Alabama's Cook Natural Science Museum moving to new US$17m home
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Alabama's Cook Natural Science Museum moving to new US$17m home

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The Cook Natural Science Museum in Decatur, Alabama, has unveiled plans for a brand new US$17m (€15.6m, £11m) facility, which will see the museum move from what was once a by-appointment warehouse tour into a fully-fledged educational facility.

Increasing in size from 5,000sq ft (464sq m) to 57,000sq ft (5,295sq m), the interactive museum, designed by Huntsville-based Fuqua & Partners Architects, will move from its current home to a new location in downtown Decatur.

New live exhibits will include a saltwater aquarium, jellyfish tanks and animal terrariums. Plans also feature a cave with the museum’s rock and mineral collection, a wetlands exhibit, two classrooms, a multi-purpose room, 5,000sq ft (5,295sq m) of temporary exhibition space and resources for school outreach programmes. A café is also included in the plans, as well as a 140-seat theatre. Finally, a planned second phase of development will introduce a butterfly house outside of the museum.

In a statement, Brian Cook, president of the museum’s board of directors, said he hoped the project would break ground in late June, with an opening scheduled for Q1 2017.

The museum has already secured US$7m (€6.4m, £4.6m) in funding from the Cook family and is looking for a further US$10m (€9.1m, £6.5m) to realise the project. Market research conducted by Britt Beemer and America’s Research Group estimates annual visitor numbers of 214,000 visitors.

When it first opened in 1960, the museum was used primarily an education tool for employees of Cook’s Pest Control, but gradually grew from a small insect collection to include mounted wildlife, rocks and minerals as a travelling exhibit in the 1970s. In the 1980s the museum opened in its current format and has since welcomed more than 750,000 visitors.

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The Cook Natural Science Museum in Decatur, Alabama, has unveiled plans for a brand new US$17m (€15.6m, £11m) facility, which will see the museum move from what was once a by-appointment warehouse tour into a fully-fledged educational facility.
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