ScienceWorks looks forward to expanded future

Traveling exhibits from places such as OMSI and the San Francisco Exploratorium could make their way to Ashland's ScienceWorks Hands-on Museum, thanks to ongoing fundraising.

The museum has nearly met its goal of $1.5 million during its first capital campaign in 11 years of business, said Chip Lindsey, ScienceWorks' executive director.

Only $70,000 remains in the campaign, which has allowed ScienceWorks to purchase its own building outright from the Washington-based Kirlin Foundation, which has rented to ScienceWorks since its opening in 2001.

"The whole Rogue Valley has really stepped up," said Lindsey. "We've had big gifts and small gifts, but they're all important."

About $1.2 million was raised earlier this year through gifts from major donors, including the Meyer Memorial Trust and the Ford Family Foundation, and a public campaign to raise the remaining $300,000 kicked off in September.

Lindsey said he was pleased by the generosity of locals, receiving plenty of "sweaty dollar bills from children" and even having one 9-year-old museum patron hold a yard sale to benefit ScienceWorks.

"As one of our staff members said, the community has really come together to buy this building for the community," Lindsey said.

The building is being purchased for $850,000 from the Kirlin Foundation, which approached ScienceWorks about wanting to sell it earlier this year.

The purchase is allowing ScienceWorks to spread out into the entire location. Previously, large warehouse-like sections of the space were rented out separately.

"We haven't occupied our whole facility until this year," Lindsey said.

The land the building sits on is leased from Southern Oregon University for an almost nonexistent cost of about "$1 per decade," Lindsey said.

The rest of the money raised will be used for 20 years of deferred maintenance on the building, including replacing the roof, and to remodel and expand the inside space to make room for new exhibits.

Lindsey said that because of the campaign's success, ScienceWorks will now be able to house traveling exhibits and is in the process of seeking some out.

A traveling exhibit on human physiology called "grossology" and an exhibit with robotic dinosaurs are both on Lindsey's radar.

"Traveling shows are now within our grasp," he said.

The money will allow the museum to renovate its learning lab and staff has started a prototype for a tinkering studio called DaVinci's Garage.

Lindsey said a "really fantastic" upcoming exhibit will help ScienceWorks round out its financial campaign, though he declined to reveal what the new exhibit might be.

The Murdock Charitable Trust has agreed to give ScienceWorks an additional $250,000 when the rest of the fundraising is completed.

Teresa Ristow is a freelance writer living in Ashland. Reach her at

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