MOXI, The Wolf Museum of Exploration + Innovation Set to Open in Santa Barbara

Release Date: February 24,2017

Long-awaited, hands-on museum focused on science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics

A giant guitar helps visitors learn about music and sound at MOXI, The Wolf Museum of Exploration + Innovation, in Santa Barbara.
A giant guitar helps visitors learn about music and sound at MOXI, The Wolf Museum of Exploration + Innovation, in Santa Barbara.  (Brooke Holland / Noozhawk photo)

The countdown has finished — MOXI, The Wolf Museum of Exploration + Innovation is open.

Elected officials, community members, MOXI staff and volunteers were on hand Saturday morning to celebrate the grand opening of the museum in Santa Barbara.

“This is truly going to benefit our community,” said MOXI president and CEO Steve Hinkley. “We will be a place where children are not only prepared to adapt to the future — but they are enabled and empowered to define it.”

Hinkley thanked Mayor Helene Schneider, Santa Barbara City Council members, City Administrator Paul Casey and his staff, and retired Santa Barbara City Administrator Jim Armstrong for their continued hard work.

Schneider said the completion of MOXI is one noteworthy achievement during her term as mayor.

“The beauty of MOXI is that it is open to everyone,” Schneider said. “This is open to every family regardless of their income, regardless of where they are in life — (this is) for every type of child that wants to explore, innovate and explore their imagination.”

Schneider was given an honorary key to MOXI on behalf of the museum board of directors and staff.

Dick Wolf and his wife Noelle Wolf were recognized as significant donors. 

MOXI, The Wolf Museum of Exploration + Innovation, opens Saturday at 125 State St.
MOXI, The Wolf Museum of Exploration + Innovation, opens Saturday at 125 State St. (Brooke Holland / Noozhawk photo)

Speaking during the opening ceremony, Dick Wolf said MOXI is a step forward for future generations.

“This museum is the Santa Barbara future,” Dick Wolf said. “We have a responsibility to the next generations to make sure this museum is on the cutting-edge of thinking. This is going to become a destination for all the kids in Santa Barbara.”

After the grand opening, more than 250 attendees got a first-hand look at the exhibits.

“Usually, museums are boring because you are just looking at frozen pictures,” said Audrey Aurell, a 9-year-old Cold Spring Elementary School student. “But this (MOXI) is fun.”

Aurell’s father works for AB Design Studio, the business that focused on the construction administration phase of MOXI.

The Foley Studios exhibit — a professional-quality sound booth where guests can create sound effects to popular Fox Studio films such as Edward Scissorhands. The first floor is dedicated to sound. The Foley Studios exhibit — a professional-quality sound booth where guests can create sound effects to popular Fox Studio films such as Edward Scissorhands. The first floor is dedicated to sound. (Brooke Holland / Noozhawk photo)
 

“To see the drawings and the ideas that were on sketches come to life  is  amazing,” said Audrey’s mother Karmen Aurell.

At the edge of Santa Barbara's Funk Zone, a giant guitar has taken up residence at 125 State St. — a 24-foot-long, 8-foot-tall guitar to be exact.

The display is a hands-on approach to the science behind musical instruments, and part of more than 70 exhibits at MOXI, The Wolf Museum of Exploration + Innovation.

The indoor and outdoor discovery area allows children and adults to have fun and explore while they learn about science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics.

Those interested in experiencing interactive science and technology activities will be delighted to hear the museum in Santa Barbara opened at 1 p.m. on Saturday. 

MOXI’s Innovation Workshop on the first floor features multiple high-tech 3-D printers. MOXI’s Innovation Workshop on the first floor features multiple high-tech 3-D printers. (Brooke Holland / Noozhawk photo)

The large Color and Light Mixing Machine at the museum’s main entrance window is designed to draw visitors to the building.

But it’s the professional-quality sound booths, 3-D printers, air rockets, giant LED-covered globe, Vex Robots, customized design race track and wind-, sun- and human-powered displays that will keep guests busy.

“We want people to learn and have fun at the same time,” said Sam McIlraith, MOXI's director of development and communications. “People could spend an entire day at MOXI or a just few hours — either way, you’re going to have a great experience.”

The museum is opening its doors after a $25 million capital campaign for the design and construction of the building and exhibits, and following 25 years of work by the museum’s board, staff and community volunteers.

The 17,000-square-foot space has engaging exhibits highlighting sound, new technology, speed, light and interactive media arts.

“We want people to engage and interact,” McIlraith said. “The experience at MOXI is different each time. The exhibit may not be rotating, but the way people interpret is (changing with every visit).”

The exhibits are organized around seven themed areas called “Tracks.”

The sound and technology displays are the first stop. 

The lower level of the museum offers the Foley Studios, which feature three sound booths where people can create different effects for popular Fox Studios film clips.

The first floor also offers an outside area spotlighting gravity and magnetism, and people can launch a scarf through a wind tunnel and see how the object moves through the air at different speeds.

Back inside, the Innovation Workshop has a handful of miniature robots, 3-D printers and a laser cutter.

With help from museum staff, this area will allow guests to create objects using a variety of technologies and tools.

“We have had different age groups visit, and almost unanimously it has been a positive experience,” said Mack Fixler, a MOXI exhibit innovator. “Every day of the week, we will have a different activity (inside the Innovation Workshop).”

Light, speed and interactive media exhibits are on the second floor.

Here guests discover how movement works by building and modifying a race car and then sending it down a test track. 

The Interactive Media track showcases the first installation created by UC Santa Barbara’s AlloSphere Research Group, a program of the university’s Media Arts Technology department.

On the third floor, the Towbes Family Lookout Tower features five different observation scopes — a periscope, a thermal imaging lens, a telescope, a kaleidoscope and a LIDAR scope, which is a speed- and distance-detecting device.

A key attraction on the rooftop — besides the sweeping mountain and ocean views— is an interactive water feature where people can manipulate and observe water in action. 

Museum staff expect to welcome more than 100,000 visitors annually and approximately 15,000 school children.

The building sits between the train tracks and the beach on the edge of the Funk Zone. 

MOXI is the county’s first LEED-certified museum, and the building is designed around the concept of reducing, recycling and reusing. 

Thirty-percent of the materials are composed of recycled content, including carpet tiles made of fish nets.

The building was designed by the late Santa Barbara icon and award-winning architect Barry Berkus and AB Design Studio.

Gyroscope, Inc., an award-winning museum planning firm, designed the exhibits.

MOXI began in 1990, when the Children’s Museum of Santa Barbara incorporated as a nonprofit organization.

A groundbreaking ceremony was celebrated in 2014.

The property is signed under a 50-year lease agreement with the city of Santa Barbara for $1 a year.

The museum is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., with early entry at 8:30 a.m. on Tuesdays and Sundays for members.

To control guest flow throughout the day, people can purchase a timed-entry ticket in advance online, or at MOXI's front desk (subject to availability). 

There is no limit to how long guests can stay in the building — staff is asking guests to arrive in 30-minute windows, said MOXI’s Marketing and Communications Manager Martha Swanson.

General admission is $14 (ages 13 and older), $10 for children (3-12 years old), and free for children under 2. 

MOXI offers a variety of membership options starting at $90 for individuals and $130 for a family (two adults + named children).

Members will receive a year of free general admission, weekly members-only hours and discounts.  

When it’s open, the museum will host school groups, camps, special event and also available for private rentals.

Noozhawk staff writer Brooke Holland can be reached at bholland@noozhawk.com. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

Subscribe to our Newsletter

Membership Login