Bulgaria’s Muzeiko to Address Eastern Europe’s Dearth of Children’s Museums

Posted by Rachel S on Friday, November 15th, 2013

Exterior of Muzeiko in Sofia, Bulgaria

In America, we take children’s art and science museums for granted. In other countries, though, opportunities for children to go and learn outside of the hours in the school day are minimal or non-existent. But in Bulgaria, at long last, they are getting a children’s museum in the capital city of Sofia!

The $15 million project is being financed by The America for Bulgaria Foundation, a US government charity headquartered in Sofia. Muzeiko is set to open in 2015 and recently broke ground. The conservative budget won’t allow for a new facility to be built from the ground up, so instead the design firm will convert a college laboratory building to house the project.

Rendering of interior of Muzeiko

Lee H. Skolnick Architecture + Design Partnership (LHSA + DP) won the bid to design and has recently released renderings of what Muzeiko will look like. The design themes are all STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) centric and include areas of exploration in geology, paleontology, space travel and more.

Museum director Bistra Kirova says, “We see our museum as a revolution in Bulgaria.” The facility will be 35,000 square feet of fully interactive learning with a flow that takes children through time and space. This will be a welcome change from traditional Bulgarian museums where the presence of children is discouraged.

Tree feature at the heart of Muzeiko's design

The centerpiece of the museum will be a three story tree that touches all levels of the museums. The lowest level of the museum, where the roots of the tree dwell, will feature exhibitions about the past including geology and paleontology. The design shows a distinctive subterranean feel complete with stalactites and stalagmites to explore in faux caves.

The ground floor respresents the heart of the tree and displays our scientific present with displays of habitats and modern architecture. The top floor, in the tree canopy, will look to future technologies and space travel. Interesting side note – while Bulgaria may not have its own launch program, they have had a cosmonaut program since the late 1970s are responsible for the invention of astronaut food and space greenhouses.

Exterior design of Muzeiko

All of these exhibits will be housed in a facility that will be retooled heavily in glass to maximize natural light. Local Bulgarian scientists and experts are being tapped to help develop the exhibits which will be targeted primarily at five to eleven year olds. A rooftop garden and a large play and experimental area add value at ground and sky level. The front and top of the facade are deliberately mountainous in look and feel to echo the peaks surrounding Sofia.

While the design of Muzeiko is stimulating, what’s most exciting is the birth of the premiere children’s museum in Bulgaria. We can only hope this will be the first of many endeavors focused on fun and educational opportunities outside of the classroom for children in this region.

 

image sources: Aiany.org, KidsArt.bg, Skolnick.com

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