MOXI – The Childrens’ Museum Back Story – Sheila Cushman

In 805conversations by Mark Sylvester

Igniting learning through interactive experiences in science and creativity

Fate steps in, in wonderful ways.Sheila Cushman

Sheila Cushman is the Executive Director Emeritus at MOXI, The Wolf Museum of Exploration and Innovation. She talked with Mark and Patrick about the 27-year journey it took to build the museum.

In this conversation with broad background on the story behind the founding of the Museum, Sheila covers;

• How land use politics affects even the most beloved of projects
• Starting in 1990 with a group of committed citizens to build a Children’s Museum
• Paul Selwyn, president of the Board of Directors, with experience with the Children’s Museum of Los Angeles, and Eli Luria, with generous support from The Orfalea Foundation, led the project’s early development.
• How the original design was a 3,000 square foot facility on the grounds of the Natural History Museum
• In 2006, Shelia became the Executive Director of the Museum
• How in 2007, the City of Santa Barbara gave them the land (in prime real estate) for $1 a year for 50 years, with the help of local creative public affairs guru, John Davies.
• Who’s the dragon in this story: Gov of California Jerry Brown’s cutting of redevelopment funding in the state.
• Spending years developing the concepts that turned into the incredible exhibits
• How they found the best designer to translate their vision into reality
• The difference between STEM and STEAM (The A adds the Arts)
• Her biggest surprise? “I had no idea I had the skills and tenacity to do this.”
• Now what? She’s working with Dr. JoAnn Kuchera-Morin to take the experience of UCSB’s AlloSphere out to the community and beyond.

We know that whatever Sheila puts her mind to, she’s going to make it better, and our City better as a result.

If you’d like to chat with Sheila about how she can help you with your next project, you can reach her here.