The World of Wonders Science Museum’s board of directors unveiled plans for its expansion project during a community meeting on Tuesday at Wine & Roses.

WOW president Sally Snyde led a video presentation that featured the projected architectural plan for WOW Plaza, which would replace seven buildings on the 100 block of North Sacramento Street in Downtown Lodi.

“We are currently in escrow on five of the buildings, and working with property owners on the remaining buildings,” Snyde said.

Plans call for the buildings to be completely demolished and reconstructed.

“We recognize the historical significance of these buildings, but it’s not possible to use the existing layout of these older buildings to capture what we want to do with the plaza,” she said.

The WOW Plaza would occupy most of the entire block, with the exception of the Joe Hassan building, built in 1888 and located on the northwest corner of Sacramento Street.

Plans call for the street to be closed off and turned into walking space for the science plaza.

The plaza would include a courtyard featuring a planetarium and an outdoor teaching amphitheater with a 60-foot media dome that will display movies, 3D videos and more, along with an amphitheater for live events, music and outdoor movie screenings.

Across from the amphitheater would be a custom-built carousel with hand-carved and painted animals native to the Central Valley.

“The carousel will have a grizzly bear, a California quail, and a hummingbird, which are being crafted in Mansfield, Ohio,” Snyde said.

The plaza would also include a full-service dining facility and an expanded WOW store.

“Our current store is close to 800 square feet, but once we expand it will be about 3,000 square feet,” Snyde said.

The WOW Museum’s board of directors has actively sought meetings with investors to generate donations to fund the projected $24 million project.

The expansion would include 30,000 square feet for hands-on exhibit spaces in addition to four new classrooms.

“The extra classrooms are essential. We are constantly having to turn away school trips because we don’t have the space to facilitate multiple class trips, but this would help us reach those schools,” Snyde said.

In the past year, WOW has hosted 80,000 people through programs like WOW on Wheels. The program was designed to bring students in rural counties such as Merced to Lodi, giving them a chance to visit the museum and experience the railway system.

The planned classrooms would also serve as event spaces for birthday parties and wedding anniversaries, Snyde said.

“We have hosted 50th and 40th birthdays. This is not just a place for kids, it’s about everyone in the community,” she said. “We have had Lucas Winery approach us with a WOW wine.”

To see the video presentation, visit www.wowsciencemuseum.org/wow-science-plaza.

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