On Saturday, June 30, the Palo Alto Junior Museum & Zoo (JMZ) celebrated the groundbreaking of a new facility. The celebration included a ceremonial shovels-in-the-ground ceremony, as well as speeches by Mayor Liz Kniss, the Friends of the Junior Museum & Zoo (Friends) Board President, Aletha Coleman, and JMZ Executive Director, John Aikin.
Aletha Coleman thanked the City of Palo Alto and the Peery Foundation for supporting the effort to build a new museum and zoo. “The Friends’ Board of Directors is grateful to the Peery Foundation and all of our donors for helping the Friends raise $25 million to reimagine and rebuild the Junior Museum & Zoo. We are also thankful to the City of Palo Alto and the entire City Council for believing in this project and making it a reality.”
The Junior Museum & Zoo is being rebuilt after a decade-long effort to realize a new JMZ facility. Built in 1941, the old Junior Museum & Zoo building has become inadequate for the extensive early-education science programming that the JMZ provides both on-site and in local elementary schools. The old facility has also proven to be insufficient for the nearly 200,000 visitors it hosts every year.
The new Junior Museum & Zoo will include safer access, improved facilities and increased access for visitors of all abilities. The building will be modernized while retaining the kid-friendly and intimate qualities of the old facility, providing even more unique, educational experiences that are invaluable to children. Construction is expected to take 18 months, and the new JMZ will open in 2020. The current architectural designs and a project timeline can be found on the Friends’ website: https://friendsjmz.org/building-new-jmz/.
During construction the JMZ and the Friends will be housed at Cubberley Community Center, located at 4050 Middlefield Road in Palo Alto. Visitors can continue to enjoy many of their favorite exhibits, including the Kid-Powered Ball Machine and the giant Climbing Web. Some animals will also be located at Cubberley, including the snakes, skinks and hedgehogs. The JMZ is currently closed to visitors and is expected to re-open at Cubberley this summer.