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Tulsa Children's Museum Discovery Lab under construction along Riverside Drive
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Tulsa Children's Museum Discovery Lab under construction along Riverside Drive

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Construction crews have begun to erect a steel frame for the Tulsa Children’s Museum’s new Discovery Lab location along Riverside Drive.

The 50,000-square-foot facility will be a permanent, fully-programmed children’s museum and science center after its projected late-fall 2021 opening date, and it’s expected to welcome 250,000 visitors annually.

The center, near 31st Street and Riverside Drive, will anchor the southern end of the Gathering Place, serving families and area schools as well as housing programming for the Tulsa Public Schools STEM Center.

City officials and community leaders broke ground on the site in late February, and numerous donors, as well as public funds, have made the construction possible.

Tulsa voters approved $8 million for the museum as part of the 2016 Vision Tulsa sales tax package, and the George Kaiser Family Foundation, which led the effort to build the Gathering Place, donated land for the museum valued at $8 million to $10 million.

Over the summer, the Anne and Henry Zarrow Foundation invested $6 million, and the Hardesty Family Foundation invested $3 million.

The $6 million donation will support education through play and will include the naming and dedication of the Central Galley in memory of Anne Zarrow.

“Mom really loved children,” Judy Kishner, daughter of the Zarrows and president of the Anne and Henry Zarrow Foundation, said then. “When she saw children in need, such as a child sleeping on the floor of a shelter who needed bedding and warm clothes, she responded.

“I know Mom would appreciate the opportunities that the new Discovery Lab facility will provide — opportunities to learn and experience adventures while building community with other kids and their families. This naming opportunity is a special way to honor her.”

The Hardesty Family Foundation’s donation will finance a 300-person outdoor amphitheater at the entrance to the museum. Tulsa Children’s Museum Executive Director Ray Vandiver said the amphitheater be an important outdoor extension of the programs and experiences available inside the museum, as well as a community space.

“The amphitheater space offers so many opportunities to bring families together, to provide STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) programming, and, we hope, will be a platform to feature the work and creations of local artists, scientists and other inspiring innovators,” Vandiver said then.

Established in 2007, the Tulsa Children’s Museum has been operating out of the Owen Park community center since 2013, when the facility was named Discovery Lab. The museum and science center focuses on hands-on, action-based learning designed to improve children’s critical thinking, creativity and collaboration skills.

To learn more, visit discoverylab.org.


A walking tour of the Gathering Place with George Kaiser

Kaiser talks about some of the subtle, but special features at the new park.

Gallery: Take a look inside the Tulsa Children’s Museum Discovery Lab at the Gathering Place

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Staff Writer

I write because I care about people, policing and peace, and I believe the most informed people make the best decisions. I joined the Tulsa World in 2019 and currently cover breaking news. Phone: 918-581-8455

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