The Cedar Rapids Science Center is on the move again – a common occurrence since the Flood of 2008, but not quite the last time.
“It’s not our choice, but it does add some efficiency into what we do,” said Norah Hammond, executive director, as she loaded up a moving cart Monday morning.
Exhibits in the center’s activity gallery on the main level at Lindale Mall are being moved to the lower level education center at the request of the mall.
The Science Center, then known as the Science Station, had opened Oct. 1, 2008, in the lower level of the mall after flood waters destroyed its downtown location that included the city’s old fire station and an IMAX theater. The main level gallery opened in April of 2009.
“It’s been good,” Hammond said about the higher visibility of being near a mall entrance across from Holley’s Shop for Men. “But it’s been somewhat confusing to have two locations in Lindale.”
The move means the loss of about 2,700 square feet of space, consolidating the exhibits into the 5,700 square feet of classrooms, storage and office space on the lower level, Hammond said. As a result, classes will be held at Trinity Lutheran Schools, 1361 Seventh Ave. SW, for the time being. But, this also provides additional impetus to find a permanent location.
“We hope 2013 is when we announce our new site and begin a fund raising campaign,” Hammond said.
Center officials have held focus groups, conducted surveys and talked to a lot of people about its future, she said.
“We have looked downtown and at New Bo,” she added. “That’s not to say that’s the only place we’ve looked. We have visions to be about the same size we were before the flood.”
The Science Center began as a project of the Junior League of Cedar Rapids more than 25 years ago. Located in the city’s former central fire station and adjacent building, it grew to more than 15,000 square feet and gained statewide exposure in 2001 when it added and opened a 175-seat domed IMAX theater. Its future was temporarily in doubt when floodwaters from the adjacent Cedar River filled the first level in June, 2008.
“This is just a sliver of what we had,” said Leroy Willey, longtime volunteer at the center who helped rebuild many of the exhibits after the flood and pitched in to help with Monday’s preparation for the move.
“Some of it is in storage,” he added. “A lot of it went to the junk yard.”
This move will be a challenge, added Steve DeForest, facilities manager, who compared relocating the exhibits to the lower level as “putting 10 pounds in a five-pound bag.”
But, as he wedged himself into the scale model ramp used to race Lego built cars to take it apart for the move, he smiled.
“You get the tough stuff first,” DeForest said. “The easy stuff later, when you’re tired.”
The Science Center at Lindale Mall is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday. Admission is $3.