Discovery Cube 2

Residents of the San Fernando Valley now have two new and unique museums where they can take the family for both fun and education. One museum focuses on the history of the region; the other is a modern “Discovery” that embraces the model to teach and entertain at the same time.

Expected to cause great excitement is the opening today, Nov. 13, of a much anticipated children’s museum at Hansen Dam. Named “Cube LA,” it is the Valley extension to the cube-shaped museum that’s a huge hit with so many Orange County kids. And it finally opens after ears of failed previous projects and lack of funding,

Discovery Cube LA is housed in a 71,000 square foot building at Hansen Dam Recreation Center, at the corner of Osborne Street and Foothill Blvd. The signature giant, multicolor, inflatable cube greets visitors at the entrance.

 “We’re very excited, very happy to finally open,” said Dan Nasitka, manager of communications at the Discovery Science Foundation.

“A lot of people have put a lot of work and effort in this. We [are crying] tears of joy. The building has been vacant for a lot of years, but we’ve only been on this project for two plus years and to create a museum in that time it’s a feat in itself,” Nasitka said.

Blending Permanent And Traveling Exhibits

While both the L.A. and Orange counties have had wonderful museums for area children, the San Fernando Valley hasn’t until now.

Discovery Cube LA is promised to have what is described as an exciting blend of permanent and traveling exhibits connected to their foundations’ initiatives. Many of the exhibits at Cube LA will focus on four main areas: healthy living, environmental stewardship, early learners and STEM – science, technology, engineering and math.

The goal is to teach science and related areas creatively, including stepping into a simulated helicopter to tour of California’s natural resources, experiencing a Santa Ana Wind Tunnel, and kayaking the L.A. River.    

Getting the museum to this point has been a tough ride. The Discovery Science Foundation took over a building that was supposed to house a children’s museum that never came to fruition.

The idea for the museum was proposed back in 2000 with an estimated cost of $10 million. But the price quickly ballooned to nearly $50 million. By 2007, the building with glass walls and slanting roof finished construction.

Then, in 2009, the Los Angeles Children’s Museum — which would have run the San Fernando Museum — went into bankruptcy and the City of Los Angeles took over. But depleted municipal coffers prevented the opening.

The L.A. City Council finally approved $11.8 million towards the museum last year. Nasitka said they’ve also received additional money incentives to raise the museum’s funds to $22.4 million.

Talks between officials from the City of Los Angeles and Discovery Science Foundation in Orange County (whose museum is easily identified by the “cube” shape on its roof one sees while traveling along the I-5 Freeway in Santa Ana), began soon after the L.A. Children’s Museum went into bankruptcy. Now the foundation is hoping to bring new life to this corner of the east San Fernando Valley. While it is part of the “Cube,” officials said it will be tailored to this area.

“You can expect 71,000 square feet of state-of-the-art exhibits that are unique to the San Fernando Valley. A lot of exhibits are brand new or have been updated,” Nasitka said.

“We hope the museum has a big impact as one of the major attractions in the San Fernando Valley. We want to become an integral resource not only for the guests who come through our doors, but for local teachers, schools and the rest of the community.”

Nasitka added that they will be working with the community to organize field trips and educational programs for local schools.

He promised visitors will get an “exciting experience” immediately walking into the museum.

“We promise to offer them different ways they can learn science and have fun along the way,” Nasitka said.

Discovery Cube Los Angeles will be open every day starting Thursday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., except for Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day. Admission this calendar year will be discounted to $10 per person while kids under three are free. For more information, go to discoverycube.org.

San Fernando Valley Museum

Last Saturday, Nov. 8, several members of the Los Angeles City Council representing the Valley, as well as dozens of residents, gathered in Northridge for the opening of the Museum of the San Fernando Valley.

The emphasis of this museum is to exhibit the Valley’s history that is too often overlooked. The museum highlights the contributions from people and artists, and traces the events and footsteps of people who built this region of Los Angeles.

 Nine years in the making, the museum is a dream come true for those who worked hard to open it’s doors. It is housed at 18860 Nordhoff St., in a second-floor space of an office building at the corner of Nordhoff Street and Wilbur Avenue.

Dozens of people waited in line to pass through the small space with eclectic exhibits that included the Valley’s contribution to movie making and the entertainment industry and pilots from the Valley who risked their lives in World War II and the defense industry.

“War was very much a part of the Valley,” said Scott Sterling, president of the museum. “They were building engines in Canoga Park and we were a big target for the enemy.”

Sterling said there are already plenty of ideas for future exhibits, including one that would highlight the movies that were filmed n the San Fernando Valley and feature an interactive map that will include you a snippet of  each film.

The San Fernando Valley’s contributions are vast Sterling points out.

“‘Casablanca’ and ‘The Hunchback of Notre Dame’ are some of the titles filmed in the area,” he said.

There are also plans for an exhibit on the Jackson family, and another that includes the celebrities from the Golden Age of Hollywood who made their homes here.

A nonprofit organization, the Museum of the San Fernando Valley needs funds to bring these exhibits to the people.

“We need donors to help tell the story of the San Fernando Valley,” Sterling noted.

L.A. Councilmember Mitch Englander, who represents Granada Hills, Northridge and Porter Ranch, said the museum is “an opportunity to learn about the history the rich culture of who we are where we come from.”

Fellow L.A. Councilmember Bob Blumenfield added,“We are a huge force to be reckoned with, and we need to celebrate our history. We have people whose stories need to be told and preserved.”

Sterling hopes to be able to open the Museum on Tuesday, Thursdays and Saturdays. For visiting hours, call (818) 347-9665.