Schenectady Museum set for lift off

Transformation includes annually rotating exhibits, name change

— The Schenectady Museum is set to become a little less static and a lot more hands-on to create an education center unique to the Capital District.

The museum is being transformed into a regional science and education center with the addition of the area’s only Challenger Learning Center and an agreement with the internationally renowned San Francisco-based Exploratorium Museum to provide five years of annual rotating, interactive science exhibits. Also, plans for a new entranceway will complement the updated museum through a partnership with Rensselaer’s School of Architecture.

Changes inside and outside the museum are also spurring a search for a new name to better fit the updated experience.

“There has been a long history at the museum with science, innovation and exploration, and a lot of that has to do with the fact that there are so many archives that stem from GE’s work in the area,” Trudy Lehner, vice president of the museum’s board of trustees, said.

In the past seven years, the museum has moved from being a “pure museum” to an interactive museum, Lehner said. She said the growth of the region’s technology corridor has employers looking to hire locally, creating an increased demand for science-based job opportunities.

Museum officials said the new Science Center is projected to attract “tens of thousands of school children and visitors” annually to delve into the interactive education.

“We are hoping it will bring in school groups and constantly have something new for them to see and learn,” she said.

She said she realizes schools are facing tougher budgets and fewer field trips so the museum changed its hours around a year ago to accommodate a later crowd.

The museum reached out to BOCES before moving forward with plans, and BOCES “assured” them school groups would come to visit new exhibits, Lehner said.

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