Education Center Project Components
Artist Rendering of Education Center
Amazement Square is faced with a daunting reality. The physical space that houses the museum’s exhibitions and programs was designed to support an annual attendance of 45,000. Each year, however, we welcome through our doors more than double that number of visitors.
The museum was also designed with more than 85% of its space dedicated to exhibitions. But over the years, we have responded to the community’s calling for more educational programs, including school programs, workshops and performances. The limited space we have to deliver these programs is not able to meet the growing needs of our members and visitors.
Amazement Square must expand beyond the walls of its historic home.
The Education Center, which is adjacent to the museum and faces the James River, will provide 17,000 additional square feet and will feature:
- a 6,500 square-foot multipurpose gallery, where we will be able to host traveling exhibitions and more robust in-house exhibitions, as well as special performances, children’s theater programs and other events
- five classrooms, where school programs and community workshops can be conducted
- exhibit fabrication workshop, where our exhibit fabrication and design staff can work their magic to create new exhibitions and unique learning experiences for our members and guests
- designated rooms for event rentals, such as birthday parties and sleepovers
This new space will enable Amazement Square to meet its true potential and will give us the flexibility to launch new programs that set the standard for highly engaging, hands-on learning.
The endowment is a vital source of momentum for Amazement Square. It is a resource that enables us to meet the emerging needs and challenges of the museum. It elevates our position as the premier cultural institution of Central Virginia and in the Commonwealth. And, above all else, it ensures the long-term financial stability of the museum, enabling us to keep our promise to the community that we will continue to deliver rich, quality educational experiences for many years to come.
The Campaign includes an endowment component that will increase the museum’s existing Endowment Fund to ensure the long-term financial stability of the organization. Complementing income earned from admissions, membership and program fees, as well as from public and private support, endowment funds help underwrite building maintenance and other operating costs, develop special programs and sponsor the museum’s outreach programs for underserved communities. For each unrestricted gift to the Campaign, one-third will be put into the Endowment Fund (options to create a special individually-named Endowment Fund are described in more detail below). This increased Endowment, combined with the earned income generated by the Education Center, will fully cover the increased operating costs of the new facility and provide funds necessary to maintain Amazement Square’s high-quality buildings and exhibitions over the long-term.
Train Tunnel Restoration/Time Tunnel Exhibition
The second phase of the Capital Campaign includes the creation of the 2,000 square foot Time Tunnel exhibition, which will be the museum’s most sophisticated exhibition to date and the first of its kind in the nation. The exhibition will make use of a late 19th-century barrel-vaulted stone train tunnel, which is located below street level, parallel to the south façade of the museum. The 150-foot long tunnel is aesthetically and structurally sound but is in need of stabilization. The restoration of the tunnel into a usable programmatic/event space will be included in Phase I of the project.
Phase II of the project will entail transforming the tunnel into a multidisciplinary and interactive exhibition environment that will act as a visual encyclopedia depicting the historical progression of selected themes. To make each visit to the Time Tunnel exhibition a new experience, the theme of the trips will be changed periodically to ensure the content remains fresh and engaging, attracting both new and repeat visitors. The first three themed journeys planned for this exhibition include the history of transportation, the history of architecture, and the history and concept of energy.
N&W Signal Tower
The Campaign will also enable the renovation and adaptive re-use of the N & W Signal Tower, a two-story train signal structure built in 1915, located approximately 150 yards from the museum. The N&W Signal Tower will include an exhibition that will showcase the history of the railroad and its relevance to the history of our community. The restoration of the historic Signal Tower is an opportunity to share another piece of Lynchburg’s history with the community as well as further revitalize the area immediately surrounding the museum.
Existing Building Refurbishments
To ensure the museum’s original building continues to offer the high-quality and topically-relevant exhibitions museum visitors have come to expect, the Campaign also provides for the renovation and upgrade of certain of the museum’s permanent exhibitions, some of which have been in place since opening in 2001.