Photos by Karen O’Hara
A recent addition to Santa Barbara’s Funk Zone is designed to spur young minds into innovation, invention and discovery — and it already has drawn some 90,000 since opening in February.
Moxi, the Wolf Museum of Exploration & Innovation, sits on an odd-shaped piece of land squeezed between Hotel Indigo, State Street and the railroad tracks. TV producer Dick Wolf and his wife, Noelle, were the chief investors in the project.
The Wolfs and many other donors put up a total of $27 million, which includes an endowment to keep the 17,000-square-foot Moxi running through the years. It has a 50-year lease on the land owned by the city, which charges Moxi $1 a year.
Already on week days and weekends droves of youngsters and their parents from across the country and around the world line up in front of the unique front entrance of Moxi to go inside to three levels of hands-on exhibits, which include a work area to create Pinewood Derby-type cars and race them on a hilly track.
Boys and girls wade through light projections that form various images on the floor and walls. Others shoot balls up a wall and watch as they descend in what resembles a huge pinball machine.
The rooftop Sky Garden is an attraction that anyone can enjoy on a sunny summer day. It has one of best panoramic views in town.
Although originally thought to be a children’s museum, what became known as Moxi, which is an acronym for Museum of Exploration and Innovation, incorporated in 1990. Local architect Barry Berkus designed the building, but died before it was completed. South Coast architects from AB Design finished the work.
Moxi is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day except Thanksgiving and Christmas. Admission is $14 for everyone older than 13 years and $10 for children from 12 to 3 years of age. Children less than 3 years are free. Annual memberships are available. For more information, see moxi.org