearheaded the project with director and project manager Marlene Chen. San Francisco-based landscape architecture and urban design firm Surfacedesign, Inc. and Seattle-based museum exhibit design and fabrication firm Pacific Studio have also been tapped to complete the team. larger project.

In a press release, Maskin, who also led the design of the Jewish Museum Berlin’s new ANOHA – Children’s World (which also used considerable wooden components), said the renovation project “presents an incredible opportunity to align the updated facilities and exhibit design with the visionary educational theory and practices of the Bay Area Discovery Museum.”

“We know that children aren’t exposed to design and engineering at a sufficiently early age, so BADM’s mission to introduce STEM concepts through play and creative experiences is exciting,” added Maskin. “The museum builds on this idea by creating an environment where access to this vital learning is explicitly equitable and every visitor has the opportunity to integrate this kind of thinking into their lives – the potential where this can lead these children is unlimited.”

view of a children's museum exhibit showing how things work inside the Bay Area Discovery Museum
New how things work exhibition (courtesy Matthew Millman)

In designing the new exhibits and activity areas, the project’s design team, joined by BADM’s own research division, avoided the flashy colors often associated with museum spaces designed specifically for children. This toned down approach, which the company says also appeals to adults who might otherwise be discouraged from actively engaging with their children due to the overwhelming candy-colored aesthetic that often permeates these spaces, invites young visitors to use their own imagination to bring the spaces of the museum even more to life.

As detailed by the company, workshops held during the design and development phases specifically sought ideas and insights from the museum’s primary target users, an approach that further advances “Maskin’s agenda of trusting children as experts in their own experiences.

a toddler explores an interactive museum installation
Exploring the revamped Tot Spot (Courtesy of Matthew Millman)

BADM’s new exhibits and activity spaces include: a newly redesigned creation space, the Fab Lab, equipped with digital fabrication tools; how things work, a new exhibit with considerable adult appeal that “teaches children about systems thinking by cutting in half and removing the outer shell of household items” by the company; new forest and bay-themed exhibits in the Tot Spot, the museum’s dedicated toddler exhibit area, and a new dedicated STEM classroom. Outside, the new Gumnut Grove, a creative play space for children aged five to ten is anchored by a trio of treehouses/play structures, and a new interactive boat exhibit at Lookout Cove, an adventurous 2.5 acre play and discovery area, offers stunning views of the Golden Gate Bridge.

two historic buildings with the golden gate bridge in the background
View of the BADM campus from historic Fort Baker in Sausalito. (Courtesy of Matthew Millman)

“They are insatiably curious about how children learn best,” said Kelly McKinley, CEO of the Bay Area Discovery Museum, of the Olson Kundig team. “They understand the unparalleled power of play and rejoice in transforming children’s understanding of their world. And they, as a result, create beautiful and imaginative environments that captivate young children and their parents alike.

children exploring an interactive museum with the golden gate bridge in the background
the how things work exhibition (courtesy Matthew Millman)

The expanded and newly redesigned BADM is open Wednesday through Sunday with advance reservations required due to COVID-era capacity limitations. Social distancing is required and visitors should wear face masks in indoor and outdoor areas due to the large number of children who are not yet eligible for vaccination.