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Discovery Complex plans still in works

Nov. 12, 1998

BY BRITTNEY PARTRIDGE

Staff Writer

Brittney_Partridge@baylor.edu

For many years, Baylor has been working on the plans for a Discovery Complex. These plans are being realized as the campaign has recently received tremendous support.

According to President Robert B. Sloan Jr., the Discovery Complex campaign has received more than $4 million.

'We have some other exciting gifts to be announced in the not-too-distant future,' Sloan said. 'I'm excited about the progress we are making towards the Discovery Complex. This is a project we have long needed to accomplish.'

Sloan said once $7 million is raised, construction of the complex will begin, but they will continue to raise money to fund the project.

'We have some theoretical phases outlined, and we intend to start building as soon as we possibly can,' Sloan said. 'I'm hopeful that within the next year or two we'll see the dirt starting to move on this project.'

The Baylor Board of Regents will be meeting today and Friday, and the project will be presented to their Facilities and Technologies Committee, Sloan said.

Calvin Smith, department chairman of museum studies and director of the Strecker Museum Complex, said the regents will be looking at the architecture of phase one of the discovery complex.

'I feel like they're going to approve it,' Smith said. 'I don't foresee any problems because it meshes well with other structures. It will be very traditional.'

The Strecker Museum, the oldest museum in Texas, has been located in the basement of Sid Richardson Science Building since 1968. The Discovery Complex will be located on University Parks Drive, in front of the Governor Bill and Vara Daniel Historic Village and adjacent to the Hughes-Dillard Alumni Center.

This is a project they have been working on for a long time, and it will be a great asset to the university, Smith said.

'This is an opportunity to develop the museum studies program, which will enhance Baylor and its mission to quality education,' Smith said. 'For the first time, we have an opportunity to present the very best of Baylor to about 200,000 visitors a year. The museum itself will be of highest quality, and we've been given some major gifts to guarantee this.'

The Discovery Complex will provide excellent opportunities for the expansion of the museum studies program.

'We have become truly academic,' Smith said. 'There's a linkage and responsibility to properly take care of, curate and interpret documents and to present in the form of exhibitions, programs and publications everything that we have accumulated. It becomes a truly interactive, hands-on approach that not everybody has.'

There are other features of the complex, such as the Discovery Place, that will benefit students as well. This feature will continue the tradition of the Ollie Mae Moen Discovery Center in challenging and educating children of all ages.

'We're going to have an observation area so that the School of Education and the department of psychology can observe how people learn,' Smith said. 'There are many opportunities that have not been afforded in the past.'

According to Smith, some of the gifts that have been received thus far include a $1.2 million gift from Southwestern Bell for a 200-seat high-definition video theater and a $1 million gift from AT&T. The AT&T Information Centers will provide state-of-the-art technology throughout the complex.

Another generous gift of $1 million was given by Thomas and Emilyne Anding which will guarantee about 8,000 square feet for traveling exhibits, Smith said.

'This is one of those vary rare gifts,' Smith said. 'They told us to 'use it any way you want to.''

The Thomas E. and Emilyne W. Anding Exhibition Gallery will allow the complex to showcase its own collections and to bring the latest traveling exhibits to Waco, some commonly known as Blockbuster exhibits.

According to Smith, the Discovery Center will be the main attraction of the complex. This 110,000-square-foot building will house many exhibits and will provide opportunities for experience and discovery.

Other features include the History of Baylor University Exhibit, the Waco Mammoth Site and the Permanent Exhibits Gallery which will feature the extensive John K. Strecker Museum Collection.

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