Ted Simons: Tonight's edition of Arizona Artbeat looks at the Arizona museum for youth in Mesa. Producer Shana Fischer and photographer Scot Olson, take us on a tour of the "Idea Museum," a place where both children and adults can explore their creative side.
Shana Fischer: The experience at the idea museum begins before you even step inside. The museum opened its doors in 1978, in a refurbished grocery store. It was the first children's museum in the country to focus solely on art.
Sunnee O’Roark: Our mission is to inspire children of all ages to experience art, creativity, imagination.
Shana Fischer: The executive director Sunnee O'Roark oversaw the museum's recent renovation and says it’s all about sparking creativity.
Sunnee O’Roark: Creativity is in all aspects of life. Often we will think of artists as being the creative ones in the world. We all have creative activities that we like to do and also have imagination and so we offer that to our public.
Shana Fischer: There are three main exhibits spread across 20,000 square feet. ArtVille for the younger crowds and encourages brain development. Puppetry activities. Inside the Hub, 11 different stations, interactive designed around critical thinking and creativity. Play a word game with friends. The big draw is the robot exhibit.
Sunnee O’Roark: The robot exhibit is an excellent example of what we offer in the gallery. We have wonderful art on the walls and sculptures. They're actually 46 different artworks created by 15 artists from across the country and three from here in Arizona. There are also an area where kids can dome and adults. You can pretend you're in Mars or another planet on the green screen that we have.
Shana Fischer: O’Roark says the museum prides itself on being a place where an adult and a child can interact. In fact, a recent study shows the idea museum has the highest rate of interaction of any children’s museum in the country.
Sunnee O’Roark: In the fast-paced world, we run from one thing to another. Drop the kids off at soccer. Takeout for dinner. Maybe on the television or computer when they get home. It's really hard to have that quality time with your family.
Shana Fischer: The idea museum took that interaction to the next level. By calling on its members to help with the renovation. Parents and kids put together the beaded light fixtures in the hub and the mural in the lobby. All of the museum's hard work as paid off. Beth Yanda came with her young cousins and said the makeover has made a huge difference.
Beth Yanda: It has been really fun. We can touch things. We can write on the wall. We aren't going and looking through glass. We're getting to actually enjoy touching things and being coming a part of the exhibit, instead of separate from the exhibit.
Shana Fischer: The connection between a parent, child, museum and patrons is what excites her the most about coming to work every day.
Sunnee O’Roark: I am absolutely thrilled when I see the museum -- when they share their stories. When I see a grandparent bringing their children and grandchildren here, it thrills me because for me, art has always been a very personal and important part of my life. And so it just brings me a great deal of joy. I love my job. And I love the museum and it's very unique. I have worked in many other museums across the country, but this museum is very special.
Ted Simons: The name idea is an acronym that stands for imagination, design, experience, art. Museum $7 for adults and children. You can find out more by checking the web site ideamuseum.org. Thursday on "Arizona Horizon," new report ranks the Phoenix area high in terms of urban sprawl. That's Thursday evening, and on the next "Arizona Horizon." Reminder, if you want to check out our web site, you are invited to go to azpbs.org/horizon. You can see what we've had in the past and what we plan on in the future. That is it for now. I'm Ted Simons. Thank you for joining us. You have a great evening.