On November 21, 2016, designs and plans for rebuilding the Palo Alto Junior Museum & Zoo (JMZ) were presented to the Palo Alto City Council for review and comment in a study session. The project, named the JMZ Initiative, is a private/public partnership between the Friends of the Palo Alto Junior Museum & Zoo (Friends) and the City of Palo Alto that will keep this intimate and beloved family resource viable for future generations.
The designs, drawn by local architect firm, Cody Anderson Wasney, have been reviewed by the Parks and Recreation Commission (PRC) and the Community Services Department. Designs will be further reviewed by the City’s departments and commissions over the next few months, with the hope that ground breaking will commence late 2017.
John Aikin, JMZ Executive Director, believes that the JMZ is a model for how museums can deliver better informal science education. “Children approach the world like scientists – they question, investigate, and discover. For me, the most exciting thing about the new JMZ is that we have added more exhibits and animal habitats to leverage play and encourage exploration in young children.”
The plans include safer access and improved facilities for visitors, a more integrated entrance from Rinconada Park, and additional parking. The current building, built in 1941, is proving inadequate for the increasing role the JMZ plays in educating mid-pennisula children. The JMZ teaches over 19,000 children in Palo Alto, East Palo Alto and Mountain View, and hosts approximately 150,000 visits a year.
The project will be financed via an unprecedented gift for a Palo Alto City facility from the Peery Foundation, which has issued a $15 million challenge grant, giving one-and-a-half dollars for each dollar raised in the first $10 million tranche. To date, more than $9 million has been donated thanks to the generous support of local families and foundations.
With less than $1 million to raise by the deadline of January 31, 2017, the Board of Directors of the Friends of the Palo Alto Junior Museum & Zoo is urging the community to donate generously.
“We invite the community to join us in this important Initiative. You’ll help the next generation of scientists, doctors, engineers and entrepreneurs meet the future’s many challenges,” says Marshall Koch, Friends’ Board member and JMZ Initiative Co-Chair.