Palo Alto City Council has approved the construction of a new Palo Alto Junior Museum & Zoo (JMZ) facility, including approving a construction management agreement between the City of Palo Alto and the Friends of the Palo Alto Junior Museum & Zoo (Friends). City Council approved the design of the new JMZ on December 4, 2017.
Built in 1941, the current Palo Alto Junior Museum & Zoo facility is proving inadequate for the pivotal role that the JMZ plays in early-science education. The JMZ hosts 184,000 visitors each year from the local community and beyond, and engages more than 19,000 pre-kindergarten through fifth-grade students every year in vital STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education lessons. The new Junior Museum & Zoo will include safer access, improved facilities and increased access for visitors of all abilities.
In January 2017, the Friends raised $25 million to rebuild the JMZ, thanks to a $15 million matching grant from the Peery Foundation and $10 million in private donations from local donors. The City of Palo Alto expects to contribute over $7 million to the project. The new building will be modernized while retaining the kid-friendly and intimate qualities of the current facility, providing even more educational experiences that are uniquely valuable to children. Aletha Coleman, Board President, says, “The Friends’ Board of Directors is honored to make the new Palo Alto Junior Museum & Zoo a reality for future generations of children and their families. The improved JMZ will continue to provide exceptional early-science programs that inspire a love of science and nature, as it has done for more than 80 years.”
John Aikin, JMZ Director, believes that the enhanced facility will help catalyze the JMZ as an essential resource for curriculum-based science education for preschool and elementary school students. “The JMZ provides opportunities for rich experiences in a fun and safe learning environment. The new Junior Museum & Zoo will leverage our position as a model for delivering science education, while adding animal habitats and formative exhibits that promote questions and exploration.” Groundbreaking is expected to take place in the summer of 2018, and the facility is scheduled to reopen in 2020. During construction the JMZ will be housed at Cubberley Community Center in Palo Alto.
The current architectural designs and a project timeline can be found on the Friends’ website.