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Group Pushing for Brooklyn's First Science-Art Museum

By Meredith Hoffman | October 3, 2012 8:26am | Updated on October 3, 2012 10:28am

GREENPOINT — When Susan Anderson reflects on the multitude of artists and intellectuals in North Brooklyn, it drives her crazy — where is the museum to display their talents?

"Our neighborhood is crying out for this," the Greenpoint resident said of the science-art museum her local non-profit Town Square hopes to help create. "The museum will appeal to people of all ages, in the same way the Natural History Museum does."

Town Square — a 7-year-old grassroots group with a 1,500-reader email list and with connections to local schools — is mobilizing on Anderson's idea, she said, and rallying the community to fuse the disciplines in an interactive learning center.

"The approach is for people to learn more about science with the application of art and to learn more about art through the application of science," she said of the concept, in its primary stages of development.

"We already had more than 60 people sign up interested in learning more and helping, and it ranged from educators, to artists to fundraisers," she noted of her first day campaigning last weekend for the cause at Town Square's Schoolfest event at P.S. 84. "I think it will be a 3-to-5-year process to find and move into a physical permanent space...but in the meantime we can make a pop-up museum in North Brooklyn."

Anderson, chair of Town Square's Board and the head of research for a Manhattan investment firm, said the next steps in the project include posting information at this weekend's Pumpkin Fest in McCarren Park and then holding an open meeting.

Town Square's current vision for the museum includes a "Great Hall of Discovery" with a constant flow of new art, science and technology creations from the local and global community.

"Imagine a technology exhibit showcasing the latest advances in robotics surrounded by the playful and colorful robotic themed artwork of Brooklyn local R.Nicholas Kuszyk," Town Square's current proposal depicts the room. "Or a discovery wall covered in magnetic Geemos (a building toy created by a Brooklyn-based toy maker) side by side with an exhibit showing how magnets are used to create super conductors."

Other rooms Town Square envisions are a computer and robotics lab, a "green room" featuring alternative energy projects, a culinary arts teaching kitchen, and an "energy playground" with exercise machines that use human energy to power other parts of the museum.

The group also hopes to include a "Small Wonders" play and learning space for young children, an Imax auditorium, a performance space seating 1,000 people, and several other smaller performance arenas.

"The Brooklyn Science and Arts Museum's educational philosophy is based around the progressive education movement, Reggio Emilo and Montessori approaches to education," the mission statement explains, "which all share the common belief that human’s learn best through self-guided, hands-on discovery with respect for community, the individual, and the natural world."

Anderson noted that she still had no idea where the museum would be housed (other than in the North Brooklyn area), and that she was eager to hear ideas on fundraising and organizing the space.

"The city is so rich in the arts and sciences, but not in North Brooklyn," she said.

A spokeswoman for the city's Department of Cultural Affairs noted that local organizations — including Town Square — could apply to receive funding for museums and other projects. She said that the city already funded a number of cultural organizations in the area.