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New exhibit, Stair Trek: Core to Cosmos set to open February 1, 2017

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Media Alert
Media Contact: Jonathan Zarov, Director of Marketing
608.354.0149, 608.335.2783

Note to media: In addition to the public events listed in this release, there will be a small Gallery Talk at 6 p.m. about the exhibit, geared for adults, at the VIP reception in the Celebrations room on the second floor. You are welcome to attend. Please contact Jonathan Zarov to RSVP.

Madison Children’s Museum transforms an ordinary fire stairwell into an interactive journey from the Earth’s core up into space

Madison, Wis. (January 30, 2017) — Stair Trek: Core to Cosmos opens Wednesday, February 1, 5 to 8 p.m. The opening takes place on a Free Family Night, when admission is free for the evening.

Core to Cosmos takes visitors on an interactive journey through the universe, from the depths of the Earth’s core, through caves, forests, tree canopies, sky, and to the remote reaches of outer space. The exhibit features the voices of children from the Madison community, who describe the sounds, smells, textures, and feelings of each environment in poetic, playful, unexpected, and profound ways. Core to Cosmos includes hundreds of drawings collected from children over the past year.

The experience is a choreographed concert of image, sound, and light, which is different on every adventure through the space. MCM engaged celebrated local digital media artist Jojin Van Winkle on the conceptual development, project design and implementation of the sights and sounds of the stairwell. Van Winkle has worked on numerous video and film projects, including serving as associate producer on the award-winning documentary The Land Beneath Our Feet.

The voice recordings — of kids talking about what it might be like at the Earth’s core, out in space, and everything in between — are amplified through a number of speakers. As visitors travel up or down the stairs, they’ll hear different stories as they move. Similarly, light projections speckle the walls. Some are triggered by a visitor’s movement, so, for instance, a cave-dwelling creature might scurry to the next level as it’s approached, encouraging a trip further up the stairwell.

It’s all part of a broad project called Design to Move that aims to use good design to encourage movement and healthy behavior. Stair Trek is an ambitious series of stairwells in the museum and, in the coming months, out in the community. Stair Trek is “taking stairs to a new level.” Core to Cosmos, started life as Stairwell 3, a lowly fire stairwell. Though fire stairwells can be life saving, they generally lack appeal. They are often passed over for the elevator, or perhaps an open, central staircase.

The museum has five floors – from the ground level, where the exhibits and facility teams work, up to the rooftop – and the open, central staircase only goes from the first to second floor. The elevator at the museum gets quite a workout, a workout that might be better enjoyed by children and families visiting the museum. So the exhibits staff took on the challenge of making that fire stairwell into a playful, inviting space. There are many ways to make a stairwell more attractive; the real challenge comes from the fact that Core to Cosmos must still meet all the building code requirements of a fire stairwell. That’s why the Madison Fire Department was a key collaborator on the project.

The public is invited to enjoy this, perhaps the most entertaining fire stairwell in Dane County, at the February 1 opening, starting at 5 p.m. Here’s what’s planned for the evening:

5 p.m. Museum opens for Free Family Night (museum is open regular hours during the day)
5:15 p.m. Ribbon cutting ceremony and official exhibit opening
5:30 – 8 p.m.
  • Snack on trail mix to fortify for the long journey up the stairs
  • Take part in hands-on activities at the entrance to each level: underground, forest, sky, and outer space
  • Get your passport stamped as you visit each level and get a free water bottle when you complete the trip from Core to Cosmos
  • Enjoy all the other exhibits at the museum

The museum and its Design to Move partners are changing public health through creative design, and hope to change the behaviors of children and families in Madison by turning healthy choices into exciting and playful experiences.

Design to Move: Stair Trek is supported by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the Richard B. Anderson Family Foundation, Diane Ballweg, the Pyle Foundation, Endres Mfg. Company Foundation, Jim Berbee & Karen Walsh, Dane Arts with support from the Evjue Foundation, and Madison Arts Commission with support from the Wisconsin Arts Board. Madison Children’s Museum has received additional contributions from the Play Everywhere Challenge, a collaborative grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, KaBOOM!, Target, Playworld, the U.S. Department for Housing & Urban Development, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Partners collaborating with Madison Children’s Museum on Design to Move include American Family Children’s Hospital, Bayview Foundation, Urban Land Interests, Dane Arts, Healthy Kids Collaborative, Madison Arts Commission, Madison Fire Department, One City Early Learning Center, University of Wisconsin Department of Art, UW Health, and The YWCA Madison. Many other departments within the City of Madison and Dane County collaborated on this project as well.

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