Stem Through Time
The America for Bulgaria Foundation financed one of the first children’s museums in Eastern Europe, opening in the Bulgarian capital on its scheduled date in 2015. The main feature of the 35,000-square foot museum is the glass centerpiece tree that rises through all three levels of the building’s interior. The lowest level of the building houses the tree’s roots, where the focus is exploring “the past” with exhibitions in archaeology, geology and paleontology. Children are able to put on a safety helmet and dig out samples of rocks and minerals like stalactites and stalagmites that they can then analyze in a lab with experts. On the ground floor visitors find “the present,” represented by displays about the natural environment, architecture and cities. The top floor is dedicated to “the future” with interactive exhibitions about space travel and cutting-edge technologies. Each of the three floors center around the iconic tree, standing three stories tall, spanning 30 feet in diameter, and visible from every level in the museum. Created from wood, metal, and sculptural assembled pieces, the tree itself is an interactive exhibit where visitors walk through the roots or turn a crank to start a lighting effect.
Building From the Roots Up
As this was a first-time museum project for the America for Bulgaria Foundation, kubik maltbie’s extensive experience was of crucial value throughout the project, providing oversight and ensuring a steady process from design to fabrication. The entire project took over 18 months to complete. Due to its immense size and the fact that the museum building was already constructed, the tree had to be brought over in smaller sizes and assembled on site and alone took six months to build and two months to install. 40% of the project was completed at kubik maltbie’s shop in New Jersey, then shipped overseas. The remaining 60% was completed on-site using local companies under kubik maltbie supervision. Partnering with Lee H. Skolnick Architecture + Design, and working closely with local suppliers, the project was completed on time and on budget. The scope of work on this project was extensive and included: pre-construction services, detailing, exhibitry fabrication, audiovisual, media, interactive displays, casework, project coordination, an extensive graphics package, lighting, shipping, and on-site installation. In 2015, less than a year after it’s opening, the museum won the Build of the Year award and continues to be featured in media and press.
“Making this partnership was one of the most important decisions we made, and we think it was the right one. They did an excellent job managing the whole process through weekly Skype calls and regular visits.”Bistra Kirova