Muzeiko opens in Sofia!

The America for Bulgaria Science Center is the first children’s museum in Southeastern Europe.

On September 30th, the America for Bulgaria Foundation inaugurated Muzeiko – the biggest children’s museum in Southeastern Europe in the presence of the Mayor of Sofia, Mrs Yordanka Fandakova, US Deputy Chief of Mission, Mrs Martina Strong, The America for Bulgaria Foundation’s Board of Directors, foreign ambassadors, partners and guests. Mr Boyko Borissov, Bulgaria’s Prime Minister, visited the new center earlier that day and took a tour around the interactive exhibitions.

“Dear children, congratulations on our newest gain! Since October the children of Sofia and Bulgaria will have their new interesting home. Muzeiko is not only a museum for children, but also an inspirational place for the new generation. Today, when we are in search for new, innovative methods for teaching our children, this is the place where it is made possible. I hope the teachers will take advantage of this amazing new opportunity”, said Mrs Fandakova at the opening ceremony.

Children’s museums are a quintessentially American creation. The first children’s museum was open in Brooklyn in 1899 followed by many others. These innovative institutions were based on the principle that children need spaces that are specially created to inspire them and help them learn while playing. The concept that took Brooklyn by storm at the end of the 19th century now makes it arrival to Bulgaria.

“Muzeiko is our gift to the children of Bulgaria”, says Dr.Lynn Daft, Chairman of the America for Bulgaria Foundation. “We at the Foundation hope Muzeiko will inspire generations of Bulgarians to pursue a lifelong love of learning thereby enriching their country as well as their own lives”.

Muzeiko’s impressive building was created by Lee H. Skolnick Architecture + Design Partnership. The New York City-based firm has designed scores of children’s museums, libraries and schools world-wide. Its specialty is transforming cultural and educational ideas into immersive, engaging experiences.

Muzeiko is housed in a former university building in the Studentski grad neighborhood of Sofia. Skolnick’s stunning re-design of the facility takes inspiration from Mount Vitosha and other local mountain ranges. Three colorful domes seem to emerge from a shimmering rectangular glass box, echoing Sofia’s surrounding landscape. These “little mountains” are “dressed” in traditional Bulgarian attire: wood, textiles, and ceramics.
“As you move through the building, you are moving through time and through the world, or space,” says Skolnick. “It’s about bringing together different subjects and content, yes, but we are weaving them together as part of a unified story about how the world works. And it’s done in a way that all children from all cultures and countries can appreciate and understand.”

Muzeiko’s 3,500 square meters are home to more than 130 interactive exhibits specially created for children and eager-to-learn adults. Unlike the contents of traditional museums, which typically are housed in glass cases behind signs that say “Don’t Touch,” Muzeiko’s contents are hands-on. They are designed to inspire children and their adult friends to discover and explore the sciences.

The center of Muzeiko is a gigantic tree that unites the facility’s three floors. Each floor represents a different time period: Past, Present, and Future. Each era features the essence of its respective sciences – archeology, geology, and anthropology in the past; nature, architecture, and urban design in the present; and space technologies, energy, and communications in the future.

Muzeiko offers other special features: a roof terrace with small botanical garden, a climbing wall, and an amphitheater, a play area for toddlers, and an elaborate external playground. An adjacent building houses classrooms and study labs.

Even before its doors were opened, Muzeiko provided nearly 300 jobs to Bulgarian companies, entrepreneurs, scientists and educators who worked on the planning and implementation of the new museum. In addition, the museum is leading the revitalization of the Studentski grad neighborhood in Sofia as an example of a successful public-private partnership with the municipal government.

A central focus of the America for Bulgaria Foundation is its support of Bulgaria’s economic development and private sector. The Foundation anticipates that Muzeiko will become an engine of economic growth for Sofia and a popular tourist destination for children of all ages.

For more information on Muzeiko CLICK HERE.

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