Since May 2018, the Museum has been building two new 600-square foot classrooms, accessible from the Museum courtyard, just beyond the Kite-Eating Tree. Since 2008, the Museum has been hosting classes and camps in the Annex classroom, a short walk from the Museum. The new building will replace the Annex and allow the Museum to offer more camps and classes for all ages—including camps for different age groups at the same time—all in one drop-off location at the Museum.
Designed by Samaha + Hart Architecture, the building (as seen in the architectural renderings below) will have an outside play area separate from the Museum courtyard so that young campers and other guests have their own space to enjoy. Large glass windows facing the Museum will allow visitors to peek inside, just like the current thought-bubble-shaped window into the upstairs Education Room.
The construction and resulting transformation of the Museum grounds have been fascinating to watch. As the finishing touches are being added to our new classroom buildings, I have been particularly involved with the landscaping, as I love the plantings.
Here are some of the features in our updated outdoor space:
Trees and shrubs line the new redwood fence surrounding the building.
A beautiful green lawn provides a comfortable play area right outside of the classrooms’ big expanse of sliding doors.
At the far end of the lawn, we added a “daydreaming mound” for kids to watch the clouds roll by. The mound was inspired by the Peanuts strip below in which Charlie Brown, Linus, and Lucy lay down on a hill and discuss what they see in the cloud formations. After Linus goes on to explain the elaborate images he sees, Charlie Brown replies, “Well, I was going to say I saw a ducky and a horsie, but I changed my mind!”
To create the mound, the landscapers first shaped the dirt to the right size and then carefully aligned strips of sod over it.
Our neighbors at the Children’s Museum of Sonoma County have a whimsical windmill that our visitors can watch lazily turn.
Looking back toward the Museum from the classrooms, yellow and black bricks adorn the courtyard in a signature Peanuts zig-zag pattern.
In front of the classrooms, there is a large planter box filled with stones and a tree.
Linus and Charlie Brown in the courtyard have newly refurbished landscaping around them as well.
Finally, the large planter in front of the Museum’s entrance is also being revamped. This tree was the ‘star of the show’ until it pretty much gave up the ghost this year.
It was a beautiful cherry tree filled with glorious white blossoms in the spring that matched the half dozen cherry trees in the back courtyard. Sadly, several of those in the back had to be removed to make room for the construction of the classrooms, but the new plantings and updated grounds welcome a fresh start. The cherry tree in the entry courtyard will be replaced this winter with one that we hope will have a long life in that particular environment.
We look forward to having more space for educational programs and camps by the end of the year. Check back for updates about the building’s opening date and be sure to peek inside the new structure on your next visit!