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September 07, 2011

Wait! It’s September already?

Quiz Show module This is what goes through my brain early each morning. Yesterday I was filled with giddy excitement about the opening of the new imagiNATIONS Activity Center in less than three weeks. Today, my thoughts have rotated to the other extreme: terror. There seems to be no middle ground between being stunned at how amazing all the components are and being completely overwhelmed by the amount of detail still to tackle. 

People ask what it’s like to work on a project like this, or what it is we do every day. Take September 1, for example. Bright and early I had a phone call about arranging for a facilities contractor to patch the ceiling after fire strobes and water lines are moved. Then I had a meeting with my boss to keep her updated. Then we had a team meeting to make sure everyone had what he or she needed to keep moving forward and meet our deadlines. I had meetings in the afternoon about public relations and the web; with a staff member who will be taking on some of the programming duties; and with our team editor, about issues that arose in the translation of the questions for the quiz show. And I communicated with a tribal chair about his community’s artwork for our young visitors' imagiNATIONS passports.

Amy's office I unpacked shipments that had arrived; that day we received cushions for the storytelling area, Arctic yo-yos, buffalo parts for the buffalo activity box, and art supplies for the craft room. I separated out all the organic material that first has to go into the freezer (part of the museum's careful pest management program). We had several script reviews and images to select. I stayed late last night to process orders for some of the instruments for the music room, more arts and craft supplies, handling objects for the tipi, and bins for the weaving materials for the big basket. I never did start the grant report.

It’s like this every day right now. This week it got even busier, as the activities themselves (dwellings, graphics panels, etc.) started to arrive and find their new homes in the space. Suddenly next week, it all will change from being a wonderful idea to a very real adventure.

September 25 is the opening of phase one. We’ll have a variety of activities complete and ready to go, and more still in progress. By the end of October, we’ll have the majority of the new space completed, while a few activities will wait for their debut until early next year.

Iglu area design
The excitement is definitely building at the museum, as the imagiNATIONS Activity Center becomes reality. I’m constantly refreshed by the creativity, dedication, and commitment of my colleagues. I tried keeping a list of all the people who have helped with this project, and abandoned it as I realized that nearly all museum staff have played a role. When you’re in the middle of the details, it’s sometimes hard to see the big picture, but this big picture is colorful, playful, and tremendously exhilarating.

Please join us September 25—and many times thereafter!

—Amy Van Allen, project manager for the imagiNATIONS Activity Center

Illustrations (top to bottom): The imagiNATIONS Quiz Show awaits its cue backstage—well, actually, in the basement of the museum. Come September 25, you'll find it at the top of the main staircase on the 3rd floor, at the entry to the imagiNATIONS space.

My office has been overtaken by boxes of marvelous things!

The designer's rendering of the iglu activity area, with a base to build on and a shelf to hold the "snow" blocks. If you visited the museum in February, you probably saw children building—and exploding—the prototype iglu.


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